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5G and Enterprise, a Match Made for Growth

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By Lucky La Riccia

Digital technologies are transforming industries worldwide. With 5G being deployed across the region, service providers increasingly recognize the new business opportunities that digital transformation of the enterprise market will bring. However, to successfully address these opportunities and accelerate longer-term growth, they need to extend their focus from traditional revenue streams to center on digitalizing targeted industries.

While leading service providers in the region are already taking steps to look beyond connectivity and focusing on a few specific industries, they should also expand their strategic ambition beyond mobile broadband in each targeted industry.

According to Ericsson report titled “Capturing business opportunities beyond mobile broadband”, almost half of the total projected value of industry digitalization will be enabled by 5G in 2030.

Service providers’ revenues from existing business, mainly driven by connectivity, are expected to remain stagnant. It is a must to look into new opportunities to capture a larger share of the potential global ICT revenue enabled by 5G, a figure up to USD 700 billion in 2030 (across 10 industries).

Critical capabilities and closing the readiness gap

For most service providers, business, operational and technical capabilities are highly critical in capturing business opportunities beyond mobile broadband. As the current gap to reach the desired state is wide, service providers must begin ramping up the most critical capabilities, particularly on the business and operational fronts, to ensure successful execution.

The top five capabilities pinpointed as most critical are:

  1. Effective B2B and B2B2X go-to-market: To engage with enterprise customers beyond legacy business, an effective go-to-market model is crucial. This involves efficient and scalable processes for engaging with customers and partners, and for distributing insights and learnings across the organization. Moreover, it concerns making sure sales teams are properly equipped to understand and address enterprise customers’ business challenges.
  2. Leadership and culture: Leadership involves ensuring the enterprise segment receives the right level of attention from both top and middle management, and that the strategic priorities are clear. The culture should support and strengthen the strategic ambition and priorities beyond legacy business, for example through encouraging co-creation and a customer-oriented and innovative mindset.
  3. Industry knowledge of targeted verticals: This capability refers to having the optimal processes and resources in place to ensure an organizational understanding of industry trends, as well as customers’ business challenges, strategic priorities and digitalization needs. This is key to efficiently design, develop and sell relevant solutions to customers.
  4. Skills: Developing and selling new solutions in new ways requires a different set of workforce competencies. Therefore, organizations must ensure sales teams are ready to serve enterprises beyond legacy business by being able to build a deeper understanding of their business needs and strategically engaging with other decision makers.

Moreover, the workforce must adapt to automation and software-based operations. If these competencies are not acquired through partners, service providers must ensure appropriate processes and tools to upskill, cross-skill, recruit and retain sought-after competencies.

Service orchestration, assurance and automation: This capability refers to automating the design, creation and delivery of end-to-end network services, while guaranteeing quality and optimizing data analysis and decision-making.

This is important, as networks are becoming more real-time oriented, driven by customers’ preferences for innovation and speed, and the need to meet or exceed those expectations with increased agility and lower cost structures. Orchestration answers the call for more dynamic management of information and technology in converged ICT networks, and supports services and resources throughout their life cycle – from planning to fulfillment and closed-loop assurance.

This is a fundamental step in further developing the capability. Ultimately, it should support end-to-end automation from RAN to core, and fully autonomous service orchestration in both internal and external customer IT environments.

At the same time, service providers around the world are not the same, and their digital strategy must be adapted to suit their unique circumstances. Furthermore, the development of execution capabilities should reflect the strategic ambition.

Service providers are in a strong position to capture emerging digitalization opportunities based on their strong customer relationships, extensive network coverage and deep knowledge of digitalization connectivity requirements. Notably, they can offer end-to-end data and network security, which is a key prerequisite in enterprises’ digital transformation.

Only by addressing these key capability gaps, service providers can truly gain the ability to engage, sell and deliver solutions to enterprise segments and truly capture this revenue growth.

Lucky La Riccia is Head of Digital Services at Ericsson Middle East & Africa


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NCC Says 78.9m Nigerians now Connected to Broadband

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed that the number of Nigerians connected to high-speed internet rose to 78.9 million in June.

NCC Says 78.9m Nigerians now Connected to Broadband

Prof Umar Danbatta, EVC, NCC

The data from the commission showed that telecommunications operators in the country added 2.2 million customers to their broadband database in the month to raise the figure from 76.6 million recorded in May.

This raised the country’s broadband penetration from 40.14 per cent in May to 41.27 per cent at the end of June.

The steady growth in penetration has been attributed to the telecoms operators’ aggressive push for deployment of 4G service across the country. To extend the service to more Nigerians, the largest mobile network operator in the country, MTN, recently announced more investments targeted at building more 4G infrastructure

MTN said it planned to spend an estimated N600 billion on technical infrastructure over the next three years as it looks to expand its 4G coverage across the entire country by 2024

The Federal Government also recently launched a new National Broadband Plan (NBP 2020-2025) with a target of achieving 70 per cent penetration in the next five years.

This followed the expiration of the NBP 2013-2018, which delivered 31 per cent penetration as of December 2018.

Aside from the 70 per cent penetration target, the government in the new plan also raised the benchmark speed for broadband service in Nigeria to 25 megapixels per second, which is an improvement from the 1.5mbps benchmark in the 2013-2018 plan.


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Gilat Telecom, Spacecom, Unite to Bolster Satellite Services in Africa

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Spacecom, operator of the AMOS satellites fleet, and Gilat Telecom, a connectivity service provider, have announced a collaboration “to develop a faster, more reliable and more cost-effective satellite service for organisations of all sizes across Africa.”

The service uses Spacecom’s AMOS-17 fully digital and advanced High Throughput Satellite (HTS) on both C and Ku band, and Gilat Telecom’s unique SD-WAN MAX technology.

The companies add that the service, available immediately, can be used for home and office connectivity including video conferences, e-health applications, e-learning, e-education, etc.

They add that the collaboration will benefit African MNOs and ISPs in several ways including CAPEX savings and higher throughput at reduced operational costs.

“Spacecom’s AMOS-17’s HTS fully digital payload enables cross-connection between all beam and all bands enabling the use of existing equipment which can also be set-up remotely by the end customers (on existing or new terminals). Using Gilat Telecom’s intelligent routing, capacity can be expanded by up to 20% (the equivalent of 6 Mbit/s can be achieved from a 5 Mbit/s downlink),” the companies state.

Another benefit is smart traffic management. The companies explain: “Gilat Telecom’s SD-WAN enables service providers and MNOs to centrally control the route that both satellite and fiber traffic takes to and from the customer.

It enables different applications – voice, streaming, caching (Facebook, Netflix, Microsoft cloud services etc.) – to be identified with automatic prioritisation, according to the customer’s needs and demands.”

Dan Zajicek, Spacecom’s CEO said: “This partnership enables us to boost the services offered to customers along with fast returns on investments to these growing markets. We are sure this fruitful cooperation will lead us to many great business opportunities in Africa.”

Asaf Rosenheck, Gilat Telecom’s CEO also said, “We are an innovative company always focused on how we can improve the service we provide to our customers. Our partnership with Spacecom demonstrates how we work across the ecosystem to drive down costs and improve capacity”.


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Encomiums as Sonny Aragba-Akpore Bows Out of NCC

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It was encomiums galore recently as Management and Staff of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) bid the Commission’s Head of Media Management and Public Relations, Sonny Aragba-Akpore, farewell following his retirement.

Aragba-Akpore, former Information and Communications Technology/News editor at the Guardian Newspaper, joined the service of the Commission in 2014.

Speaking at the valedictory party held in his honour on Thursday, which was attended physically and virtually by staff of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, appreciated the level of professionalism Aragba-Akpore brought to bear on his work at the Commission.

Represented at the event by Abigail Sholanke, director, Projects, Danbatta commended Aragba-Akpore for using his many years of industry experience and knowledge as a media professional and corporate communication manager to create a robust relationship with both mainstream and online media stakeholders, which, he said, has contributed significantly to the overall positive image and favourable public perception of NCC.

“On behalf of the Board, Management and Staff of Commission, we wish you a successful retirement and fruitful engagements in your future endeavours,” Danbatta said.

In his remarks, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, director, Public Affairs Department,  said “within the short time I worked with Mr. Aragba-Akpore, I found him to be a man of uncommon passion for his work,” describing him as a very committed and hardworking colleague.

“We, therefore, wish you increased divine favour, as you retire from the services of the Commission.”

Other staff of the Commission, including directors, deputy directors, middle management staff, among others, took turns to talk about the favourable working relationship they had with Aragba-Akpore while at the NCC and wished him well in his retirement life.

Responding, Aragba-Akpore expressed gratitude to the Management and Staff of the Commission for their support and cooperation during his service and for organising a befitting valedictory ceremony in his honour, saying he enjoyed working with the NCC.

“This is one event I will not forget in a hurry. Indeed, I feel I am very lucky and singularly blessed and very appreciative of the privilege to work with a leading telecoms regulator like the NCC. For me, it is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said.


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