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Preparing for Expected Broadband Revolution

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The growth in telecommunications sector of the country is expected to move from growth level to development where service providers are to consolidate on improved quality of service. Presently, over 80 percent of telephone and internet access in the country are through mobile communications facilitated by satellite and microwave technology. It has been observed by telecom experts that quality of service delivered by operators using the above mentioned technology is affected by atmospheric condition making the technology not suitable for reliable service delivery compared to optic fiber also known as terrestrial infrastructures.
A fibre optic cable is made from a glass or plastic core that carries light surrounded by glass cladding that (due to its lower refractive index) reflects “escaping” light back into the core, resulting in the light being guided along the fibre.
The greatest improvement in access to telephones has had positive impact in virtually all facets of life, including political, social and economic activities, thus resulting in an exponential growth in the subscriber lines due to the widespread of networks across the country.
Currently, the growth and potential earnings accruable from telecommunication services in Nigeria economy is comparable to other markets in the world, and the current rate of network growth across the country is impressive. Quite a number of global technology corporations are extending their operations to Nigeria with a multiplier effect on the economy and international trade between us and other countries of the world and in particular the West African sub region. The result of this is more competitive market environment and high potential for wired line network service providers.
However, it is encouraging to note that despite the current rapid development of telecommunications in Nigeria, there is still a great opportunity for further development as Nigeria being the most popular country in Africa, has an estimated addressable telecommunications market of 120 million subscriber lines, and in view of our landscape, the country remains major market for long distance network operators due to increasing demand for multi service, such as voice, data, broadband internet service, rural telephony access and unified service which provides a biggest prospect for wired line service providers.
Some telecom analysts have argued that due to the mobile nature of Nigerians, and as the demand for mobile services continues to grow, that there will be no room for wired line operators. Experience has shown that in order for predominantly mobile operators to improve on their quality of service they must invest in fibre optic backbone, and in order for them to capture multi service segment of the market, they must invest in last mile terrestrial copper infrastructure: there are two ways around this, one is to begin massive investment in this regard, or to invest and or acquire small and medium sized wired line local loop operators.
As the telecommunications industry evolves, it provides increasing opportunity for wired line networks, as operators are challenged to ensure that every city, towns, villages, hamlets, rivers and creeks in Nigeria are covered with multi services: voice, data, video and broadband internet.
Particularly in the new license regime holders are allowed to provide more than one service under the same license.

Preparing to Move forward
The absence of terrestrial infrastructure in the telecommunications industry is being felt in all service deliveries especially as the industry will soon witness an unprecedented capacity with the landing of two undersea cable Glo 1 which landed last year and MainOne expected to land in few weeks. For instance, in direct-to-home satellite television broadcasting it is a common occurrence for service to be disrupted each time it rains. More so, the hope of offering a broadband internet service cannot be realized with a fibre optic infrastructure. Its absence is responsible for narrow band service rendered in the sector.
It is against this backdrop that telecommunications giant Globacom began its fibre optic ring project across the country. So far, it has completed Abuja to Kano, Minna, Enugu, Owerri among others, even as work on other parts of the country is still ongoing.
Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (Nitel) has fibre optic ring that is not being used probably because it has not found its bearing in the industry with controversies in its privatization process, which resulted in the company’s refusal to lease out the infrastructure to other operators that requested for it to enhance their service delivery to last mile.
This however led to them embarking on similar project. Today, MTN in order to meet the fast growing high- capacity transport and connectivity needs has completed a world-class quality Metropolitan Area Fibre Networks in Ibadan, Kano, Warri and Aba. The implementation supports the rolling out 3G services. This is in addition to 3,885km of fibre optic backbone networks popularly referred to as “Blaze” network. Blaze was implemented in four phase namely: Phase 1&2: Southern and South Eastern rings with a total span of 2,422km Phase 3: Northern ring with a total span of 1,116km Phase 4: Niger Delta (completed in October 2007) with a total span of 347km.
Zain Nigeria is also expected to complete its fibre optic project that spans over 4,000km. All these are geared towards high data rate and wide bandwidth.
Projects of this sort are required by operators to deliver last mile services that are going to be available when the undersea cable infrastructure begins to sale bandwidth to operators at a cheaper cost which is the expected broadband revolution.
Going forward, there will be no longer any difference between mobile service providers or private telephone network operators (PTO) and fixed wireless operators as the technology barrier is removed with the unification of licenses, which in turn is an opportunity for hitherto mobile only operators to harness their network resources and offer bundled application.
However, there is the high risk that smaller ‘legacy’ operators with limited local loop coverage may not have a place in the market, as the bigger players begin to offer services which were mainly offered by smaller local loop operators which is now happening.
In essence, Nigeria will begin to see emergence of mega telecommunication operators that would offer unlimited services to their subscribers, with massive expansion of their network, and enormous benefit for their existing market goodwill, and a significant increase in the demand for multi-service.
A significant impact of this opportunity for the market is to streamline end-of-line service delivery to consumers.
Unification of licenses has finally resulted in genuine unification of services with providers offering attractive discount deals to end-users which will soon be the order of the day in no distant time in telecom landscape.
The market will begin to offer bundled services, as costs are driven down, the competition between wireless and wired line services would continue to grow.
The power of service bundling is becoming manifest, as the market grows and it offers major prospects for wired line service providers.
What this combination means is that the next few years may see wireless ‘only’ providers emerging as largely long distance wholesale carrier providers, and landline telecom companies would remain largely as retail terrestrial and local loop entities.      
In many cases, wireless carriers are saddled with high cost of frequency and bandwidth channels, as such ability to offer consumer friendly rates for multi-service at high quality.
Mr. Gbeng Adebayo, Chief Executive Officer, Communications Network Support Services, said wired line Telcos have introduced very proficient retails rates in the market. “The cost per new customer for a typical wired line subscriber is relatively low and with excellent quality of service. In addition, wired line operators are able to offer multi-service such as broadband internet, high speed data communication and video communication at a very affordable rate without compromise on quality of services,” he said.
Most importantly, because of the fixing nature of infrastructure, the wire line Telco has an ongoing long term relationship with their customers; therefore their customer loyalty is much higher than that of mobile operators.
Market research has shown that in the urban areas, a large number of residential consumers have a higher retention of their fixed lines which offers value added services such as the internet and data connection than their mobile lines.
The Internet today is the largest single network in the world and it will continue to remain for a long time to come as well as a major source of income for wired line operators as the mobile operators continue to battle with high bandwidth charges.
The challenges for wired network operators in Nigeria range from the difficulty in infrastructure deployment multiplicity of right of way approval processes, non willingness of operators to co share underground ducts and exchange of dark fibre, as well as willful and unwilful damage to cable network infrastructure.
However, the major advantage lies in the size of the market, the need to grow the national fibre optic transmission backbone and the increasing demand for bundled multi-service: voice, data communications and broadband internet services which today can be delivered at affordable rates and best quality by fixed network operators.
As the industry prepares for broadband revolution orchestrated by both developments in the sector which is moving away from voice services to value added as will as the expected availability of the much needed bandwidth capacity stakeholders in the industry should collectively address issues relating to making broadband services available to end users.

  


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Danbatta Inaugurates Evaluation Committee for 2020 Research Proposals

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Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman and chief executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has inaugurated a 15-member Evaluation Committee for the assessment of the 2020 Telecommunications based research from Academics in the Nigerian tertiary institutions.

The Committee, chaired by Prof. Mu’azu Bashir, a professor of Computer and Control Engineering and Head of Computer Engineering Department at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was inaugurated at the Commission’s Head Office in Abuja on Wednesday, September 24, 2020.

Speaking during the inauguration, Danbatta said that the initiative speaks to the Commission’s commitment towards encouraging the development of indigenous innovative solutions that impact not only the Telecom industry/ICT sector positively but also the nation as a whole.

“We want to continuously support research projects that can lead to the development of new products and services in the industry as the key enabler of the nation’s digital economy.

“We are all aware of the appreciable contributions of the Nigerian Telecommunication sector to the growth of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) over the years, which peaked at 14.53 per cent in second quarter of 2020,” he said.

Danbatta, stated that the Commission understands that funding Research and Development (R&D) is fundamental to ensuring that the needs of consumers are properly anticipated and met while enabling sustainable economic growth, adding that the Digital Economy-based Research Innovations project underlines the importance of funding R&D.

According to the EVC, for the year 2020, the request for proposals was tailored to providing innovations and solving challenges in five emerging areas of technology.

“These include innovative clean energy technology; 5G deployment in Nigeria; Internet of Things (IoT), low power Wide Area Network (WAN) technology; advanced methods of Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) management and test mechanism as well as monitoring and localisation of drones.

“While emphasising the importance of telecommunication/ICT industry to innovative developments and transformations within the economy, Danbatta tasked members of the Committee to thoroughly evaluate all submissions in order to sieve, identify and select the best from the proposals submitted.

“Members of this Committee have been carefully selected from the Academia, related government institutions and the industry based on their pedigree.

“I have no doubt in my mind that you will carry out the assignment to the highest acceptable standards,” the EVC said.

The Committee is expected to carry out the assignment and submit its report within four (4) weeks from the day of inauguration.

 


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FG Awards Cash Prizes Worth N16.5m to Winners 0f Nigeria @ 60 Challenge

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The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, has awarded prizes worth N16.5million to nine Nigerians who emerged winners of the Nigeria @60 Independence Challenge.

It could be recalled that the Federal Government of Nigeria, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR approved an inclusive National Independence Day Celebration programme with the theme: “Together at 60,” where it called on creative Nigerians to choose brand and come up with elements that will beautify the anniversary.

The Sub-Committee, chaired by Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), minister of Communications and Digital Economy,  launched the challenge Portal on Friday, 4th September, 2020, with the aim of providing opportunity for talented, critical thinking and creative individuals or teams to produce the event slogan, photograph, and a poem.

The Jury, made up of Directors from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), evaluated the submissions based on the relevance to the theme, originality, creativity, impact and mode of presentation.

During the evaluation, a total of 3,258 entries were received, out of which 1,931 Slogan, 638 Poetry, and 689 Photography entries were submitted.

While presenting the Awards and Prizes, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and Chairman of the 60th Independence Celebration Sub-Committee, Dr Pantami said that the competition was meant to create a platform for all Nigerians to participate in the diamond jubilee anniversary.

He said “Federal Government provided this opportunity for Nigerians to choose their brand and harness the power of creative minds to create other elements that will form the brand of the anniversary.

Dr Pantami congratulated the winners and charged those that participated to continue utilising their skills for the betterment of themselves and Nigeria at large, adding that “the nation will be proud of them”.

He said the Diamond Anniversary which is will last till September 30, 2021 is a period for Nigeria to celebrate its unity.

He also commended the jury that worked day and night to ensure fairness during the selection of nine winners from each category of the competition.

Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), while delivering the welcome address, described the process as first of its kind, where citizens are engaged virtually to plan the celebration.

Abdullahi said that COVID-19 pandemic has brought another opportunity for Nigerians to celebrate 60 years anniversary in style.

The Chairman of the Independence Competition Judging Committee, Director, IT Infrastructure Solution, NITDA, Dr Usman Gambo Abdullahi said the competition was meant to tap into the creative and innovative potential of the youths.

The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi- Esan represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Tope Fashedemi  commended the efforts of all participants, describing every Nigerian as a winner.

The outcome of the assessment saw the emergence of the following as second runners up: Sani Ibrahim (Slogan), Samson Mayor Emeka (Photography) and Umoru Patrick Eghiegbai (Poetry); first runners up Yusuf Muhammad Ahmad (Slogan), Leke Adebule and Team (Photography), and Mustapha Dauda Gwary (Poetry). The winners of the challenge are: Nwakuba Ezinne (Slogan), Amao Daniel Oluwadarisimi (Photography) and Kalu Rejoice Chioma (Poetry).

The winners were presented with awards and cash prizes in each category, with the second runners up getting One Million Naira each, first runners up One Million and Five Hundred Thousand Naira each, and the winners, Three Million Naira each, for their creativity and innovative contribution to the Diamond Jubilee Celebration.

The Diamond/Innovation/Change Sub-Committee is made up of Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy as Chairman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Honourable Minister Education and Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Head of Civil Service of the Federation as members, while DG NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, was later co-opted as member.

 


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Ekeh, Zinox Boss, Says Tech Experience Centre Perfect 60th Anniversary Gift to Nigeria

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Leo Stan Ekeh, serial digital entrepreneur has described the Tech Experience Centre, an ambitious technology project that is widely expected to bridge the gap to cutting-edge technology for millions of Nigerians, as the perfect birthday gift to Nigeria as it turns 60.

The revolutionary Tech Experience Centre, the first of its kind in Africa, is set to be formally unveiled on Thursday, October 1st 2020, incidentally the occasion of Nigeria’s 60thIndependence Anniversary.

Equally important, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, minister of Communications and Digital Economy, is expected to commission the auspicious project located within the high-rise Yudala Heights on 13 Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Also expected to attend the launch are stakeholders from the technology sector, corporate egg-heads and other dignitaries.

The event, which is scheduled for 5pm on Thursday, will be streamed live to millions across the world via digital channels.

Ekeh, who has remained in the forefront of digital evangelisation and promoting knowledge democracy in Nigeria and beyond, has expressed excitement with the birthing of the Tech Experience Centre.

The tech guru affirms that the formal unveiling of the Centre on the occasion of Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary makes it a fitting present to the country and to all Nigerians.

‘‘Nigeria’s journey as a sovereign independent nation is one that is filled with so many memorable milestones. Although we still face some peculiar challenges, there is much to be proud of as Nigeria clocks 60.

“In the same vein, the launch of the Tech Experience Centre represents a major milestone in Nigeria’s march to technology independence.

‘‘Indeed, the unveiling of this unprecedented project right here in Nigeria is a powerful statement of intent and a positive development that every Nigerian should be proud of.

“It is, in my opinion, the perfect birthday to Nigeria as we celebrate 60 years of our independence,’’ he said.

Ekeh, who had called on the Federal Government to consider declaring October 1st Nigeria’s technology independence day, restated the landmark strides that Nigeria had recorded in the area of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

The Zinox helmsman affirmed that the multiple collaborations, increased local participation and access to the latest technologies that would become a right of every Nigerian with the establishment of the Tech Experience Centre is a bold step forward in Nigeria’s march to technological emancipation.

‘‘On a number of occasions, I have reiterated that no country achieves true independence without a level of technological independence.

“The set-up of the Tech Experience Centre is one of such bold investments Nigeria requires to confidently stake a claim for relevance as a technology force to be reckoned with, not only in Africa, but on the global stage.

“The current administration also deserves commendation for its greater emphasis on technology – a critical sector that is being championed professionally by the Honourable Minister, Dr. Pantami.’’

In addition, Ekeh heaped praises on the various tech giants that have partnered with TD Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa’s technology, lifestyle and solutions distributor, to bring the idea of the Tech Experience Centre to life.

‘‘We must also not fail to recognize and appreciate the global OEMs that have identified with this project.

“Having renowned tech brands such as Cisco, Microsoft, Dell Technologies, HP, Schneider Electric, Zinox, Philips, Samsung, Apple and Bosch, among others, come together under one roof to build local capacity and place the latest technologies at the fingertips of every Nigerian is a huge development that will come with a number of positive multiplier effects for the country,’’ he concluded.

The Tech Experience Centre will officially open its impressive doors to Nigerians on Thursday, October 1st by 5pm.

For the first time, Nigeria will play host to the latest global technologies including those not normally available in Africa, offering all classes of visitors a first-hand experience of new gadgets, solutions and infrastructure that would have previously required a visit abroad, thereby saving corporate organizations, government establishments and individuals money or scarce foreign exchange expended on these trips.

The Centre will house global technology giants under one roof, with the aim of making cutting-edge technology easily accessible to Nigerians and other nationals at entry costs that make sense.

Experts and economic watchers have hailed the expected launch of the centre as a major development that will shore up Nigeria’s relevance in the global technology space, while also boosting the nation’s economy.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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