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Reducing Operational Cost through Infrastructure Sharing

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Telecommunications service providers in the country have severally be lamenting on high cost of providing service, which they claimed is adversely affecting their ability to deliver quality of service as well as meet up with their social responsibilities.
For instance, compared to other developing economies, operators in the country are faced with multiple taxes by different tiers of government, provision of power as well as transmission infrastructure that are none existence. In most developing countries such as Egypt, South Africa, Ghana among others these challenges are not faced by telecom operators in these countries. But the most common challenge that operators around the world are faced with is duplications of infrastructure, where each operator has to deploy the same infrastructure its older competitor has deployed thereby wasting the resources as against sharing such infrastructure for better performance.
Against this backdrop that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) published a report detailing a set of regulatory strategies designed to lower the costs of telecoms network rollout. The report notes that 2008 has been marked by unparalleled numbers of voice and Internet consumers in both the developing and developed world, the result of which is network growth and expansion.
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This year the report added, has also witnessed an unparalleled global financial crisis which may make it more difficult for investors to obtain financing for continuing network development. Sharing strategies, examined in the new ITU report, are seen as conducive for infrastructure development in the telecommunications/ICT sector, particularly in light of the deepening global financial crisis.
Sami Al Basheer, director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, said that sharing strategies are increasingly necessary to ensure that operators can deploy their networks at low cost while guaranteeing that consumers have access to affordable services. "Now, more than ever, sharing strategies make sense as operators are forced to reduce the costs of network deployment as they compete for scarce investment funds. This is a forward-looking perspective in light of the current financial and economic uncertainty," he said.
Sharing strategies he said include the sharing of civil engineering costs in deploying networks, promoting open access to network support infrastructure (poles, ducts, conduits), essential facilities (submarine cable landing stations and international gateways) as well as access to radio-frequency spectrum and end-user devices.
The "Six Degrees of Sharing" theme was first discussed in Thailand during ITU’s 2008 Global Symposium for Regulators last March. Few observers could then have anticipated the rough ride that would be in store for financial markets a few months down the road.
Yet, the guidelines announced in March seem almost prophetic in today’s circumstances. Taking a broad and innovative view of sharing, the world’s regulators sought to capture the productivity of global networks and use it to expand the scope of opportunities for service and content providers and, ultimately, consumers.
Developing countries embraced sharing to make more affordable the expansion of ICT networks to rural and under-served areas. Many developed countries are looking at sharing to reduce the cost of rolling out ultra high-speed broadband networks that reach customers’ homes and apartment buildings.
"Sound business and regulatory practices will contribute to extracting the greatest possible value from existing levels of investment in the telecommunication and ICT sectors. ITU is committed to working with member States and to assist regulators in marshalling the regulatory expertise they need to navigate these rough seas," said Al Basheer.
The booming volume of digital bits generated by the move to convergence and packet-switching has produced a need for increased network capacity. Regulators have a responsibility to create and maintain an environment in which operators and service providers can maximize network capacity and efficiency by fostering capital investment and market expansion as the sector continues to evolve.
The report highlighted that mobile penetration showed high growth rates through 2008. It noted that by year end, mobile networks and subscribers will rise to an all time high, reaching an estimated 4 billion mobile subscribers worldwide. The world it said also counts over 1.5 billion Internet users, a growing number of which use fixed and mobile broadband services. Dial-up is being replaced by broadband across developed and developing countries alike. ITU noted that in developing countries such as Chile, Senegal and Turkey, broadband subscribers represent over 90 per cent of all Internet subscribers.
A growing array of broadband wireless systems are now available, opening the way for users in developing countries to access the Internet on mobile phones and other handheld devices. At the same time, more developing countries are deploying national fibre backbones and backhaul networks to transport their growing data-rich traffic. In addition, several new international submarine cable networks are set to connect developing countries to the global network of Internet backbones – just as a group of high-tech entrepreneurs are working to revive plans for a constellation of broadband satellites to connect the developing world. The Trends report catalogues efforts by governments, and in particular ICT regulators, operators and service providers to expand the reach of affordable broadband services and meeting universal access goals.
How to grow the sector
What had been foreseen as ideal strategies to extend broadband network access in developing markets may now be viewed as a prescription for the entire world. If the sources of capital for network investment suffer a temporary drought, policy-makers could take steps to make their markets more amenable to the shrinking pool of investment, such as lower investment barriers that inhibit capital flows from one country to another.
Reduce of regulatory barriers (high licence fees or market-entry bans) that represent hostile environments for capital investment and market growth.
Share essential facilities, such as cable landing stations, local switching centres or fibre backbone networks.
Adopt rules to provide for infrastructure sharing, particularly "passive" sharing of towers, ducts, rights-of-way and other support facilities.
Overhaul and streamline cross-agency processes to create a ‘one-stop shop’ for various network-related authorizations, such as land management, port access, environmental and safety permits.
Add innovative spectrum management mechanisms that promote increased sharing and efficient use of spectrum.
Amend regulatory frameworks to eliminate discriminatory rules that favour one company or industry over another in a converged services market
Ensure that government policies and rules maximize the ability of incumbents and market entrants to choose between different opportunities for business plans and long-term strategies, including resale, wholesale, and niche markets.
Most of these initiatives are beginning to take root in the country’s telecommunications space, before now, idea of co-location of infrastructure was strongly opposed by operators who were fighting over subscribers, but, when the cost of providing service kept rising as well as intervention by Nigerian Communications Commission that began enlightenment of operators on the need to co-locate that they started adopting the option. Today, there are over 1000 co-located sites in the industry.
This also provided opportunity for investment as some investors have begun to build and operate cellular site for operators to co-locate. Notable among them are Infrastructure Hi-Tech Services (IHS), Hilios Towers, among others.
Mr. Gbenga Onakomaiya, chief commercial officer, IHS, said that the idea of building and managing of sites for mobile operators is to take off the problems being faced by operators in managing sites such as youth restiveness, generator theft and taxes.
He explained that an operator in the country spends average of $6,000 per month to maintain a site, but with co-location option such operator spends $2,000 per month. This according to him is cost effective as well as big relief for them. “Initially, everybody wanted to provide services by themselves but now they are seeing the economic sense as sites are growing, and maintenance is becoming big financial burden. They need to focus their attention to their core business of running the network,” he said.
Although NCC has been advocating for sharing of infrastructure as a faster way of expanding network roll out especially in underserved areas, and has expressed it readiness to monitor the implementation of the option by operator by next year. This ITU report is seen as a desired encouragement to some operators whose parent company may not be favourably disposed to it.
Industry watchers who spoke to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek expressed worry over implementation of sharing of infrastructure. They argued that as operators are encourage by every means to share infrastructure, measures should be put in place to address vandalisation which is likely to have adverse effect on service delivery. They explained that if a shared infrastructure is vandalised, it will affect all the networks sharing that infrastructure.

 


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NDPR to Safeguard Personal Data of Nigerians -DG NITDA

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Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has disclosed that the motive behind the issuance of Nigerian Data Protection Regulations, (NDPR) by the Agency was to safeguard the right of natural persons to data privacy, fostering safe conduct for transactions involving the exchange of personal data, enablement of Nigerian businesses to be globally compliant and competitive and to create jobs for Nigerians.

 

Mallam Abdullahi revealed this Friday while delivering the keynote address  at the 6th annual conference of Institute Internal Auditors of Nigeria, (IIAN) with the theme:, “Agility and Resilience” which was held on zoom conference platform.

 

The Conference aimed at preparing participants across Internal Audits, Internal Controls, risk management, revenue and Government assurance and other business professionals to learn how to leverage on new technologies and procedures towards actualisation of the organisation’s goals and objectives.

 

The NITDA DG who was represented Director e-Government Development and Regulations, Dr Vincent Olatunji stated that since inception of the Agency in 2001, it has been playing a catalytic roles to spur the infusion of technology into nation’s work processes reiterating that the Agency plays “critical roles in capacity development, provision of working tools for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

 

“NITDA also has an existing arrangement with the office of the Auditor General of the Federation to aid the office in the discharge of its activities.”

 

Mallam Abdullahi said, “The Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) was issued on 25th January, 2020 by my predecessor, DrIsa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

 

“As part of his think-tank then, our thinking was that Nigeria needed to quickly provide a regulatory framework for the processing of personal data.

 

“This was even more pertinent in consideration of the global implications of non-performance.

 

“Businesses where losing bids because investors felt there was no data privacy regime in Nigeria.

 

“The Agency’s implementation of the NDPR has been innovative and impact oriented. For the first time in data protection implementation, auditors became recognised as Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCO)”.

 

He maintained that NITDA has 72 licensed DPCOs among which are members of this “august body,” adding that “this posture is not as a result of lack of professionals in the IT industry, rather, we have made conscious efforts to carry every relevant stakeholder along in our developmental regulatory strategy.

 

“ I hope this noble institute would repay NITDA’s generosity by imbibing ethical and professional principles on your members for better implementation of the Regulation.”

 

Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, New Capital Cooperatives Society Mr. Benedict Anyalenka while commending the organisers of the conference affirmed that data privacy and protection should be a requisite skill needed for development of the Information Technology Sector as it would create platform for protection of information against unauthorized usage.

 

Anyalenka, however, called for proper awareness on the importance of data privacy among organisations and stakeholders across the country to safeguard citizens’ data.


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FG Reveals Plans to Deploy Technology in the Health Sector

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As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government of Nigeria has announced plans to deploy information and communications technology (ICT) in the country’s health sector.

This is part of the plans to achieve transparency and accountability in health care delivery across the country.

Dr. Ngozi R. C. Azodoh, director, Special Projects, Federal Ministry of Health, who represented Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire, Honourable Minister of Health, revealed this while speaking at MTN Nigeria’s Revv Programme masterclass on Thursday, September 17, 2020 .

The virtual session themed ‘Bridging the healthcare divide through technology and partnerships’ had in attendance health sector experts including Chief Executive Officer, Hygeia HMO Limited, Obinnia Abajue; Chief Operations Officer and Co-Founder, Afya Care, Kola Oni; Managing Director, Ingress Health Partners, Dr. Orode Doherty and Chief Executive Officer, Tremendoc Limited, Ugochukwu Chikezie. The session was moderated by the General Manager, Business Development, MTN Nigeria, Omotayo Ojulatayo.

According to Azodoh, the federal government has put structures in place to utilise ICT as part of efforts to standardise the healthcare system.

“The government is working hand in hand with state governments across the country to maintain transparency and accountability, adding that ICT and other forms of electronic platforms are currently being improved and expanded following the federal government’s COVID intervention”.

She also shared that the ministry is willing to support small businesses in the sector imploring the participating SMEs to seize the opportunities provided by The Revv Programme.

“I want to ask everyone who is listening to write to the MTN Revv team and say this is one thing I want the Federal Ministry of Health to do to help my business then we can engage on how to proceed,” she enthused.

In her parting remarks, she also commended MTN Nigeria for providing a platform for SMEs to expand their capacity. “I must commend MTN for this excellent initiative. It has been very productive for me and an opportunity to transfer knowledge.”

The Revv Programme is an initiative from MTN Nigeria to help small businesses rethink and retool their operations in order to withstand the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic using a four-pronged approach that includes masterclasses, access to market, productivity tools support and advisory initiatives.


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Peace House Charity Foundation Seeks for DCTC Intervention

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Mallam Kashifu InuwaAbdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), asserted that if we do not empower our people, they become a problem to the society in future.

 

He made this know on Friday while receiving a delegation from Peace House Charity Foundation,Yola who were at the Agency’s Corporate Headquarter, Abuja to seek for interventions in the areas of ICT.

 

The representative of the Director General, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, Director eGovernment Development and Regulation stated that one of the mandate of the Agency is the deployment of ICT infrastructure as such the Foundation’s visit at this time is very apt as the Agency is relentlessly working on the implementation of the Digital Economy strategy.

 

MallamAbdullahi affirmed that Agency at the moment is looking for organisations to partner with to sustain Digital Capacity Training Centres deployed across the country.

 

He commended the effort of the organisation in assisting orphans with not only providing basic education but also the provision of skills, mentorship and moral upbringing.

 

Speaking earlier, Mr Mohammad Bello, a Director with the Foundation said that the organisation was at the Agency to seek for ICT intervention and to commend NITDA’s effort in promoting ICT knowledge across the nation.

 

He stated that the organisation supports education for the orphans and the less privileged,  promote health care delivery especially among women and children, provide sensitisation workshop for parents (mothers) on parenting and matrimonial home, promote unity and encourage self-reliance among the populace.

 

 

 

 

 


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