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2.3 GHz, Nitel/Mtel Muddles Killing Telecom

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The fast paced growth that greeted the initial telecom revolution in Nigeria is slowing down and it is disheartening.
Like everything Nigeria, the country is allowing opportunities that come on a platter of gold disappear because of self interest and greed.
It is also shocking that the reasons for the slow growth are feeble.
Look at the odious government intervention that halted the 2.3 GHz licensing round; and the claims and counter charges that greeted the privatization of Nitel/Mtel, the premier national carrier.
These events took the shine off the industry pushing investors to sit on the fence and watch with cautious optimism as Nigeria smears her feces on self.
The 2.3GHz frequency band licensing round is a clear case of executive recklessness and some degree of arrogance.
Where two elephants fight, it is the grass that bears the brunt. In this case as minister of information and communications and the former executive vice chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) threw their weights around, the country lost ground and is yet to recover.
It would be recalled that in 2009, the Nigerian Communications Commission cleared four companies to receive spectrum in the 2.3GHz frequency range out of the 41 applications it received.
The process was entangled in controversy at the close of the bid when three companies: Mobitel Limited, Spectranet and Galaxy Wireless were said to have met the obligations and later NCC claimed that Galaxy Wireless did not pay up as at when due and allegedly attempted to replace them with Multilinks-Telkom.
It will be recalled that government cancelled the licences citing improper bidding and auctioning process and ordered a fresh sale but the determined Mobitel pressed its case and got its license.
Apart from Mobitel which got the nod to roll out on 2.3 GHz (the robust next generation technology), three more licenses are still in the freezer.
Also in the freezer is Nigeria’s chance to harness the technology touted as very important in the race leading up to broadband revolution because it helps operators provide mobile WiMAX services that are potentially much more transformative than any lone technological item.
As the uncertainty over the licenses lingers, stakeholders are asking if one man or group can hold down a country of more than 140 million people.
In the short term, Nigeria is thought to be losing over $2billion in fresh investment and chance to make broadband affordable and enhanced.
Broadband revolution is about a huge increase in the range of services that can be offered via the internet and digital television. It promises a new age in entertainment and communications, as well as a major boost for e-commerce.
Elsewhere, the continued inactivity at Nitel/Mtel has seen customers leave operator in their droves, due to poor network quality, with several service outages.
It is now doubtful if carrier can regain the ground that it has lost to its larger rivals.
Attempts to rejig the company with the recent privatization which saw New Generations Telecommunications Consortium emerging the winner with $2.5billion offer for Nitel/Mtel has been embroiled in controversy.
It is shocking that government is still hesitant to accept the sum for a carrier said to be worthless.
The sale to New Generation Consortium was the fifth on the long and tortuous journey to privatize the national carrier.
The rational thing to do would been to grant the consortium nod and wait and see if they would not meet their offer.
Coupled with the seeming lethargy in the auctioning of the remaining 2.3 GHz licenses, it appears Nigeria may sit at outskirt of the burgeoning broadband revolution.
The only way to avoid that is to ensure that every operator which is entitled to any license gets it.
The federal government should be mindful of sending wrong signals to foreign investors with its reckless policy somersault and reversals.
At least in the interest of the masses which the government claims to represent, telecom should be allowed to ‘cheetah pole-vault’ the economy.
If this is done Nigeria stands to gain from broadband revolution said to be of the same magnitude as the industrial revolution of the 1800s.
It is touted with the ability to speed up education, human resource development, as well as research and development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Court Dismisses Base Stations Lawsuit Against ATC, MTN

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ATC Nigeria, a subsidiary of American Tower Corporation, and MTN Nigeria scored a major victory in court last week over constructing or operating base transceiver stations “within close proximity” to stations owned by IHS Towers Nigeria.

The lawsuit against the two had been filed by non-profit organisation, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre, in November 2023.

Additionally, HEDA also filed a contempt of court case against ATC Nigeria’s CEO, Errol Ambler-Smith, seeking his arrest, which HEDA later withdrew.

ATC Nigeria announced that on Friday, June 21, 2024, the court struck out HEDA’s suit against ATC Nigeria and MTN Nigeria on the grounds that it was speculative and failed to disclose any reasonable cause of action.

American Tower said it has “always been and remains committed to upholding” the highest standards of legal compliance and operational integrity in all its activities.

“We are pleased that the court recognised the speculative nature of HEDA’s lawsuit, and we are hopeful that this outcome will send a message to other similar potential speculative lawsuits. We appreciate the support and understanding of all our stakeholders as we continue to invest in, and provide critical infrastructure for, Nigeria’s telecommunications industry,” ATC Nigeria said in a statement.


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Airtel Boosts Sickle Cell Awareness with CrimsonBow Initiative Collaboration

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In commemoration of this year’s World Sickle Cell Day, Airtel Nigeria partnered with the CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative to host a well-attended sickle cell awareness and clinic over the weekend, at Dansol Primary School, Ikeja, Lagos.

The event which aimed at improving sickle cell education and supporting individuals living with sickle cell disease, featured free counselling for sickle cell patients, free medical testing, drug dispensing, and sensitization sessions to educate the public about the sickle cell disease.

Through the partnership, much-needed support and resources were provided to affected individuals while promoting early detection and proper management of the condition.

Commenting on the involvement of Airtel in the program, Chief Commercial Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Femi Oshinlaja, emphasized Airtel’s dedication to good health as part of the telecommunication company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals.

“We are proud to partner with CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative in this important endeavour, as it reflects our commitment to corporate social responsibility and improving community health outcomes. The goal of this partnership is to provide crucial support to individuals living with sickle cell disease and to help raise awareness about the condition.

“Through this partnership, we strongly hope to make a positive impact on the lives of those affected,” he said.

Speaking at the event, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative, Timi Edwin, expressed gratitude to Airtel. In her remarks, “This partnership with Airtel Nigeria allows us to extend our reach and provide essential services to more individuals living with sickle cell disease. We appreciate Airtel Nigeria for their support in making this event possible.”

Airtel Nigeria has continued to reinforce its position as an organization committed to the well-being of the society through various corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Asides initiative partnerships like this to combat the challenges faced by individuals living with sickle cell disease, they continue to make strides under several CSR initiatives, contributing to the overall effort to enhance the general wellness of Nigerians.

 


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Tinubu appoints Tunji Bello as CEO of FCCPC

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President Bola Tinubu has appointed Olatunji Bello as the new Chief Executive Officer/Executive Vice-Chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, who disclosed this in a statement on Monday, noted that the appointment is pending confirmation by the Senate.

He said that the President expects that the new Chief Executive Officer of this important agency will ensure the holistic realization of the Commission’s mandate of protecting and promoting the interest and welfare of Nigerian consumers and ensuring the adoption of measures to guarantee the safety and quality of goods and services.

Bello, who is a lawyer, administrator, and renowned journalist, is the former secretary to the Lagos State Government and holds a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos.

“He studied Law at the same university and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2002,” the statement read.

“Bello began his career in journalism at the Concord Newspapers in 1985 and held the positions of Group Political Editor; Sunday Concord Editor, and Editor, National Concord.

“He is a winner of the US Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship and was appointed the Chairman, Editorial Board of THISDAY Newspapers in 2001.

“He also served as Commissioner for Environment under various administrations in Lagos State.


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