Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Portable numbering plan to boost market evolution – Ndukwe

Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, has said that the proposed introduction of portable national numbering apart from enthroning convergence in the polity would boost market evolution.

Speaking at the four-day workshop organised by NCC in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Lagos, Dr. Ndukwe, who was represented at the occasion by the former Communications Minister and NCC commissioner, Chief Olawale Ige, noted that Nigeria as leading country on the continent in terms of mobile communications, has continued to record success, even as Nigeria has surpassed South Africa, having achieved 44 million subscribers against South Africa 40 million.

He described the proposed portable numbering plan as a cornerstone for market evolution and growth.

According to the EVC, introduction of numbering is a critical component towards provision of communications services that would impact on how operators conduct business, and services are rolled out as well as how subscribers would behave in the near future.

Dr. Ndukwe who dwelt on ‘Numbering and Convergence: Cornerstone of Evolving Communications,’ said numbering would allow the nation to efficiently manage this valuable but limited asset, thus impacting on the productivity and competitiveness of the country.

Hence, he looks forward to the national numbering plan adding value by way of promoting economic growth through fair competition.

“Every operator would have equal rights to this national resource,” he said, stressing “No numbers, no services, no business and no competition.”

He emphasised that the proposed number plan would promote service innovation intended to generate more revenue, just as new services would not be restricted to numbering constraints.

He citied an example with the mobile lines and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) numbers would now have common short codes, premium or toll-free numbers, and special services numbers.

Therefore, he expects better subscriber satisfaction and ease of use as an important design goal, maintaining that competition drives better service quality and more new services.

“More usage would translate into more revenue for operators,” he noted, adding that it’s a win-win proposition that would empower subscribers to manage their ‘personal brand’ with freedom to change operators at will.

“It enables fair competition amongst operators and allow innovation to flourish with greater return on investment,” he declared, thereby rewarding creative marketing, service features, pricing models, and high quality with growth in subscriber numbers, and revenue, accompanied by the expected rise in the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).

Convergence, on the other hand, he said, reduces inter-machine trunking traffic with tendency to simplify and efficiently transport long distance and transit traffic.

This, he said, would enable optimisation of offnet traffic and interconnection tariffs as well as subscriber access to voice mail and other application services.

“Convergence delivers enhanced services with Voice over Broadband (VoBB) service at business and residential areas, thus improving in-building mobile coverage,” he said.

There also would be fixed and mobile convergence (FMC), while application innovation using advanced service creation, integrating voice calls, web services, presence, location and group lists among others.

While soliciting the support of all stakeholders in the nation’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), NCC boss said that Nigeria is at a pivotal point of growth, adding that relevant infrastructure needed to be in place to allow for further expansion.

“We need to re-examine our national numbering place … It’s a must for growing economy,” he asserted.

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