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Angst as OTTS Bite N370Bn off Telcos Revenue

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Over-the-top (OTT) services are now comfortably eating lunch of the telecommunications industry by de-layering that space and at last count have bitten off about N370 billion from the revenue of telecommunications operators in the country.

Angst as OTTS Bite N370Bn off Telcos Revenue

YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Blackberry Messenger and many others are the so-called over-the-top services.

They carry services over the networks, delivering value to customers, but without any carrier service provider being involved in planning, selling, provisioning, or servicing them must be checked.

According to a recent investigation by the Guardian, the activities of OTTs led to revenue losses put at N370 billion in 2019 as MTN, Globacom, Airtel, 9Mobile earned about ₦2.78tr from airtime sales and others.

The figure compared to N3.15tr in the corresponding period of 2018.

Also Average Revenue Per User (ArPU) fell by 20 per cent from $4.87 (N1,490) to $3.85 (N1,182) going by the official exchange rate of N305 to N306 per dollar in the period under review.

ArPU is used primarily by consumer communications, digital media and networking companies and is defined as the total revenue divided by the number of subscribers.

Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the umbrella body of telecom operators in the country, has consistently insisted that it is not right that a company providing traditional telecommunications services has to meet certain regulatory requirements, like those concerning data protection, while a company providing comparable services over the web does not.

Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, ALTON, recently said that “We are beginning to see the need for regulators to look at regulating technology instead of services.

“For example, the likes of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Blackberry Messenger and many others are called over-the-top services that are not part of the core services for which operators are licensed.

“These over-the-top services have social, economic and security implications. If they are not licensed, it means they are not regulated, and in that case, there is no limit to the scope of what they can do. There is also no control over services and content they may provide,” he said.

But Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said that it has no plans to regulate OTT services.

Professor Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC, last year, while acknowledging the impact of disruptive technology in the sector and the challenges it poses to telcos in terms of competition for market share, encouraged network providers in Nigeria to innovate.

Human rights activists however, said that though regulation can be necessary to protect users’ rights – like it is to ensure data protection – some regulatory proposals risk our right to freedom of expression and can also thwart economic, social, and cultural rights.

Nelson Ceasar Obidile urged that regulator to be mindful of right-harming policy if it decides to regulate OTT.

 


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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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9mobile Urges Subscribers to Link their NIN to Their Phone Lines to Avoid Disconnection

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Telecommunication network, 9mobile, has urged its subscribers who have not linked their SIM cards with their National Identity Number (NIN) to carry out the exercise on or before February 28, 2024, to avoid disconnection from the network.

Customers who do not comply with this directive will be unable to make or receive calls, have no access to the internet, no SMS, no One Time Password (OTP), and no bank alerts.

This was revealed by the Director, Customer Care at 9mobile, Ehimare Omoike, who said that this action was in line with the directive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The Commission had in December 2023 directed that all telephone subscribers must have their NIN linked on their operator’s network to verify the identity of the phone users and minimize the criminal use of network services. At the moment, more than 35% of subscribers’ lines are yet to be linked to their NIN, forcing authorities to issue a deadline.

Ehimare noted that customers whose mobile lines are not linked to their NIN will be disconnected from all telecommunication service of the network. “Your line will be disconnected when you do not link your SIM to your National Identity Number (NIN).

“The implication here is that as a subscriber on 9mobile network, you will be completely shut out from access to the virtual world and you will be greatly inconvenienced.

“We therefore urge all our valued subscribers to endeavour to link their mobile lines with their NIN before February 28, 2024, to keep enjoying endless and seamless value offerings that enhance their lifestyle from 9mobile.”

He advised 9mobile subscribers to go and link their line now by visiting any 9mobile outlets for instant linking of their lines, or visit  https://9mobile.com.ng/experience-centres to check the nearest 9mobile experience centers.

It will be recalled that the compulsory registration by Nigerians of the National Identity Number (NIN) and the subsequent linkage of the NIN to their Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards is a policy by the Federal Government through the NCC to improve the integrity and transparency of the SIM registration process and consolidate the achievements of the SIM registration exercise of 2019.

The long-term goal of this initiative is to attain a widespread digital identity database and improve security in Nigeria.

The linking involves validating the NIN with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and matching the subscriber’s NIN records with the SIM registration information (verification) to ensure proper subscriber identification.

 


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Airtel Ads to Support African Businesses Achieve Effective and Enhanced Advertising Reach

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Airtel Africa has launched Airtel Ads, Africa’s first integrated Demand-Side Platform (DSP) aimed at empowering advertisers and agencies to efficiently manage, purchase, and optimize digital ad inventory across multiple ad exchanges in real-time.

Powered by Intent.ai, Airtel Ads is designed for media agencies and businesses, streamlining the process of purchasing advertising space.

This feature enables advertisers to make informed ad placement decisions by combining various tools and functionalities within a single platform and offers a comprehensive solution for digital advertising management.

The platform will leverage Airtel Africa’s extensive customer base of more than 150 million customers, utilizing data from both telecommunications services and mobile wallets.

This approach aims to not only target digitally engaged individuals but also include those traditionally excluded from the digital realm through its 2G and feature phone user base.

Additionally, through the integrated Airtel Voice Reward Ads, the platform has the capability to reach consumers on various devices.

Understanding the current limitations in ad performance for organisations, Airtel Ads aims to seamlessly merge all ad networks with Airtel Africa’s first party telecommunications data.

It will provide a unified advertising platform with precise audience segmentation, a dedicated marketing team, data analytics with post-campaign support in addition to both native language support and access to 260+ bidding parameters.

The platform, powered by ai based brand safety tools, will also accept payments in local African currencies.

Since its inception, the platform has achieved a weekly audience reach of 27 billion impressions, 23.5 million in-app daily impressions and over 200 million daily SMS notifications daily with end-of-SMS tag messaging potential.

Speaking on the launch, Airtel Africa’s Chief Commercial Officer, Anthony Shiner said: “We are excited to introduce Airtel Ads in Africa. This innovative platform will support advertisers and businesses to gain unprecedented control over their marketing campaigns, leveraging Airtel Africa’s extensive customer base and world class technology.

“Airtel Ads is a testament to our leadership in shaping the communications landscape in Africa, ensuring businesses are supported to achieve their objectives using data first tools to inform their business decisions.”


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Anambra State ICT Agency Unveils Pilot Phase of Free Public Wi-Fi Initiative in Awka

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In a monumental leap toward transforming Anambra State into a smart mega city, Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, CFR, has reaffirmed his commitment to a technologically advanced future for the state, through the launch of the pilot phase of the Public Wi-Fi initiative tagged Solution Wi-Fi.

Driven by the Anambra State ICT Agency in collaboration with Pineheight Systems Limited (PHSWEB), this pilot phase initiative, which signposts a resounding fulfillment of promises outlined in the People’s Manifesto, marks a significant stride towards launching the state into the digital age.

As part of his visionary manifesto detailed on Pages 20 and 33, Governor Soludo pledged to “Provide cheap (and ultimately free) Wi-Fi hotspots in public places for the takeoff of the State’s emergence into the digital age” and “Work with development partners to deploy broadband access to schools across all levels and public libraries to improve access to the internet for all and continue to build the digital tribe.”

According to a statement signed by the MD/CEO of the Anambra State ICT Agency, Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata, CFA, the agency is dedicated to realizing Governor Soludo’s vision of “Everything Technology, Technology Everywhere”, adding that this pilot phase is part of the ongoing technological transformation under the Soludo Agenda.

CFA explained, “The broader vision includes collaboration with development partners to provide broadband access to schools and public libraries, thereby enhancing internet accessibility across all strata of the society.”

CFA emphasized that the Solution Wi-Fi initiative, now operational in three strategic locations in the state capital Awka namely Aroma Junction, Book Foundation, and UNIZIK Back gate, will see users within these locations enjoy one hour of free internet access, every 24 hours, during the pilot phase.

He further explained that all 3 locations are not only strategic but quite important for students and businesses alike. “The deployment of the Solution Wi-Fi to these areas will no doubt boost educational activities while businesses can also leverage it to enhance their online presence.

“High speed and free internet access can also help our teeming young population to begin to create content that will yield revenue amongst other prospects, the opportunities are endless,” CFA concluded.

To access the free Solution Wi-Fi, businesses around the designated locations and individuals, can upon activation of their Wi-Fi, and selection of “Solution Wi-Fi”, follow the SMS authentication prompt, to create a username (phone number). After which they will receive an auto-generated code via SMS. This code serves as the password, granting them one hour of fast internet access per day, with an effective range of up to 200 meters, depending on the user’s device.

This groundbreaking initiative underscores Anambra State’s unwavering commitment to technological excellence, recently acknowledged at the National Council on Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy (NCCIDE) meeting in Kano, where the state received prestigious awards, including Overall Best State in Digital Technology Development, First Position for Best State in Digital Infrastructure Technology Development, and First Runner-up in e-government Implementation and Digital Technology Human Capital Development.

Anambra State proudly takes its place on the technology map of Nigeria, a testament to Governor Soludo’s steadfast commitment and investment in technology, and the State ICT Agency reaffirms its commitment to a future marked by technological advancement, innovation, and unparalleled progress for the state.


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