In a report published last year by Internet World Statistics, there are 11 million internet users in the country, a figure that is low compared to a country with 150 million people. This situation explains why Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has embarked on different regulatory framework as well as initiatives aimed at increasing internet access in the country. Such regulatory framework includes relaxed regulations of internet service delivery, which the commission said is an approach adopted deliberately to ensure that operators in the sector roll out internet service that would help in increasing access to Nigerians no matter where they live. The commission had also initiated such projects as Wire Nigeria project as well as State Accelerated Broadband project which has taken off in some northern states of the federal. All these are efforts by the commission to ensure that internet access is available to all Nigerians and cost effective also with good speed.
Telecommunications experts that spoke to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek are of the view that the best means of delivery high speed internet service is through terrestrial infrastructure such as copper and fibre optic. They decried the peculiarity of Nigeria situation where there is no national fibre optic backbone network required to deliver broadband internet service thereby forcing operators in the industry to use wireless technology, satellite among others.
Lanre Ajayi, president, Nigeria Internet Group, argued that Nigeria cannot wait till the required fibre optic or copper infrastructure is available before people can use internet, which makes the use of some mobile internet applications relevant in the effort to make internet accessible to the people.
As technology evolves it improves efficiency as well as capability to deliver value added services. This is the case of mobile telecommunications technologies, which has continued to advance to deliver internet service at a good speed.
For instance, GSM technology has advanced from two generation that hardly deliver internet to 3G network that delivers mobile broadband to users, same is the case of code division multiple access (CDMA) from TDMA to 2000 1x and EV-DO Rev A which deliver mobile broadband internet access as well as voice from the same platform.
According to recent findings by Dataxis Intelligence, Mobile broadband subscribers in Africa – users of data cards and USB dongles through cellular 3G networks- reached 3.3 million in September 2009 and are expected to break the 4 million milestone in the first quarter of 2010.
In the same time fixed broadband subscribers that stood at 3.4 million in September 2009 are forecasted to be around 3.8 million by March 2010, thereby being outpaced by 3G internet usage.
In fact, according to Dataxis, mobile broadband adoption grows 2 times faster than fixed broadband with an average net adds of over 400,000 new subscribers on a quarterly basis. This euphoria is mainly due to the flexibility of the service with both prepaid and postpaid offerings marketed by operators as well as its user-friendly aspects -mobility, top-up to name a few.
A simple explanation for Mobile Broadband is that it’s like having your fixed home broadband experience delivered to your mobile device. Mobile Broadband rivals the performance of fixed broadband technologies and is suitable for a broad range of data applications including accessing email with attachments, web browsing, multimedia streaming and file downloads while stationary or on the go.
The last 18 months have seen a huge upswing in the adoption of mobile broadband globally, especially relating to PC connectivity through 3G USB “dongles”, as well as high-end smartphones like the Apple iPhone™. For the mobile industry, Mobile Broadband has been one of the few bright spots, especially in mature markets where the recession (and regulation) has impacted voice and SMS revenues. For many operators, PC-based data revenues have eclipsed lacklustre growth of content and data services on handsets. There are several technologies competing to deliver commercial Mobile Broadband services. By far the most successful is HSPA, which has been commercially deployed by over 250 operators in more than 100 countries.
By 2010, when the number of wireless broadband connections is estimated to reach more than 600 million, HSPA will be the technology behind over 70 percent of Mobile Broadband connections. HSPA is a state-of-the art technology that provides mobile and wireless broadband services for the vast majority of the market, with unsurpassed performance and economies of scale. HSPA is the set of technologies that defines the migration path for 3G/WCDMA operators worldwide.
The arrival of Mobile Broadband has prompted PC notebook manufacturers to embed cellular modems into their products, as they have done with Bluetooth®. Previous 2G and 2.5G mobile technologies were simply not fast or efficient enough to justify being embedded into notebooks. The GSMA designed the Mobile Broadband Enabled Service Mark to simplify customer communication by quickly and easily conveying to consumers that their devices are Mobile Broadband Enabled.
To date, over 1,600 HSPA devices have been launched globally. These devices initially included conventional mobile phones, PC Cards and Express Cards and USB ‘dongles’. As device vendors have embraced the technology further we now feature a range of embedded notebooks and consumer electronics.
Mobile Broadband enabled devices are now proliferating the market, supporting a vast range of consumer and industry applications. These devices are being used to deliver solutions to people and industry in metropolitan and rural areas to a range of sectors including consumer electronics, clean technology, health care, transportation and utilities. The GSMA Embedded Mobile initiative is a GSMA market-development programme designed to accelerate the adoption of wireless connectivity across these sectors.
In order for operators to deliver the Mobile Broadband connectivity that delivers feature rich applications to consumers and industry it is crucial that they can innovate in a defined and stable environment, confident in the security of spectrum allocations. The GSMA actively lobbies governments to fairly allocate spectrum to operators – including spectrum that has been freed up by the Digital Dividend.
The association has said that mobile operators around the world will invest up to $72 billion in Mobile Broadband technologies in 2010.
The new operator Capex investment data, compiled by global investment firm Deutsche Bank, reflects the continued consumer and enterprise demand for Mobile Broadband services and the need for underlying infrastructure, and comes as global HSPA connections reach the 200 million milestone.
Asia Pacific will see the greatest investment in Mobile Broadband with predicted capital expenditure of up to $34 billion. North America follows with up to $19 billion, with Europe expected to invest up to $14 billion. Mobile Broadband is set to account for 52 per cent of all operator investment in mobile infrastructure globally. Of all the regions, North America will spend the greatest percentage – 80 per cent – of its total mobile Capex investment on Mobile Broadband.
"The forecasted investment in Mobile Broadband technologies reflects the importance the mobile industry places on enabling consumers to access any type of content on the move whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. HSPA and HSPA+ have become the dominant global Mobile Broadband technologies and are set to benefit from a significant proportion of this CAPEX investment, resulting in faster and more reliable Mobile Broadband services being available to more subscribers around the world by the end of this year," said Michael O’Hara, chief Marketing Officer at the GSMA.
HSPA connections have seen phenomenal growth in all markets since 2007, and this is set to continue in 2010 with the investment operators will make in Mobile Broadband technology. According to industry research firm Wireless Intelligence, the growth of HSPA is predicted to increase from an average of around nine million connections per month as of the end of 2009, to almost 13 million per month. Of the total estimated 342 million connections at the end of 2010, Europe will lead the way with 120 million connections, becoming the number one region for HSPA connections, with Asia Pacific accounting for 116 million and North America 58 million.
Operators around the world are pledging investment for continued HSPA and HSPA+ network upgrades to optimise available data speeds and maximise network capacity.
There are currently 200 million HSPA connections worldwide, with more than 1,800 HSPA enabled devices available from more than 150 suppliers. Across 123 countries, there are currently 294 commercially live networks, of which 183 currently deliver peak data rates of above 3.6 Mbps, and 37 commercially live HSPA+ networks, each capable of delivering data speeds up to 21 Mbps.
As operators in Europe where there are terrestrial infrastructure channeling investment into provision of mobile broadband, telecommunications operators in the country are Africa should as well consider making similar investment especially as there are no national fibre optic or copper cable that connects offices and houses to superhighway.
Such an investment will be a worthwhile as there will always be demand when the speed is high.
NCC @ ICTEL EXPO, Pledges Robust ICT Infrastructure for Economic Growth
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has said that the Commission will continue to promote and facilitate expansion of robust broadband/Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure across the country for the rapid development of the nation’s digital economy.
Danbatta gave the assurance in a presentation titled “Communication Technology for Service Delivery in Health, Education, Tourism, the Creative Industry and Agriculture” delivered during the first virtual and sixth edition of Information Communications Technology and Telecommunications Conference and Exhibition (ICTEL) EXPO 2020.
He said the Commission, not only successfully achieved but surpassed the 30 per cent broadband penetration target in 2018.
Danabatta observed that through various policy initiatives, broadband penetration has further increased to 42.02 per cent as of July, 2020, noting that this has laid a solid foundation to drive the national efforts at achieving the new 70 per cent broadband penetration target set in the Nigeria National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025.
Represented by Efosa Idehen, director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, Danbatta said in line with this commitment, the Commission has commenced the review of the framework for engaging infrastructure companies to cascade fibre optic deployment to the hinterlands of Nigeria to ensure pervasive access to broadband services in the country.
He stated that with the support of the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, NCC is resolving the perennial problem of high cost of Right of Way (RoW) with the support of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) to hasten ICT infrastructure that will enable socio-economic activities across various sectors.
According to him, as the world is becoming increasingly digitised; there will be no sector or facet of human life where ICT will not be required for optimal service delivery and improved conditions of living for the citizens.
With regard to the health sector, Danbatta said ICT is playing a very important role in the manner health services are now delivered, adding that the new Internet speed and low latency of 5G technology are expected to further enhance the possibilities of telemedicine and remote surgery.
Similarly, the EVC said the educational sector has also greatly soared on the wings of ICT, as there has been a surge in online learning in many institutions around the globe due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic, while illustrating the symbiotic relationship between ICT and educational sectors.
Danbatta said “the relationship between ICT and the educational sector has been mutually beneficial. He assured the stakeholders that the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to enhance the capabilities of the educational sector even further.”
According to him, the agricultural sector has also benefitted from ICT, as several agro-based apps have been designed to ensure that stakeholders in the sector are able to provide and improve on essential agro-services.
These developments have helped to boost food production and security, just as a lot of digitisation is also holding sway in the creative industry, enhancing its growth thereby enabling job creation and greater contribution to the Gross Domestic product (GDP).
NDPR to Safeguard Personal Data of Nigerians -DG NITDA
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.
FG Reveals Plans to Deploy Technology in the Health Sector
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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