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Fixed Wireless Access Unlocks a World of Opportunity

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By Chafic Traboulsi

5G networks are now being built out, with performance and capacity gains available to be tapped by new use cases. One of the first will be fixed wireless access (FWA). Around half of all households in the world – over 1 billion – do not have a fixed broadband connection.

Given the current speed and capacity of cellular networks with LTE and its evolution to 5G, there are opportunities for operators to deliver broadband services to homes and small and medium-sized enterprises economically using FWA.

Fixed wireless access (FWA) connections are forecast to grow threefold and reach close to 160 million by the end of 2025, accounting for 25 percent of total mobile network data traffic globally, according to Ericsson Mobility Report.

FWA in the broadband context

There are approximately 2 billion households in the world. By the end of 2019, approximately 1.2 billion (60 percent) had a fixed broadband connection, and by the end of 2025 this will reach approximately 70 percent.

In this context, FWA will represent 10 percent of fixed broadband connections. However, it is worth mentioning that FWA is also seen as a replacement option for around 300 million existing DSL connections.

Considering the number of FWA connections, many households consist of several individuals using the same connection. However, in the mobile broadband context, there are more connections than individuals. The forecast of close to 160 million FWA connections by the end of 2025 represents approximately 570 million individuals having access to a wireless broadband connection.

There are three main factors that drive the FWA market and the uptake of connections:

  1. Demand from consumers and businesses for digital services continues, driving the need for broadband connectivity.
  2. FWA delivered over 4G or 5G is an increasingly cost-efficient broadband alternative in areas with limited availability of fixed services such as DSL, cable or fiber. Increasing capacity – allowed by greater spectrum allocations and technology advancements for 4G and 5G networks – is driving higher network efficiency in terms of the cost per delivered gigabyte.
  3. Governments are fueling broadband connectivity through programs and subsidies, as it is considered vital for digitalization efforts and economic growth.

Future Outlook

With the disruption caused by COVID-19, the demand for wireless household broadband has probably never been greater. In a recent study on mobile service provider offerings, 185 out of 309 providers had an FWA offering. Compared to December 2018, this number has almost doubled.

We estimate there were 51 million FWA connections by the end of 2019. This number is forecast to grow threefold through 2025, reaching close to 160 million. FWA data traffic is estimated to have represented around 15 percent of global mobile network data traffic by the end of 2019. This is projected to grow by a factor of around 8 to reach 53EB in 2025, accounting for 25 percent of total mobile network data traffic globally.

With the performance and capacity gains from enhanced mobile broadband and the evolution to 5G, FWA will be an opportunity for communications service providers to deploy in many places.

Previous experience from FWA and fixed broadband has shown that an “unlimited” traffic paradigm does not result in infinite demand and network congestion, but is manageable with a combination of performance-based service offerings and average consumption patterns.

Service providers can start on a clear path to capacity expansion by following a procedure of “utilize, add and densify”. First, network assets already in place should be fully utilized, including radio sites, spare capacity in deployed spectrum and associated radio, baseband and transport equipment.

Next, spectrum and radio network capabilities should be added, such as higher-order modulation, advanced antenna systems and beamforming, increased sectorization and 5G NR access as needed. Finally, densification with the addition of macro and small cells when necessary.

An important aspect to keep in mind is that the results may be quite different from one service provider to another. This means that it is unlikely that a replicable template can be used to define the characteristics that will make FWA attractive in a given market.

Chafic Traboulsi is Head of Networks at Ericsson Middle East & Africa.

 


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Kashifu Abdullahi Blazes the Trail at NITDA as Director General

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National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is a federal government agency saddled with the responsibility of developing and ensuring the growth of information technology in the country. The agency formulates policies and programmes to achieve this mandate which is supervised by its director general.

Over the years, the agency has witnessed several director generals who during their tenure have made impacts towards the growth and development of information technology. But, the current director general in the person of Mallam Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi has distinguished himself with several accomplishments within the short period of taking over as the helmsman at the agency.

Come Wednesday August 20, 2020 will mark his first 365 days in office, having been appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR  on August 20, 2019, Mallam Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi has been able to implement notable regulatory instruments: like Nigeria e-Government Interoperability Framework (Ne-GIF); Nigeria Cloud Computing Policy (NCCP);Nigeria ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship Vision (NIIEV);Framework and Guidelines for ICT adoption in Tertiary Institutions; Guidelines for Nigeria Content Development ICT as amended; and Data Protection Implementation Framework.

Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi is a Technology expert with over fourteen years of working experience in Information Technology operations, business transformation and solution architecture, across both private and public sectors.

He graduated with Bachelor of Technology degree in Computer Science from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi State, Nigeria and was Massachusetts Institute of Technology trained as MIT Sloan strategist.

As the world and Nigeria grapple with the effects of COVID-19 and its attendant dire economic impacts on the global economy, the agency under Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi leadership has embarked on strategic projects to ensure that our economy recover from the effects of the pandemic.

The landmark initiatives launched to cushion the effects of the pandemic and ensure that technology continues to enable business continuity were:

Tech4COVID19 Initiative – This initiative was launched to measure the impact of COVID-19 on the tech ecosystem and proffer solutions especially for startups. The Committee set-up by the agency came up with a Strategic Plan to ensure that the country retains about 100,000 ICT Jobs and create an additional 30,000 in the Post COVID-19 Era.

Virtual Startup Clinic – This initiative was setup to gather Startups, mostly young people to meet with mentors, successful entrepreneurs, investors, industry specialists, business consultants and hub operators with the goal of solving problems and challenges they were facing.

Nigeria COVID-19 Innovation Challenge– This is an online innovation challenge held to meet the challenges the country is facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the inaugural challenge 5 startups with highly innovative ideas were selected for the final challenge and 3 of them were selected for further incubation. A support of ₦1 000,000, ₦750,000 and ₦500,000 were won by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd winners respectively.

NITDA Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Support Scheme– This is a scheme to support startups and hubs across the country. With over 120 hubs in Nigeria, NITDA is finalizing plans to ensure rapid intervention is provided for hubs and startups based on competence and carefully selected criteria.

SMART Agric Project- This is an initiative by the agency which aims to engage farmers and focus on using precision/smart farming to ensure significant improvement in crop yield, quality of farm produce, efficiency and productivity; increased profit margin, harvest forecast, sales of farm produce and eco-friendly agriculture practice. During this pandemic, we have engaged 130 farmers on this Project.

NITDA Academy– This is a platform for virtual learning where thousands of young Nigerians can have access to a wide range of educational courses and tools online, this basically addresses challenges students face in assessing educational materials.

Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi at recent event said that his administration will focus on implementing a strategic roadmap for the development of Nigeria’s IT sector, which consists of 7 pillars that are in alignment with the 8 pillars of the National Digital Economy Policy & Strategy.

According to him, “The 7 key pillars of our Roadmap are IT Regulation, Capacity Building, Digital Inclusion, Digital Job Creation, Government Digital Service Promotion, Local Content Development, and Cybersecurity.

“We have rolled out several policies, regulations, and programmes, focusing on those areas.

“However, as the roadmap is set to expire this year as the Nigeria Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which it draws from.

“We have already commenced reviewing it as well as developing the next plan, which will soon be launched.

“It is in alignment with and takes cognizance of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) and other important plans and policies of this administration”.

Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi will no doubt leave an indelible footprint at NITDA and the Nigeria IT space. His unprecedented records of achievements within first one year in office are a testament of his contribution and support to the growth and development of the ICT Sector in Nigeria.


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NCC Says COVID-19 Presents Opportunities and Challenges

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that the Covid 19 pandemic has also drastically changed communication and interaction with digital platforms becoming the norm for carrying out official and personal activities.

NCC Says COVID-19 Presents Opportunities and Challenges

Prof Umar Danbatta, EVC, NCC

Dr. Ikeckukwu Adinde, director, Public Affairs, NCC, who stated this during a virtual meeting with online media journalists yesterday, also said that the digital media environment has brought about new opportunities and challenges for online journalists.

Adinde, said that “One of the many benefits of what you do as an online journalist is the real-time dissemination of information and the immediacy it involves.

“The availability of online news 24/7 and its accessibility and availability to consumers make your work very important, you are therefore constantly faced with the challenge of not only reporting events real-time, sometimes, but balancing that need for speed with the accuracy and integrity demanded by your profession.” He added.

According to him, “the communications sector and telecoms, in particular, is indeed the most vibrant and dynamic sector of the economy  and requires excellent leadership and stewardship, no wonder  President Muhammadu Buhari recently approved the reappointment of Prof. Umar Danbatta as the EVC/CEO of the NCC for another term of five years which has since been  confirmed by the Senate.“

The fate of Nigeria’s telecommunications industry has yet again been entrusted to a tested and trusted hand and you have a role to play to ensure factual reportage of the Commissions activities and initiatives.

He said that the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), the New National Broadband Plan (2020-2025), the NCC Strategic Management Plan (2020-2024), creation of the Digital Economy Department all underscore the policy directions of the Federal Government which the NCC is expected to drive working with the supervising ministry and other relevant industry stakeholders to extend the frontiers of the digital economy for Nigerians.

The director also solicited the  continuous support of the journalists in the area of enlightening the general public on the various consumer-centric regulatory initiatives of the Commission.

“As our online media partners, I urge you to constantly visit the NCC’s official website (www.ncc.gov.ng) which is a repository of information and necessary latest statistics on the performance of the telecommunications industry” headed.


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Mondia Pay Records 5.3Bn Transactions as More Telcos Join

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Mondia Pay, Mondia’s digital payment entity, announced that it recently onboarded a series of new clients and is fast becoming the preferred digital payment solutions provider for telecom operators across Africa. Mondia Pay registered 5.3 billion transactions on its platform last year with telcos across the continent.

A leader in digital platform services, Mondia Pay enjoys partnerships with operators in South Africa, Botswana, Liberia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Sudan, Guinee, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Senegal where it provides telcos with the best billing integration, bundling deals, user engagement and subscriber acquisition services.

Mondia Pay’s success with African telcos can be attributed to the flexibility of its business model which caters to different operator requirements. Subscribers can access premium content, customise their bundle offers and select the payment options that work for them in a fast and secure environment.

Mondia Pay is in the process of onboarding several new partners in Nigeria and the company is now working on launching solutions with telecom operators in Kenya, Mozambique, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burkina Faso.

“We are extremely pleased about Mondia Pay’s success in Africa as it reflects our experience working with over 80 telcos across the world and demonstrates our leadership credentials in the digital payment solutions space,” said Simon Rahmann, CEO of Mondia Pay.

“Smartphone adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa is set to rise to 66% by 2025 (GSMA) which means that access to online services will continue to grow exponentially. The African operators we are talking to are all seeing an increase in payment purchases for digital services and they are keen to get ahead of the curve to capitalise on this opportunity.”

Mondia is an industry leader in content and entertainment services for audience acquisition and engagement. The company helps its partners monetise their entire customer base across mobile, web and apps through innovative and engaging digital experiences.


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