Galaxy Backbone: Expanding Nigeria’s Broadband Services to Add Value, by Fom Gyem

Dr Isa Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy

“The Nigerian government believes that the rapid deployment of broadband services will help address various socio-economic challenges facing the country, including the need to grow its economy, create jobs, rapidly expand the tax base and improve digital literacy and education standards”,
– Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim

Broadband is a high-speed Internet connection. The technology gets its name from a wide range of frequencies available for data transmission. Information can be multiplexed and transferred over many channels, allowing more data to be transmitted at the same time. With broadband, users can access the Internet and connected services at higher speeds than those offered by dial-up Internet access services. Depending on the type and quality of services provided, there are different speeds. The downstream speeds offered by residential broadband providers are faster than the upstream speeds.
Broadband technology can be divided into two categories: wireless and landline. Physical networks that provide a direct wired connection from the customer to the service provider are used by fixed telephony solutions to communicate. On the other hand, wireless solutions rely on radio or microwave frequencies to connect customer and operator networks. Broadband usage has increased over time.

The number of people using the internet is expected to reach 4.9 billion in 2021, up from 4.1 billion in 2019, according to estimates from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized organization for information technology. information and communication (ICT). . Broadband speed is also increasing. The average global broadband speed is expected to increase to 110.4 Mbps by 2023, more than twice as fast as the average speed of 45.9 Mbps recorded in 2018. While mobile speeds are expected to increase from 13.2 Mbps in 2018 to an average of 43.9 Mbps in 2023.
A strong economy and a good internet connection go hand in hand. Today, businesses and individuals rely on broadband to transact, communicate, gather information, use technology, and more. That means fast, affordable connectivity is essential, and going without a broadband connection is like stepping back in time.

The agency responsible for oversight and broadband services in Nigeria is Galaxy Backbone (GBB). Incorporated in 2006, Galaxy Backbone is a public enterprise under the Federal Government of Nigeria with primary responsibility for establishing and managing a unified information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure platform that meets connectivity, cross-functionality and other technology imperatives for Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). In order to achieve the MDG targets, the company was also tasked with managing a backbone network spanning the entire country. This network will help rural towns and underserved areas to be digitally inclusive.
Nigeria and the rest of the world have seen substantial technological changes over the past few years.

This is evident and felt not only in the corporate sector, but also in the public sector organizations and institutions for which Galaxy Backbone was created to support and deliver technology services. When they began operations in 2006, their first primary goal was to help reduce and ultimately eliminate the barriers that previously existed in government due to the varied and costly ways in which technology operations were delivered across government departments, departments and agencies. Additionally, they were tasked with developing a shared services platform that would include domestic and international VSAT hubs, a data center, a metropolitan fiber network in the federal capital, and numerous redundant Internet gateways. Significant efforts have been made in this area, and federal government entities have all noted a noticeable influence. We can say that there has been a significant improvement in the way the government interacts with businesses, the global community and the general public.

In recognition of some of the outstanding work it has done in government institutions in Nigeria over the years, Galaxy Backbone has been awarded the Public Service Award for Promoting Whole of Government Approach in the Information Age by United Nations in 2013. An award shared with similar organizations working in more technologically advanced regions of the world. Galaxy Backbone was awarded in 2018 by the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), an industry-led stakeholder organization, for its digital innovation in the federal government circle. Also in 2020, during the Nigeria Tech Innovation and Telecoms Awards (NTITA 2020), Galaxy Backbone (GBB), received the Public Sector Connectivity Service Provider of the Year award.

Galaxy Backbone works hard to maintain, administer and support the technology experience it wants its consumers to have under the leadership of Prof. MB Abubakar and Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim. However, the organization is aware that, given its enormous responsibility, achieving its goals would require the cooperation and support of other service providers and customers. It is true that Galaxy Backbone offers comparable services to several other ICT companies, however, hardly any company offering comparable services has the same amount and extent of infrastructure as GBB.

The organization invests heavily in cybersecurity solutions to ensure that the data of any business or individual using its platform is secure. GBB maintains crucial infrastructure that is essential to the development and long-term sustainability of Nigeria’s digital economy. Its position as an enabling organization is strengthened through this infrastructure.

Fom Gyem writes from Wuye District in Abuja