IG4D, IPv6 Forum Harps On Net Neutrality In Nigeria | Independent Newspapers Limited
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IG4D, IPv6 Forum Harps On Net Neutrality In Nigeria

Posted: Jun 9, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Emmanuel Okwuke –  Lagos


The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Hon. Dr. Ibrahim Shehu Gusau, has called for an industry-based study on Net Neutrality in Nigeria.

Gusau who led other delegates to declare the two-day annual Nigeria DigitalSENSE Forum on Internet Governance for Development (IG4D) and IPv6 Roundtable, which held in Lagos at the weekend, beckoned on industry regulators within the ICT sector like the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), to initiate policy study on net neutrality with the aim of determining how it affects the Nigerian Internet community.

According to him, this will help define reasonable traffic management policy as it relates to net neutrality. He noted that the National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives was ready to pass laws that will help achieve this purpose.

Gusau, who also presided over the forum opening session, noted that the signing of the Cyber Security Bill into Law by the former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on May 15, 2015, was a plus for the National Assembly.

He said that the theme: ‘Net Neutrality and Nigerian Internet Users’ passes for the network neutrality, Internet neutrality, or net equality principle that Internet service providers or government should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites.


Leveraging IPV6 For Broadband Penetration

In his Key note address, the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Eugene Juwah, said he was glad that the forum was X-raying one of the solutions which have evolved out of many efforts to propagate Internet penetration and adoption.

IPv4 Vs IPv6

According to him, IPv6 evolved from the base of IPv4. “Telephone lines across the world have been designed in such a way that when you make a call, it is received by another phone line. In same way, Internet connectivity is achieved through Internet Protocol (IP) address system, which ensures that one computer connected to the Internet sees others.

“At the early development of the Internet, IPv4 Internet Protocol address space was developed with the capacity to accommodate 4.3 Billion addresses. At that period, this saw a very huge capacity that was probably not envisaged to be exhausted in several years. The phenomenal growth of Internet is already seeing off IPv4. It is now known that sooner or later, there will be no IP address left on the IPv4 space”.

This is why the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), whose mission is to make the Internet work better, came up with a more efficient IPv6 address. IPv6 space is developed to accommodate 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000. The idea behind this huge capacity is to ensure that even if the demand for IP addresses doubled every year, IPv6 will not be exhausted in 96 years. The good news is that the addresses already contained in the IPv4, would be able to shake hands with those of IPv6”.


Broadband Internet

Juwah who described broadband within the context of Internet as simultaneous transportation of multiple signals and traffic types through wired or wireless transmission medium noted that the speed at which transmissions on the Internet upload and downloads gives rise to high speed Internet.

High speed Internet or broadband became the buzzword as early as when 56 Kilobytes per second download, was achieved. In the 90s, the Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL), achieved up to 1.54 Mbps, which became celebrated.

“Early 2015, there was a report that the Federal Communications Commission, the telecom regulator in the USA, has changed the 2010 benchmark of 4 Mbps downloads and 1mbps for uploads, for a new “broadband benchmark speeds” of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads,” he said.


Leveraging IPv6 For Broadband

On Internet penetration, Juwah noted that more than 83 Million Nigerian subscribers have access to the Internet. “So, the nation is as connected to the Internet as most other parts of the world. The drawback is that we do not have the type of broadband connection to the Internet as have been described above.  ‘Currently, we have about 10 per cent broadband penetration and the target is to achieve about 30 per cent penetration in 2018.

“It is very easy to decipher that Nigeria has great prospects and potentials for broadband. The availability of a new Internet addressing system in IPv6, means that these potentials can be harnessed as the nation continues to grow its broadband penetration”.


Internet Of Things

There may be no better way to bring this home than to conclude it with one of the most attractive buzz words about the potentials of the Internet which will be made possible with the expanded Internet Protocol addressing platform that is not exhaustive, at least for a very long time to come.

Juwah noted that experts have predicted that by 2020, more than 50 billion things would be connected to the Internet. These include: wearable devices such as your shoes, watches, belts, headbands, key holders and others.  “In the era of Internet of things, your appliances at homes such as refrigerators, air conditioners, television and video sets, microwave and security devices may be as connected to the Internet the same way that people are connected,”.

“With IPv6 enabling the provision of addresses for all of these activities and with a broadband penetration that ensures pervasive availability, it is imagined that limitless opportunities would be provided for the average user in Nigeria and elsewhere,” he stressed.