Interview

“Technology will improve… in next 10 years, there will be 7G” -MD/CEO, Bitflux

MD/CEO, Bitflux Communications , Pastor Lekan Balogun spoke about the future of technology advancements and the role his company would play. Except

What you do is not known to the public. Give background information?

We are licensed by the Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC] to provide wholesale Internet access to many operators such as ISPs, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other aggregators. We are into what we referred to as wireless last mile access, whereby we collaborate with some operators to help them provide the last mile access but this time on the wireless model. This model is a very, very good model. The importance of this model is that it helps the operators to reduce their CAPEX and OPEX.

We have collaborated with the operators and they don’t have to own the entire infrastructure. We can work with an operator on the lease-arrangement basis, depending on how you want it. That way the operator can get to the market faster because one of the problems in Nigeria is carrying huge CAPEX during rollout and a large organisation like ours can work with the ISPs and join forces so that their rollout can be faster. Then, they can focus on their core business. The percentage of internet penetration that we dream about as an industry can be fulfilled in Nigeria.

Bitflux deploys fibre optic cable and wireline? Are they not competing for technologies?  

No. They are not competing for technologies. A fibre optic can carry the massive volume of data and can do that in long distance, you know. Of course, you can use your wireless, and microwave for that but then you would incur more cost because the design of those technologies is not for long distance. But your fibre can carry those data.

In that case, you would be thinking about interstates, i.e. moving from one region to another, from one country to another and across the international waters.  So, you carry that distance with your fibre or you will use your satellites, which of course, you know is very expensive. But then when you come to be intra-state, from one local government to another; from one house to another, at that point, the deployment of fibre will be very expensive. That’s where your wireless access comes in. The wireless asset and fibre complement each other.

The industry started with 2G and 3G. But now everybody is deploying 4G and 5G is around the corner. What is the advantage to the consumers?

Everybody’s familiar with 3G technology because that’s what the mobile operators use. And then, of course, 4G technology has come up and they have what is called the 4G LTE, which is the Long Term Evolution. There is the 4G LTE Advanced, which is the faster version of the 4G LTE. The difference is the speed.

It can do more. It is the demand for data use that is actually driving this technology. You know, before you couldn’t have your email on your phone. Today, it looks strange to see anyone who doesn’t have an email platform on his phone. I mean, if you bring out your phone and you can’t read your mail everybody will look at you funny.

But back then, it was a luxury. Now, beyond the email, our life is actually almost guided and controlled by these applications. So, things that you would leave your house to look for in the market, things that you would go out to connect with, now you can actually sit in the comfort of your home, with your phone do these things. So, with the demands or volume of data passing through your phones, the technology behind that connectivity must also change and that’s where you find all the evolution of the technology advancements of the telecom world where you have 3G or 4G and of course, 5G. 

5G will enable things like smart video conferencing. I can be here and be talking to my friend in London via technology. It will not break one microsecond and the picture will be crystal clear. Now, some of the things we have at the moment cannot do that but then you have the evolution into 5G technology that can do that. But, of course, we’re able to do video conferencing today. This can do video conference but the quality might be different.

So, in terms of whether these things are going to be a reality, they are absolutely going to be a reality. But then, in every economics, you measure the demand versus supply and also the cost of the technology and the purchasing power because if you deploy technology that people are not willing and ready to purchase, you might not find the adoption rates very high as you want. Technology will continue to improve. You know, I can tell you, in the next 10 years, there will be 7G.

Will the new technology improve the quality of service?

Well, it depends on which service you’re talking about. And that’s why organizations like ours are coming up stronger than ever. We have been able to retain a lot of our subscribers. We know because we work with them to ensure operational excellence and that is very important to us. Now, without a doubt, we are in an environment where power has become a challenge.

So, what we have been able to do is to look at the different levels of reliability, at the different levels of power provision and different moves to ensure that we have what is called backup of backups. That is very interesting because, in Nigeria, you have such things. So, you have a backup and there is another backup so that in case this backup goes down, the third level of backup takes over.

That way, we’ve been able to maintain what we call the availability of the natural and by so doing, we‘re able to increase customer satisfaction. By increasing customer satisfaction, we have loyal customers and that’s why it’s important that people understand that as the years roll by, we are going to have customers who are demanding more and more satisfaction from their providers. So, my advice to users is that if your operator is not providing the service with the way you like, try another network and Bitflux is the partner to talk to.

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