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3G Technology and Access Challenge

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The 3G race in the space begun when the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) signified its intension to award the licenses to Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators in 2006 barely five years after GSM service was launched in the country.

The competition complete with media blitz of the first to get the license and the first to launch the service began.

The three Major operators Celtel, MTN and Glo eventually secured the license and began the process of deploying the technology in order to launch the service.

3G is radio communications technology that creates a "bit pipe" for providing mobile access to internet-based services. It enhances and extends mobility in many areas of our lives.

In essence, mobility won’t be an add-on; it will become a fundamental aspect of many services. Consumers expect high-speed access to the internet, entertainment, information and electronic commerce (e-commerce) services wherever we are-not just on our desktop computers, home PCs or television sets.

3G services add an invaluable mobile dimension to services that are already becoming an integral part of modern business life: Internet and intranet access, video conferencing, and interactive application sharing.

We are not just talking about "road warriors" who spend their entire lives traveling. It’s more a question of supporting new, flexible working practices where employees need access to a wide range of information and services via their corporate intranets, whether they are at their own desk or anywhere else.

Employees spend some of their working at home, Accountants that carry out audits at client premise, on-site maintenance engineers who need access to detailed instruction manuals, such as mobile emergency services who need a video link with a hospital or doctor for specialized advice. These are a few situations where 3G will play a valuable role.

We’re likely to see 3G services enter our day-to-day lives in all sorts of new ways: for instance, in shopping, especially internet "mail order" (e-commerce), banking, or playing interactive computer games over the net.

We’ll think nothing but sitting on the train and using a mobile palmtop with internet browser to log into our bank accounts. While on-line we’ll be able to check our accounts, pay a few bills and click on a screen icon to immediately set up a video-conference to discus our account with a bank clerk.

On vacation, we’ll be able to use our mobile palmtop to obtain local tour guides, make a last minute reservation at a hotel, find and call the nearest taxi firm, and send video postcards. We’ll expect location-independent mobile access to a personalized set of services that matches the way we live and work.

Increasingly, machine-to-machine communications will also be enabled and enhanced with future mobile network technology. Domestic appliances will have built-in-radio modems to provide remote control and diagnostics. Our refrigerators will have built-in sensors that detect which items need restocking and automatically send a reminder message to our Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). We could even get the refrigerator to send an order direct to our local store. Likewise, vending machine will be able to tell the warehouse when they need restocking.

In what many describe as an effort geared towards kick starting all the various benefits of 3G services that Celtel, MTN and Glo launched the service late last year. But the manner and subsequent luster attitude to drive the service to potential subscribers leave much to be desired.

The launch of the service which should have been celebrated as another major achievement in our process of development in the telecommunications sector of the economy turned out as a source of competition. While MTN had planed the launch of its branded 3.5G to the media and business community, Glo sent press release to media houses claiming that it’s 3G plus was live on its network.

Mohammed Jameel, group chief operating officer, Globacom, explained that the Glo Mobile 3G Plus network will, in addition to giving customers high speed mobile internet access, allow them to do video calls and video streaming on their 3G enable handsets. He continued thus "it also offers other advanced mobile services such as video greeting kiosk, video mail box, video conferencing on both phones and PCs and such other services as are possible on the 3G High-Speed Downlink Packet Access(HSDPA) network which enables speeds up to 3.6 Mega bytes per second(Mbps)." he stated. He said that the services available on Glo 3G Plus include video calling, high speed internet access either on 3G phone or laptop via data cards, video and audio streaming and mobile TV. "As to the mobile TV, the channels available for now are CNN, Sliverbird TV and Fashion TV just as the Glo COO promised that more are coming soon. And that the 3G Plus network will revolutionize the way data is transferred and relayed digitally as it enables a much faster transmission of data, voice, broadband internet and multimedia services over a range of frequencies," Jameel explained.

Challenges thereafter

Although some of the challenges in being experienced by GSM operators in the launch of 3G services were envisaged before the launch, but were of view that those challenges will be address as the services takes root. Among the challenges is limited access, this could be explained in two folds, for the service to be accessed by subscribers there should be provision of the service by the operator on its network by making the service live on its network and on the side of subscribers, they need to have 3G compactable mobile phones that will enable them enjoy the service. Today, months after the launch Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigation can reveal that the service is still restricted to three major towns claimed as commercially viable, they are Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. One wonders the sense of hooking up to a service that is restricted to very few cities, if such situation is not going to limit the use of the service. Imagine one who lives in Lagos but has to travel for business to Kaduna, Benin; Kano and Enugu not enjoy the service while in these cities. State government official in states outside the three presently covered states can not enjoy the service considering that most of them are heavy spenders in communications.

More so, there are paltry, 300,000 3G mobile phones in the country according to Mr. Bola Akingbade, chief marketing officer, MTN when it launched the service, he argued that the number is too small for competition when the service was launched. This he said was responsible for the network’s look warm attitude towards launching its 3.5G service commercially. He noted that they are partnering with mobile phone manufacturers towards reducing the cost of acquisition of 3G compatible phones to increase the number.

This effort Nigeria CommunicationsWeek gathered could not be realized as GSM network operators was faced with the issue of poor quality of service that led to Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ban all promotions geared towards increasing their subscriber base that may result in compounding the poor quality of service.

Against this backdrop, that the current promo on MTN/DSTV mobile television from MTN is attributed to Multichoice as the sponsor in order not to be sanctioned by the regulatory body.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations however, revealed that the ban has made it difficult for Celtel now Zain Nigeria, MTN and Glo Mobile to reap the economic value of the service. It was also gathered that the Blackberry that the three major GSM networks are selling to the same class of subscribers that will make use of 3G services is adversely affecting the marketing of 3G services.

Although, there are some differences between what Blackberry can do compared to 3G technology, A BlackBerry, is a push technology with an Enterprise Server or Desktop Redirector software that ‘pushes’, or redirects, new e-mail, calendar updates, documents and other data straight to the user over the Internet and the cell phone network.

The software determines the capabilities of the BlackBerry and lets people establish criteria for the information they want to have delivered. The criteria can include message type and size, specific senders and updates to specific programs or databases. Once all of the parameters have been set, the software waits for updated content. When a new message or other data arrives, the software formats the information for transmission to and display on the BlackBerry. It packages e-mail messages into a kind of electronic envelope so the user can decide whether to open or retrieve the rest of the message.

The BlackBerry listens for new information and notifies the user when it arrives by vibrating, changing an icon on the screen or turning on a light. The BlackBerry does not poll the server to look for updates. It simply waits for the update to arrive and notifies the user when it does. With e-mail, a copy of each message also goes to the user’s inbox on the computer, but the e-mail client can mark the message as read once the user reads it on the BlackBerry.

 


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Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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NDPR to Safeguard Personal Data of Nigerians -DG NITDA

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Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has disclosed that the motive behind the issuance of Nigerian Data Protection Regulations, (NDPR) by the Agency was to safeguard the right of natural persons to data privacy, fostering safe conduct for transactions involving the exchange of personal data, enablement of Nigerian businesses to be globally compliant and competitive and to create jobs for Nigerians.

 

Mallam Abdullahi revealed this Friday while delivering the keynote address  at the 6th annual conference of Institute Internal Auditors of Nigeria, (IIAN) with the theme:, “Agility and Resilience” which was held on zoom conference platform.

 

The Conference aimed at preparing participants across Internal Audits, Internal Controls, risk management, revenue and Government assurance and other business professionals to learn how to leverage on new technologies and procedures towards actualisation of the organisation’s goals and objectives.

 

The NITDA DG who was represented Director e-Government Development and Regulations, Dr Vincent Olatunji stated that since inception of the Agency in 2001, it has been playing a catalytic roles to spur the infusion of technology into nation’s work processes reiterating that the Agency plays “critical roles in capacity development, provision of working tools for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

 

“NITDA also has an existing arrangement with the office of the Auditor General of the Federation to aid the office in the discharge of its activities.”

 

Mallam Abdullahi said, “The Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) was issued on 25th January, 2020 by my predecessor, DrIsa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

 

“As part of his think-tank then, our thinking was that Nigeria needed to quickly provide a regulatory framework for the processing of personal data.

 

“This was even more pertinent in consideration of the global implications of non-performance.

 

“Businesses where losing bids because investors felt there was no data privacy regime in Nigeria.

 

“The Agency’s implementation of the NDPR has been innovative and impact oriented. For the first time in data protection implementation, auditors became recognised as Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCO)”.

 

He maintained that NITDA has 72 licensed DPCOs among which are members of this “august body,” adding that “this posture is not as a result of lack of professionals in the IT industry, rather, we have made conscious efforts to carry every relevant stakeholder along in our developmental regulatory strategy.

 

“ I hope this noble institute would repay NITDA’s generosity by imbibing ethical and professional principles on your members for better implementation of the Regulation.”

 

Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, New Capital Cooperatives Society Mr. Benedict Anyalenka while commending the organisers of the conference affirmed that data privacy and protection should be a requisite skill needed for development of the Information Technology Sector as it would create platform for protection of information against unauthorized usage.

 

Anyalenka, however, called for proper awareness on the importance of data privacy among organisations and stakeholders across the country to safeguard citizens’ data.


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FG Reveals Plans to Deploy Technology in the Health Sector

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As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government of Nigeria has announced plans to deploy information and communications technology (ICT) in the country’s health sector.

This is part of the plans to achieve transparency and accountability in health care delivery across the country.

Dr. Ngozi R. C. Azodoh, director, Special Projects, Federal Ministry of Health, who represented Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire, Honourable Minister of Health, revealed this while speaking at MTN Nigeria’s Revv Programme masterclass on Thursday, September 17, 2020 .

The virtual session themed ‘Bridging the healthcare divide through technology and partnerships’ had in attendance health sector experts including Chief Executive Officer, Hygeia HMO Limited, Obinnia Abajue; Chief Operations Officer and Co-Founder, Afya Care, Kola Oni; Managing Director, Ingress Health Partners, Dr. Orode Doherty and Chief Executive Officer, Tremendoc Limited, Ugochukwu Chikezie. The session was moderated by the General Manager, Business Development, MTN Nigeria, Omotayo Ojulatayo.

According to Azodoh, the federal government has put structures in place to utilise ICT as part of efforts to standardise the healthcare system.

“The government is working hand in hand with state governments across the country to maintain transparency and accountability, adding that ICT and other forms of electronic platforms are currently being improved and expanded following the federal government’s COVID intervention”.

She also shared that the ministry is willing to support small businesses in the sector imploring the participating SMEs to seize the opportunities provided by The Revv Programme.

“I want to ask everyone who is listening to write to the MTN Revv team and say this is one thing I want the Federal Ministry of Health to do to help my business then we can engage on how to proceed,” she enthused.

In her parting remarks, she also commended MTN Nigeria for providing a platform for SMEs to expand their capacity. “I must commend MTN for this excellent initiative. It has been very productive for me and an opportunity to transfer knowledge.”

The Revv Programme is an initiative from MTN Nigeria to help small businesses rethink and retool their operations in order to withstand the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic using a four-pronged approach that includes masterclasses, access to market, productivity tools support and advisory initiatives.


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Peace House Charity Foundation Seeks for DCTC Intervention

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Mallam Kashifu InuwaAbdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), asserted that if we do not empower our people, they become a problem to the society in future.

 

He made this know on Friday while receiving a delegation from Peace House Charity Foundation,Yola who were at the Agency’s Corporate Headquarter, Abuja to seek for interventions in the areas of ICT.

 

The representative of the Director General, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, Director eGovernment Development and Regulation stated that one of the mandate of the Agency is the deployment of ICT infrastructure as such the Foundation’s visit at this time is very apt as the Agency is relentlessly working on the implementation of the Digital Economy strategy.

 

MallamAbdullahi affirmed that Agency at the moment is looking for organisations to partner with to sustain Digital Capacity Training Centres deployed across the country.

 

He commended the effort of the organisation in assisting orphans with not only providing basic education but also the provision of skills, mentorship and moral upbringing.

 

Speaking earlier, Mr Mohammad Bello, a Director with the Foundation said that the organisation was at the Agency to seek for ICT intervention and to commend NITDA’s effort in promoting ICT knowledge across the nation.

 

He stated that the organisation supports education for the orphans and the less privileged,  promote health care delivery especially among women and children, provide sensitisation workshop for parents (mothers) on parenting and matrimonial home, promote unity and encourage self-reliance among the populace.

 

 

 

 

 


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