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NCC Moves to Settle Banks/Telcos USSD Dispute

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Alhaji Mohammed Babajika, director, Licensing and Authorisation at Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has called for an amicable resolution to the discrepancies in USSD charges received by banks and payments made to telecom operators.

NCC Moves to Settle Banks/Telcos USSD Dispute

Prof Umar Danbatta, EVC, NCC

Babajika made the call during a webinar themed ‘Financial Inclusion in the New Normal, Leveraging Digital Payments’ hosted by CyberPay Limited.

He said there was a need to constitute a dispute resolution and arbitration channel to address issues emerging from mobile banking.

Babajika explained that after a cost-based study on USSD carried out by the commission and the telecoms operators, N1.63 per session was arrived at for USSD access.

He added that despite the low cost, banks were charging as high as N26.88 per session and paying telecoms operators non-proportionate prices.

“The NCC encouraged collaboration with the CBN by seeking a dispute resolution and arbitration channel to address issues that may arise as a result of convergence of finance and ICT,” he said.

The director added, “NCC has carried out an analysis on the cost of providing USSD services and it was found to be N1.63 per second for one session. It is a cost-based study.

“In other words, the cost to telcos is N1.63 whereas, the banks are charging N26.88 and considering the discrepancies, there is a need for the two parties to come together to agree on a workable sharing formula because these are some of the reports we get from our licensees.

“Banks cannot be making N26.88 per session and pay MNOs an amount that is not commensurate or agreeable as it is now.”

According to Babajika, the relationship between the banks and telecoms operators is not fair considering that the telcos own the subscribers, infrastructure and network frequency used by banks for mobile banking.

The telcos and Nigerian banks have been able to reach an agreement on charges for USSD access since October last year when a dispute broke out between both parties.

 


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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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