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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Waiting for NBC, NCC merger

Features of the week:

As the nation warms up for end of another democratic dispensation come May 29, one thing stakeholders have been waiting for is the merging of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), reports REMMY NWEKE.

Preamble:
ON Tuesday, August 29, 2006, the federal government inaugurated a task force charged with the responsibility of developing a blueprint to restructure the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in the country.

The task force went into action and came up with sub-committees, consisting of those charged with the terms of reference of identifying areas of modern innovations in the sector, that “enjoy common mode of operation with a view to ascertaining and stating the implications and viability of establishing a common regulatory regime for such mode of operation.”

Members of this task force were drawn from the Computer Professionals (Registration Council) of Nigeria (CPN), Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) and Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) as well as the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) among others; from where the sub-committees emerged.

Investigations by our correspondent based on the final report made to the government was for the creation of new ICT Ministry, although the committee was yet to submit its final report before the recent restructuring of ministries was announced, leading to the merging of the Information and Communications ministries into one in the last quarter of 2006.

Speaking on this, stakeholders noted that although the government has taken a step, but that was not their expectation as there is a clear-cut line between the dissemination of government information and communications as a distinct structures, just as it is different from Information and Communication Technologies.

And for this to be actualised, the implementation structures such as NCC and NBC, required to be seen as one to avoid duplication of ideas and regulations.

Currently, while NBC is in charge of broadcasting licenses in the country, NCC is in charge of telecommunications, which nowadays has transcended mere provision of voice telephone lines by incorporating transmission of data and voice through online broadcasting, also known as pod casting via the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) among others.

Stakeholders endorse plan to merge NBC, NCC
Hence, it was not out of place when the umbrella body of core Information Technology (IT) groups known as NCS, during its 2006 awards’ nite in December, expressed support for ICT and called for merging of NBC and NCC, as well as support for convergence regime.

What the nation needs now is an ICT ministry borne out of convergence, according to the NCS president, Dr. Chris Nwannenna, who expressed the support of the group for the on-going reforms of the present administration, adding that the recent restructuring of the Ministries of Information and Communications does not augur well for the nation without the merger of these two government agencies.

He pointed out that NCS believes strongly that the answer to the nation’s aspirations for ICT development would be actualized through the ICT ministry.

He said that the new ministry as proposed should comprise NCC, NBC and NITDA, insisting that NCS is still “of the view that an ICT ministry would be the best for the country.” Just as he lamented the inability of the government to wait for the final report of the task force inaugurated last August before announcing the restructuring in the ministries of Information and Communications.

Dr. Nwannenna, who also is the chief executive of Condata Systems Limited, told our correspondent, that though the details of the current restructuring has not be made available to the public, he does not believe that the task force report was taken into consideration in making the decision, even as he maintained that convergence is the way to go now.

NIG, ALTON drum support
Other industry organizations drumming up support for NBC, NCC merger include the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) and Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) to mention a few.

They described the proposal as a welcome development and timely so as to boost the ICT sector as well as place the nation among its contemporaries of ICT evolving countries.

Commenting on this, ALTON chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, told Champion Infotel that his group endorses the plan as long as it is properly done and devoid of unnecessary politicking.

“We have seen what the NCC has done and the future of broadcasting and communication has become one in our environment and it is good to work ahead,” he asserted, insisting that practically if it is properly done, there is no doubt that ALTON would definitely support it.

For NIG president, Mr. Lanre Ajayi, who expressed optimism that other stakeholders would idealistically support the initiative to merge NBC and NCC, said, he believes that almost everybody would be disposed to the convergence of these institutions.

He pointed out that any thing contrary to the merger would see the two institutions functions over-lapping.

“Don’t forget you can now watch TV on the Internet and listen to radio also on the Internet,” he declared, stressing that it is simply logical that NBC and NCC should merge for a better developmental result.

NIG also insisted on the merger of NBC and NCC, saying that convergence of the Information and Telecommunications Technologies is real.

It also said that in the recommended merger, NCC, as a name should be retained, stressing that communications embraces both telecoms and broadcasting.

In addition NIG which was founded in 1995, called for the merger of relevant ministries into the ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) being agitated by NCS.

“It’s now possible to use a mobile phone to listen to radio, use as a phone to browse the Internet and watch television,” Mr. Ajayi explained.

The group in a position paper made available to our correspondent on the restructuring of the telecommunications, broadcasting and Information Technology (IT) industries, noted that nowadays, with video and audio streaming over the Internet, “every one and anyone can be a broadcaster to a global audience.”

NIG stressed that if the technologies are converging, it’s just “natural that related institutions should converge,” hence it recommended that all the ICT related institutions converge under the same ministry which they suggested the name of ‘ICT ministry.’

Nweke’s optimism
During his first official visit to telecommunications operators in Lagos recently since assuming office as the Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr, expressed optimism that the merger would soon come to fruition and the federal government’s determination to move the industry forward would ensure that NBC and NCC become one organ.

He disclosed that the federal government is gearing up towards actualization of this dream due to convergence, although he was not specific on the date as at when the merger would be concluded, yet industry watchers had predicted that this would be before May 29, when the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo is expected to handover power.

Adducing reasons for government’s plan while on a visit to Mike Adenuga Towers (MAT), Victoria Island, Lagos, Mr. Nweke Jnr, said the merging of NBC and NCC into an entity has become necessary following the similarity of concept and convergence of ICT.

In addition, he said the proposal would further strengthen the adaptation of technologies by Nigerians.

Equally, the Director, Information Technology (IT) unit at the newly restructured ministry of Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, while lauding the step by the federal government, said in Lagos, recently, that the emergence of the ministry is a political move, which is still in the papers as no actual implementation has taken place structurally.

She believes that the NBC and NCC merger has become imperative, even as computation of government process, would help stem corruption in the land and precisely in the public service sector and as matter of fact, it’s facing stiff opposition.

Anticipations
As being anticipated, the only thing left for this Obasanjo administration in the country is to correct itself in the understanding of what is ICT and Information and Communications aspect of the government.

This step would begin with the merger of NBC and NCC, followed by the redefining of the new agency roles, bearing in mind that there is a great difference between the evolution called ICT and government propaganda machineries known as ‘information’ ministry.

Although every tide seems to favour the NCC as the agency to absorb NBC, this, industry watchers, believe is based on the level of development NCC has brought to the lives of the ordinary citizens through its programmes and policies, even as this is expected to increase with the merger, especially on the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

So, the earlier we realize this fact, the better for proper structuring of the government agencies and growth of the country technologically.


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Co-location is good, but ... ALTON

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has said that it is not against any concept that could lead to co-location of infrastructure among players, but this must be structured to be viable.

ALTON is the umbrella body of telecom operators in the country with over 28 active members out of the over 40 operators currently existing nationwide.

Disclosing this at the end of its meeting in Lagos, recently, ALTON said that it is not against the co-location idea being suggested by some stakeholders and precisely by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).

ALTON speaking through its chairman, Mr Gbenga Adebayo, said that the group is fully in support of the plan, but that it must adhere to technological feasibility and commercially viability.

“We reiterate our belief in co-location, but not via a commercially unviable and technologically unfeasible process,” he noted.

Mr. Adebayo also said that ALTON welcomes constructive dialogue, engagement and consultation with all stakeholders and request for an immediate cessation of the destruction and demolition of network infrastructure by government agencies.

ALTON equally called for a review and eventual abolition of illegal, arbitrary and punitive taxes and levies for network infrastructure and operation in the FCT and other states of the federation.

“We call for an industry driven co-location process supervised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC),” he said.

ALTON chairman further said that the group plans to organize stakeholders’ workshops, where it plans to breakdown some pertinent industry issues and proffer solutions.

In addition, ALTON decried that no handset is currently being manufactured in the country despite the exceptional growth recorded in the last six years of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM).

“Handsets are not made here, exchange equipment are not made here, even the fibre optic cables are not made here, and the more we have this kind of difficulties in our operating environment, the more foreign investors will be scared away from coming to invest, even on those value added services or those other services that are required to grow telecom networks,” he said.

Mr. Adebayo urged Nigerians to see operators as drivers of the economy, adding that ALTON is trying all means possible to enlighten the government and populace on what its members are facing.

“We regard ourselves as the driver of the economy, as prime movers of the economy,” he said.

He pointed out that though everybody has the right to complain about the quality of service, but this is part of the challenges operators are going through on daily basis.

“Quality of service certainly is also a challenge to us as operators, but we’re also challenged by the fact that there are no adequate infrastructure in existence,” he said.

He lamented that, operators most of the time run their businesses on private generating sets rather than the public power supply, which has remained epileptic.

“Electricity supply is still a problem. Practically, we have to run cell sites and remote situations on generators on 24/ 7 basis,” he said.

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ITU, TSF strengthen emergency telecom

Given the high profile disasters that took place during the Tsunami episode alongside earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, floods, landslides, forest fires as well as a spate of disasters in recent time, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Telecoms Sans Frontiers (TSF) have entered into partnership to strengthen availability of emergency telecommunications services.

This follows a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed last weekend between ITU and TSF in Egypt by the Secretary General of ITU, Dr. Hamadoun Toure and TSF President, Mr. Jean-Francois Cazenave.

The MoU, according to the Chief, Media Relations and Public Information at ITU, Mr. Sanjay Acharya, would open the door to greater coordination of efforts in this area, adding that the meeting which took place at Alexandria, Egypt, between April 14 and 17, 2007 was an assemblage of about 400 participants including senior government and telecommunication regulatory officials, United Nations agencies, NGOs, academics and the private sector.

He also said that the legacy of lost and broken lives, economic upheaval and sheer devastation has imposed long-lasting impediments to sustainable development and global efforts at poverty reduction, emphasizing that the poor, especially those living in remote and isolated areas, are the most vulnerable and disaster-prone, and international attention has inevitably focused on least developed countries and small island developing states.

“Access to information and communication facilities is essential for providing vital early-warning information as well as quick response for humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation in the aftermath of disasters,” he said, just as the partnership was aimed at strengthening international cooperation in the use of information and communication technology for disaster mitigation.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Dr. Toure lauded TSF, saying the group is doing excellent work in the field of providing assistance to disaster zones and ITU looks forward to the potential impact of the collaboration.

“TSF has demonstrated how telecommunications can be used to strengthen emergency response efforts and save lives,” he said.

Also speaking the founding President of TSF, Mr. Cazenave, said his organization is very proud to collaborate with ITU.

“We sincerely hope that this will encourage telecommunications operators to recognize the potential of their products and services to save lives. We welcome them to join us in this common cause,” he said, stressing that disaster has spelt havoc around the world, profoundly impacting its victims, their environment and livelihoods.

The conference was organized by ITU in collaboration with the League of Arab States; the Arab Ministerial Council of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), Health and Environment; World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE), and the Arab Academy for Science & Technology & Maritime Transport. The conference was inaugurated by the Minister of Social Solidarity of Egypt, Dr Ali Al-Moselhi.

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Ugly midnight SMS resurfaces

Market Intelligence:

In the last two weeks, Nigerian telecommunications subscribers have been complaining of resurfacing of the Short Messaging Services (SMS) from telecom operators at midnights.

These SMS basically beseech subscribers to migrate from one platform to another.

This element has become disturbing that some of the subscribers have begun to ask “if there is anything wrong with the operating company or if migration is by force.”

For instance, Mr. Onyechi, a Lagos resident complained of receiving series of SMS’ from Celtel numbering over 13, between the night of April 12 and the morning of April 13.

Mr. Onyechi pointed out that his headaches, is not that the SMS are being sent, but at the time of the day when they were sent, which he described as “odd hours” when people are either gearing up to have their night rest or already in bed.

And for those who usually leave their mobile phones on in the event of any incident or emergency, so that they could be reached at ease; this phenomenon has become disturbing, just as this midnight SMS has not stopped the operating companies, especially Celtel Nigeria, from repeating the same message during the day time.

Investigations by Champion Infotel, showed that on April 12, by 11:40pm, Mr. Onyechi received an SMS urging him to save upto 51 per cent on migration to one of the unity tariff structures.

It read, “Save up to 51 per cent on simply special. Dial *141*701# to migrate. Charge N100.”

Our investigations also revealed that by 1:21am another SMS arrived at Mr. Onyechi’s mobile phone with the same message and by 3:01am, another SMS yet arrived.

Not yet done, at 4.42am, he got another SMS on the same migration request, so was 6:22am, 8:03am, and 9:59am as well as 11:24am to mention a few.

The disturbing part of this whole exercise has been that even the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had earlier warned operators on this, following complaints from subscribers at one of the Telecom Parliament sessions in Lagos.

And as it were, the operators seem to have gone on short break and then resumed this absurd again.

However, industry analysts informed that it would have happened out of automated system that has been programmed to deliver messages at a given intervals.

But the question, some subscribers are ardently asking “is there no way this telcos could curtail this midnight SMS, of which would entail thorough management?”

On the other hand, NCC through its Consumer Affairs Bureau has to really wake up by having a dialogue with operators, mostly Celtel in this regard to save Nigerians on its network from swollen eyes as they continue to interrupt subscriber’s night rest.

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Teledom redeems pledge to DASH PC, Akinsanya

IN redeeming its promise of supporting the three whiz kids honoured at the recently held Titans of Tech nite in Lagos, the broadband telecom wireless solution provider, Teledom International Group, has presented the cash prize of N150,000 to the trio.

It would be recalled that the Titans of Tech nite, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Teledom Group International, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, promised to support the two youngsters; Davidson Oseremen, 10 and Rilwanu Shittu, 11, who assembled Personal Computer (PC) under the name of Dash Computers as well as a 13-year-old principal of Asia-American Computer College, Lagos, Ms Mary Akinsanya.

Equally notable was that the youngest CEOs of DASH Computers and Ms Akinsanya emerged winners of the Revelations of the year at the event respectively.

Speaking at the presentation ceremony at its corporate headquarters in Lagos, Dr. Ekuwem, said that it is in fulfillment of the company’s corporate social responsibility to support growing of talents in the country especially in the areas of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

He also said that it is significant because his firm has decided to use two cheque leaves; one belonging to Zenith Bank Plc and ETB Plc in appreciation of these banks’ support to the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Nigeria.

According to him, Zenith Bank has continued to support the industry in the areas of ensuring that Internet penetration improves, noting that its chief executive, Chief Jim Ovia, was the former President of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG).

On the other hand, Dr. Ekuwem said that Globacom Limited which has ETB Plc as one of its subsidiaries, has greatly contributed to the economy by way of developing telecommunications infrastructure and growing the industry, which in the bigger sense brought about some unimaginable revolution in the industry.

He said that his company is supporting the three youngsters to enable them to grow and sustain their interests in the sciences and issued them with Zenith and ETB cheques in that order.

Dr. Ekuwem also commended the parents of the youngsters, saying that they have done well in bringing up these children and urged them to continue in that spirit, even as he counseled the teachers at Doregos Private Academy, where the Oseremen and Shittu were discovered, saying that their reward have started manifesting.

“As these boys go places, be sure that your names would not be forgotten as those who guarded them through,” he said.

The cheques of N100,000 and N50,000 were later presented to DASH team and Ms Akinsanya by the Head, Corporate Affairs at Teledom Group, Ms Uche Madubuike, who was accompanied by the Legal Adviser to Teledom Group, Mr. Ukeme Ekpongong.

Responding, the youngsters expressed thanks to Teledom Group for living up to its promise, as they assured that they would not disappoint.

Equally speaking, President, Joint Action Committee on ICT Awareness and Development (JACITAD), Mr. Sola Fanawapo, commended Teledom for redeeming its promise made barely two weeks after.

He called on other ICT companies in the country to take a queue from Teledom Group by supporting the youngsters, saying that ICT is the future and must be protected and invested upon.

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Oki, Gific to honour top resellers, unveil new products

COUNTRY distributor of OKI Printing Solutions, Gific Limited has concluded plans to honour its resellers nationwide who contributed in scaling up its market share, just as OKI unveiled latest range of printers in the market.

Managing Director, Gific Limited, Mrs. Ngozi Ukachukwu, who disclosed this at the unveiling of latest range of printers in the market, said that her company has all it takes to grow the OKI market share in the country.

She also said that Gific has plans to recognize its resellers nationwide who excelled by contributing outstandingly on entrenching the OKI products.

Mrs. Ukachukwu also said that personally, she used OKI printer solution and has found them satisfactory, stressing that the new printer series from OKI including ML 1120, ML 1190, C8600 and B2500 are expected to offer more optimal services.

She equally said that the highest market record by any of its resellers would be honoured, even as Gific has presence in all the six geo-political zones of the country including Abuja, in order to be nearer to the customers.

According to her, OKI printers was very useful to the political parties and their aspirants during the April general elections in the country, as the brand was used in what she described as hit-business, which has to do with basically produacing T-shirts and fez caps among other mass printing needs.

The unveiling, which was conducted by the Personal Assistant (PA) to the MD, Mrs. Joyce Igbine, also endorsed OKI brand of printers and asked Nigerians to embrace the product, because it is economical and cost effective.

Country manager, OKI Printing Solutions, Mr. Emmanuel Emenike, said that the brand has come a long way in providing fast, high quality printing with built-in simplicity and reliability.

“We believe that effective printed communications are fundamental to successful businesses,” he said, stressing that was the reason OKI focuses purely on understanding the diverse printing requirements.

He pointed out that through considerable technological resources affords OKI to develop fast, high quality, cost effective printing solutions that benefit businesses today and even long into the future.

He emphasized that it was the same spirit that overwhelmed Kibataro Oki to found Oki Electronic in 1881, which has since transformed into a global company.

Introducing the new printers, Technical Expert from OKI Europe, Mr. Martin Waller, said that the company has printing solutions that cut across the colour printers, mono printers, fax, dot matrix printers, noting that Oki colour-coded segments designed to help customers save time.

Mr. Waller also said that customers who are in search of printers to add to their businesses should look out for Oki brands.

“They should check out the latest advances in technology on our website, simply use our colour guide,” he advised.

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Cisco breaks new grounds in West Africa

CISCO Systems has continued to break new grounds in the West African region in the last 12 months of its operational presence in the sub-region.

Managing Director, Cisco West Africa, Mr. Maduka Emelife, while disclosing this said that after one year of setting up its West Africa office in Lagos-Nigeria, the firm has stepped up its drive to stimulate social and economic development across the sub region.

This came as Cisco warms up to enter Liberia, with a workshop billed to take off today, Wednesday, April 25, this year.

Mr. Emelife who spoke through the Marketing Manager, Cisco Nigeria, Mr. Owen Nwelih, noted for instance, that in Nigeria, the company has established a strong and growing presence in both the public and private sectors, stressing that as at today, Cisco has mutually rewarding partnerships with leading corporations across both sectors and helping to provide robust access as a vital catalyst for economic productivity and development.

He also revealed that on April 4, 2007, the Federal Government of Nigeria announced a partnership between Cisco and Federal Ministry of Education.

He said that under the terms of this arrangement, Cisco would be assisting the government in training and strengthening the skills of some 20,000 university graduates; converting them from otherwise unemployable graduates, to knowledge workers, who are immediately employable in the networking, telecommunications and Internet economy.

“The partnership will fall under the purview of the Cisco Network Academy, a global corporate social responsibility vehicle of Cisco whose objective is to assist students all over the world in building their knowledge and skill base in the area of information and communications technology,” he said.

Mr. Emelife pointed out that Cisco currently has over 10,000 academies across the world and these academies impart skills via a uniform global certification scheme covering different aspects of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and spanning specific periods.

He added that Cisco’s certification is globally recognized and typically, people are more attractive to employers and potential employers when they posses the Cisco certification which are awarded by its academies.

“Some of the certifications are Cisco Certified Network Associate - CCNA, Cisco Certified Network Professional - CCNP and the ultimate certification in networking, Cisco Certified Internet Expert – CCIE,” he said.

Just as Cisco reiterated its commitment to bear about 84 per cent of the USD 34 million fee which the partnership is expected to gulp, with the Nigerian government bearing the balance of 16 per cent.

Mr. Emelife, was also quoted as saying that the Nigerian project is specially dear to Cisco and is just one of a series of efforts by the organisation to actively assist in the technological empowerment and in that way, the economic development of the West African sub region.

He further said that the Liberian workshop would be graced by the President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, her cabinet members, legislature and the key parastatals in Liberia.

“The workshop would help to produce a clear and executable plan for the development of national communications infrastructure which will in turn drive the transformation of Liberia’s social and economic sectors,” he said, noting that Cisco plans to deploy its significant technical and business resources to assist the Liberian government in developing a robust roadmap for the transformation of country.

According to Emelife, Cisco’s chief executive, Mr. John Chambers “has made a definitive statement to the effect that the two main drivers of change in the world today are education and the Internet,” emphasizing that his firm desires to have this applied to Liberia as in elsewhere in the world and consequently, in the course of the workshop in Liberia.

“We will also be examining ways by which Cisco can assist the Liberian Government in addressing the knowledge and skills shortages in the country” he said.

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SAT launches new website

SOUTH African Tourism (SAT) has launched a new business tourism website at IMEX, the world’s premier, annual travel show for international buyers and sellers of business meetings and incentives offerings which recently ended in Frankfurt Germany.

Accessible via the www.southafrica.net/businesstourism, the business tourism site is, as contained in a press statement endorsed by the General Manager, Business Tourism at South African Tourism, Ms Angeline Lue, said it is highly interactive with robust search functionality.

“It has been designed from the point of view of the prospective user. The users include meeting planners, professional conference organisers, in-house corporate meeting and event planners, government, destination management companies and association management companies,” Lue said.

The manager also said that the new site has been designed to meet the demand for current and relevant information and to equip the trade to better sell South African as a Business Tourism destination.

Lue equally said that the feature-rich website would be made operational in two phases, with phase one featuring product information through a search tool on a range of relevant elements including our world-class venues and accommodation choices, activities and attractions, news, events, testimonials and case studies.

As said by her, the first phase also would include details of the unique business unusual proposition that allows planners to include single or multiple elements of management concepts indigenous to South Africa with universal application to events and meetings.

She cited some examples to include using drumming as a team building exercise to pairing international captains of industry with their South African counterparts and/or using local cultural concepts like Ubuntu with respect for the dignity of all and an emphasis on partnerships.

Resources, she said, such as online brochures, presentations, activities and itineraries as well as the capability to customize itineraries.

Equally, the tools such as a currency calculator, e-brochures and maps, as well as events calendar and quarterly newsletters, industry contact information, and searches via three methods: keyword, location and an interactive map.

“We are very excited about the search optimisation and the easy-to-use navigation. Phase two will focus on the creation of easy-to-use wizards for professional conference organisers and meeting planners, and another wizard for incentive houses. These will provide them with a set of tools and guides to put together plans, itineraries and motivations for holding their meeting or event in South Africa. Phase two is scheduled for launch in September this year”’ says Lue

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Workshop calls for all-inclusive NEPAD

•On communications

A three-day communications workshop organized by the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) ended in the city of Accra, Ghana at the weekend with a call for an all-inclusive NEPAD.

The workshop in a communiqué made available to newsmen, outlined that mobilization of different stakeholders within the African continent should be advanced to prevail an effective participation in and avail Africans to holistically see NEPAD as their own.

In addition, participants at the workshop suggested the utilization of existing and new structures as well as networks to effectively communicate the NEPAD message.

The workshop attended by representatives of government, intergovernmental agencies, youth and the private sector, civil society organisations, as well as developmental partners, also called for development of an accessible and affordable communications infrastructure.

This, they said would accelerate progress in finalizing the integrated communications strategy, even as a second meeting of experts has been scheduled also in Ghana between May 3 and 4, 2007.

The communiqué equally noted that in spite of many NEPAD success stories till date, the African initiative is still not fully known or understood in the continent.

This misunderstanding, participants said, has often led to confusion regarding the role that stakeholders were expected to play in its implementation.

A press statement from NEPAD Communications Manager, Mr. Samuel Nganga, informed that in order to address this challenge and to develop a unified approach to communicating NEPAD, as well as develop a clear NEPAD brand for ease of communication, the secretariat convened a communications workshop in Accra, Ghana.

The participants resolved to work on existing opportunities to change negative perceptions and images about Africa by building on existing expertise and networks and by co-ordinating current communication efforts to collectively promote a common vision for the continent.

According to him, the workshop noted that while Africa has many untold success stories, the time has come to promote the continent using sports, arts and culture in an effort to reach out to all generations, with the FIFA 2010 World Cup presenting huge opportunities.

Participants further highlighted the need to reinforce ownership of NEPAD, secure buy-in and inculcate a sense of belonging by celebrating Africa’s regeneration and promoting Pan Africanism during the week of 25 May. which is Africa Day.
This, he said explained would be to affirm NEPAD as the foremost movement for socio-economic renewal in Africa.

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Gloword opens @ Tinapa, 33 others

Third Generation (3G) licensee, Globacom Limited has advanced plans to open its Gloworld at Tinapa Business Resort in Calabar and 33 other locations nationwide before the end of next quarter.

Managing Director, Gloworld, Ms Shade Boyede, said that arrangements have been finalized to open the telco’s hi-tech customer service and sales office, Gloworld, in 34 new cities including a second in Calabar at the newly opened state-of-the-arts business district in Tinapa.

According to her, the new Gloworld outlets would offer on-line services and real time connectivity with Globacom’s central customer database located at the headquarters in Lagos.

This, she said, would allow customers for immediate fault identification and resolution, stressing that it would make the network’s products and services readily available.

“Apart from the city of Calabar, Garki in Abuja, Enugu, Kaduna and Benin would also be getting additional shops while Port Harcourt would have two additional shops on Trans Amadi Layout and Aggrey road,” she said.

Ms Boyede also said that Globacom would open five more shops in Lagos, namely at Okota in Isolo, the Local Terminal of Murtala Mohamed International Airport, Mafoluku along Airport Road, Mushin and Ketu.

This, she noted, would bring the total number of outlets in the Lagos metropolis to 14.
“New Gloworld outlets and service centres will also be opened in Abeokuta, Yenagoa, and Ijebu Ode,” he said.

As said by her, other towns to play host to Gloworld offices are Oyo, Katsina, Ekpoma, Nsukka, Minna, Lokoja, Owerri, Zaria, Akure, Abakaliki, Okene, Badagry, Oshogbo, Ife, Gboko, Ondo, Shaki, Gombe and Dutse.

She stressed that these shops are in addition to the 35 Gloworld outlets that are already in operation across the country, noting that with these, Globacom leads in the number of customer care shops among its competitors.

She explained that Gloworld is the strategic retail business unit of Globacom consisting of outlets that offer subscribers a convenient and easy access to the network and other complimentary products and services in a world-class environment.

Ms Boyede pointed out that the first Gloworld outlet was commissioned in Abuja in September 2003, just a month after the telco commercially launched its services.

“Apart from its classy ambience and customer – friendly environment, the Customer Care staff manning the Gloworld shops are specially trained and well grounded in the art of providing the best services to Glo customers. The shops are also equipped with the latest telecoms technology and are connected to the company’s main switch in Lagos, all in a bid to give subscribers faster and better service delivery,” she said.

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Race Telecom unveils 7-Always-On

Lagos-based Value Added Service (VAS) company, Race Telecommunications International Limited, has introduced Seven Always-On Mail Enterprise edition into the nation’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) market.

Chief Executive, Race Telecoms, Mr. Theo Manafa, said that Seven Always-On mail enterprise edition, enables users to keep in touch.

“Seven Always-On means that key people must be able to participate in the flow of information in real time wherever they are,” he declared, stressing that the solution extends business information as well as enterprise and private messaging out to mobile devices without any interaction by the users.

He explained that it helps managers to make better decisions faster, professional services people serve their clients better, sales people make more sales, and everyone communicate better.

“Seven Always-On Mail is designed around the user rather than the needs of technology, a principle which won it the prestigious award for Best Corporate Wireless Application in 3GSM World Congress in 2003 and a nomination for the same prize in 2005,” he said.

According to him, all technical details, including wireless connectivity, security and programme updates, are transparent and with real-time push technology.

“There’s no need for synchronization and no delays in getting the latest information and acting on it. Users can take their e-mail, Personal Information Manager (PIM) functions and desktop applications for granted and take them anywhere to use anytime, online or offline,” Mr. Manafa said.

He emphasised that Seven Always-On mail is a full mobile office offering for mobile operators and service providers, just as it delivers all the benefits of real-time enterprise and private messaging and with a very comfortable user experience and end-to-end security.

“It brings all the key components that users are familiar with when using Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, or Internet email on their desktop and provides access to them, over the air, from users’ Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or smart phone,” he said.

Mr. Manafa pointed out that Seven Always-On mail is offered as a managed service also known as licensed software integrated in the mobile operator’s network.

“Always-On Mail allows mobile operators to offer a complementary offering to BlackBerry, a True Push functionality for 3rd party devices, or as a competitive offering to BlackBerry with a full differentiation advantage from operator-branding, customisation and control,” he said.

As said by him, the unique technology powering Seven Always-On Mail enables the user to deploy the solution in minutes without entering a single configuration into the device, making it feasible for a non-technical user to enjoy the benefits immediately.

“Direct device installation also allows pre-installation by the device manufacturer or value added distributor, and distribution on memory cards, or on an operator’s mobile application portal,” he said.

He added that Seven as a brand, is the global leader in Push Email software, hence controlling about 70 per cent share of the mobile email market in most Asian countries including Japan.

“Over 115 top mobile operators are deploying Seven as their preferred push email solution around the world and in Nigeria, through Race Telecoms, most banks and large corporations are currently running trials of the enterprise editions, whilst some are already deploying the full versions to their mobile workforce,” Mr. Manafa said.

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TV firms urged to take part in Channel O bid

Pan African Digital Satellite Television (DSTv) music entity, Channel O, has urged Nigerian television production companies to take part in the channel’s proposals for a 13-part, 30-minute, weekly, original music show to be based in Nigeria and to focus on local artistes.

Public Relations and Communication Officer at MultiChoice Nigeria, proprietors of Channel O in the country, Mr. Segun Fayose, said that they look forward for an entertaining, exciting programmes with a distinctly West African flavour.

He also said that Channel O is encouraging producers who wish to submit their work to ‘break boundaries’ in terms of content and format design.

He said that TV companies interested in pursuing a working relationship with Channel O should submit their proposals to the channel.

“Each proposal should be no longer than 10 pages and should include a detailed creative treatment, a summary format document, a preliminary budget and a basic production timeline,” he explained.

Mr. Fayose added that bidding companies should keep in mind that the success of any production is dependent on the talent of its creative personnel, as all proposals to Channel O should also include detailed information on directors, producers, writers and production managers.

MultiChoice spokesman said that bidding companies should ensure they provide proof of the company registration, details of the members of the company, banking and auditing information, a list of programmes they have created in the past five years and two references.

He tasked bidders to ensure that the total budget available for the production is USD 60,000 and Channel O will allocate this budget based on the scope and scale of the selected new format.
Mr. Fayose further said that Channel O encourages producers to seek sponsorship, as the channel would like to work with Nigerian business to develop brand synergies and mutually beneficial partnerships.

He added that dependent on proposals, Channel O has plan to begin production on the new show in July this year for later screening.Mr. Fayose said that proposals must be submitted to Channel O before May 15 and could be electronic mail (e-mailed) to sndebele@mnet.co.za.

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VIA, HP take affordable PCs to China

Taipei-based leading chip technologies and personal computer (PC) platform solutions, VIA Technologies Incorporated and Hewlett Packard (HP) have teamed up to offer affordable PCs to the Chinese.

President and CEO, VIA Technologies, Wenchi Chen, informed that the PC known as HP Compaq dx2020, is a highly energy efficient commercial PC for the Chinese market powered by the VIA C7-D desktop processor.

Company sources informed that in recognition of the need to modernize the enterprising sector of the Chinese market, the rapid adoption of computer technology become imperative.

Hence the coming of the HP Compaq dx2020 PC meets the needs of businesses across the commercial spectrum, with the added assurance of HP’s renowned manufacturing quality for greater system reliability and lower maintenance costs.

“Environmentally sustainable computing is a key element of system design,” he said, stressing that with fully RoHS-compliant, the HP Compaq dx2020 features the power efficient 1.5 Gega Hertz (GHz) VIA C7-D processor, the world’s first carbon free processor with a maximum power of just 20 watts for much lower electricity use than traditional PCs, and has achieved certification by the CECP, the China Government’s key energy rating agency, for its highly efficient operation.

“It is vital that companies across China, not just in the largest cities, gain access to the vast productivity, efficiency and online resource benefits of IT and the Internet,” said Chen.

In addition, he said, the HP Compaq dx2020 represents a great opportunity for many more Chinese businesses of all sizes to upgrade their operations while minimizing their power costs and environmental impact, and we are delighted that HP have selected the VIA C7-D desktop processor to create this excellent value proposition.

He also said that it was designed from the ground up for reliable commercial performance, the HP Compaq dx2020 combines leading performance per watt with all the latest PC technologies, including DDR2 system memory, Serial ATA hard drive, and USB2.0 for 480Mb/s connections to bandwidth-hungry peripherals.

“The VIA UniChrome Pro II integrated graphics processor features hardware MPEG-2 video decoding acceleration for smooth DVD playback, multi-channel audio and 128-bit 2D and 3D graphics engines for an enhanced multimedia experience,” he said.

He highlighted that the stylish black chassis will fit into any smart office environment, with two Universal Serial Bus (USB)-2.0 ports located at the front for easy user access, while the inbuilt Ethernet port enables seamless broadband connectivity to company networks or the Internet.

He assured that with the key data security available through VIA StrongBox, an application that utilizes the power of the military-grade VIA PadLock Security Engine integrated within all VIA processors to encrypt the storage of confidential information, the HP Compaq dx2020 is compatible with the Microsoft Windows XP operating system.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Challenges before Olufuye @ ITAN

Features of the week:

The Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN) recently elected new executive members led by Chief Jimson Olufuye, to steer its ship in the next two years. REMMY NWEKE, outlines some challenges awaiting the leadership.

Fortnight ago, ITAN had its Annul General Meeting (AGM) cum one-day consultative forum on ‘Enhancing Information Technology (IT) Penetration in Nigeria (EITPiN 2007): Imperative for the success of PC instalmental payment schemes, ” in Lagos.

Welcoming participants to the forum which addressed the importance of IT in the nation’s life, the immediate past national president of ITAN, Chief Will Anyaegbunam of Beta Computers Limited, stressed that for a meaningful sustainable development, core IT diffusion is no longer debatable.

Chief Anyaegbunam also noted that this has become evident of late with an embrace by the banks through provision of facility for local Personal Computers (PCs) manufacturers to distribute computers nationwide, emphasizing that in the banking and telecoms sectors, all the laudable developments as well as products currently are made clearer through deployment of core IT.

While lauding participants for gracing the forum, Chief Anyaegbunam, pointed out that the challenge remains on how to drive the penetration of core IT through hardware deployment which is expected to give boost to massive use of PCs; at homes, offices, educational institutions, government and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).

“For us in ITAN, that represents the hardware sector of the ICT industry, this is a challenge that we’re determined to play a pivotal role in addressing as a successful combat of this will impact positively on the fortunes of our members and advance the growth and development of our dear country,” he said, adding that finance has always been a challenge to acquiring of PCs, hence the theme of the forum was described as very apt and timely.

What is ITAN?
ITAN was established in 1991 as Microcomputer Vendors Association of Nigeria (MiVAN) and five years later transformed into Computer Vendors Association of Nigeria (CoVAN), yet in year 2000, following what some stakeholders described as dynamics of its membership and growing larger Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), the group was further transformed into today’s ITAN.

Two years later, consequent upon the need to have a standardised umbrella body, ITAN was part of the formation of the now Nigeria Computer Society (NCS).

ITAN prides itself as having played pivotal role in the coming on stream of locally manufactured computer systems in the country, including Zinox, Omatek, Speedstar through NACASET; successful mitigation of the Millennium Bug 1999-2000 in association with the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology; drafting and adoption of the National IT Policy 2001, which paved the way for the establishment of the National IT Development Agency (NITDA), as well as reduction on Custom duty on IT components to zero from hitherto 32.1 per cent down to 5.35 per cent and finally zero.

Emergence of Jimson Olufuye’s presidency
Top of highlights at the AGM was the election of new executive members, which saw the immediate national first vice president of ITAN, Chief Jimson Olufuye, emerging as the new president of the group at its general election.

The chairman of ITAN electoral committee and chief executive of Innovative Systems Limited, Chief Ernest Aghanenu, pronounced Chief Olufuye, who is the chief executive of Kontemporary Komputers Limited, the winner.

According to the electoral committee, Chief Olufuye’s emergence was unopposed while the chief executive of Gafunk Computers, Mr. Ganiyu Alimi and Mrs. Bunmi Badru of Termex Limited equally became the first and second vice national president’s respectively.

Equally elected into the new executive of ITAN were Mr. Olu Joseph from Sephix Limited, Abuja as the National Publicity Secretary, Ms Akinyola Akinyemi of Omar Ventures, National Treasurer, Mr. Olumide Akinmutimu of Omatek Computers emerged the Assistant National Secretary, while the office of the National Secretary remain vacant, Mr. Tunji Balogun of Brain was elected as council member of ITAN.

In his acceptance speech, the newly elected president, Chief Olufuye traced his interest in the group to the visionary leadership of former ITAN president, Chief Chris Uwaje.

Chief Olufuye also promised to take ITAN to the next level of development, saying, “the next level would be to move ITAN from its hitherto position to its expected leadership position in the IT Industry.”

He recalled that ITAN was well known for aggressive but sound industry initiatives like the local production of Personal Computers (PC) initiative of 1996, that which resulted in the likes of Zinox, Omatek, Beta, Brian among others, noting that the very successful IT Policy drive of 1999 by ITAN resulted in the adoption of the National IT Policy by the Federal Executive Council in March 2001, stressing that all this eluded ITAN in the past few years.

He promised to make ‘Next Level’ the focal points of his administration through which he intends to resuscitate ITAN brand and membership with the goal of adding critical values to their businesses.
“In this regard, ITAN would organize quarterly capacity/policy/development forums like EITPiN, to stimulate the industry,” he said.

In addition, he said his regime would promote top-level synergy with other sister associations in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry in order to amass and drive critical developmental mass.

“I would be interested in strengthening the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) accord and working assiduously to ensure its success in all ramifications,” he said.

Further, Chief Olufuye assured that his era would be work toward full compliance with the Computer for Professional Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) Acts by ITAN members for the professionalism of the industry.

He pointed out that ITAN would endorse any presidential candidate disposed of creating the Ministry of Information Technology and pursue the passage of critical IT developmental bills on assumption of power on May 29, 2007.

Chief Olufuye, therefore extended hands of fellowship to other associations of similar objectives in Africa and globally.

On April-07 polls
Speaking on April 2007 general elections, the newly elected ITAN President Chief Olufuye, tasked Nigerians and members of the group precisely to ensure that they vote for IT-inclined candidates.

He stressed that what the nation needs now are leaders that would leverage on the gains made in the last eight years of democratic dispensation, which equally witnessed its boom in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

“I encourage Nigerians to vote only in the Senatorial and House of Representatives candidates that are ICT compliant in the forthcoming elections,” he said, advising that professionals in the country and specifically ITAN members should take the general elections seriously.

“IT industry stakeholders must take the forthcoming elections serious and vote only for candidates that have ICT agenda in their manifestos,” he said, emphasising that by voting for ICT inclined candidates, Nigerians would be advocating for more benefits from ICT sector.

“Now is the time for the new government to move Nigeria to the next level of ICT penetration in the country,” he said.

Chief Olufuye, stressed that the next level is the creation of ICT ministry, adding that the quickest way to transform Nigeria would be through an ICT-driven society.

“With its attendant accelerated development, ICT is to address issues bordering on Information Society (IS) at the highest level possible,” he said.

He cited examples from the creation of the petroleum, agriculture and solid minerals development ministries among others to address those specific and critical developmental issues.

“If Nigeria truly wants ICT to be a major foreign exchange earner then the next government must address IT at the highest level. Ministry of Information Technology Development is different from the Ministry of Information and Communications, he said.

He commended the outgoing president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, during whose tenure Nigeria has witnessed series of development in various aspects of ICT.

He also cited that Obasanjo administration created NITDA, Computer for All Nigerian Initiative (CANi), Galaxy Backbone Ltd, the Directorate of Cybercrime and liberalized the trail blazing telecom industry.
Chief Olufuye further described Obasanjo as the only ICT President the country has ever known, just as he regretted that uptil date, the government was unable to pass the NITDA bill.

Challenges before Olufuye
The new leadership must have emerged in ITAN but the challenges before them could be gamut in nature though surmountable, including the need to resuscitate the quarterly CEO’s meeting announced in 2004 by the immediate past administration, which as matter of fact did not go beyond that announcement because of non-challant attitude of CEO’s in its membership to make out time to be part of the industry evolutions.

Second, there is need for ITAN at this point in time to have its administrative arm strengthened by instituting a novel revenue drive mechanism to encourage its membership to pay their dues as at when due and eventually clear all the salary arrears owe its staff which is currently only two as at the time of filing this report.

The issue of employing Executive Secretary to run the secretariat is long overdue, therefore, it has become of necessity and the earlier it is done the better for the organisation, to be well positioned even as nothing stops ITAN from encouraging growth in its workforce by supporting a professional training for the employees and eventually elevate one of them to that Executive Secretary position, in order to ensure that somebody who knows and understands ITAN assumes that position with relevant responsibilities.

Also, the media quarterly briefing of the out-gone executive must as a matter of urgency be put back on track to not only make its voice to be heard but to enable members of the public represented by the media to add value to its projects.

Equally, instead of waiting for media outcry before waking up from its slumber as it could be recalled that it took the previous executive almost 11 months to have its first media outing, after which it was described as having gone into oblivion.

Noteworthy too is that this is the first time its president is emerging from outside Lagos, the nerve centre of the nation’s economy, hence it could be a trying moment for Chief Olufuye to be traversing between Lagos and his base in Abuja.

The traversing could be good at this initial stage of entrance, but as today’s leadership evolves, he should employ delegation, especially since his first and second vice presidents are based in Lagos.

In addition the issue of using committee to face leadership challenges has been gaining currency in the country and should be optimised, just as the ITAN website and electronic mail (email) should be refocused with immediate effect with the believe that www.itan-ng.org is still kicking without undergoing another melodrama that ITAN went through before now.

The dream of having ITAN regional chapters can only manifest when the central and only national chapter is strong.

Maybe, Olufuye has some answers to what has been achieved in the last four years at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) where he is coming from and from here the success story can now begin, among others.But as posited by one of the stakeholders, even if it means organising a fund raising for the sustainability of ITAN, Chief Olufuye-led executive should embark on that initiative as soon as possible, to give ITAN a new breadth, whether in the short or long-term phases, just as convergence of ICT has made IT industry issues obsolete.


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GSMA disagrees with NCC over IMEIDB

Umbrella body of the global mobile telecommunications and Third Generation (3G) operators, the Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA), has disagreed with the nation’s telecom regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the management of the International Mobile Equipment Identify DataBase (IMEI-DB) in the country.

It would be recalled that recently NCC began tinkering on involving private entities outside the telecom operators in the management of IMEI-DB, and the commission has started to receive expression of interests, including some United States-based IDSV International, led by a Nigerian telecommunications specialist, Mr. Prince Uchendu, among others.

Equally confirming this move, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC boss, Dr. Ndukwe was recently quoted as saying, “a common platform would ensure that interoperability issues were easily overcome and stolen phones could be tracked and blocked easily across the networks of operators.”

As said by him, each of the operators would have the software for monitoring mobile phones installed in the networks, the theft monitor cum administrator would keep a database of stolen phones, which would be made available to the networks whenever a phone is reported stolen.

But reacting to the proposal in a chat with Champion Infotel, Director, Fraud and Security at GSMA, Mr. James Moran, said, “GSMA discourages operators from developing their own national databases for a number of reasons.”

He noted that though GSMA welcomes any initiatives that are designed to combat handset theft and is willing to work with the operators in any country to ensure the most effective and cost efficient solution is put in place, it does not believe it makes sense for operators to set up their own applications as one already exists that is free-of-charge.

“We do not believe it makes sense for operators to set up their own application as one already exists that is free to use and is capable of hosting any national or regional database requirements they may have. GSMA’s overriding objective is to help support operators to establish solutions that operate at maximum efficiency and minimum cost,” he said, stressing that the IMEI Database (IMEIDB) provides the best facility to allow the Nigerian operators to exchange stolen handset data.

“It does not make sense for them to set up their own application as the IMEIDB already exists for this and it is free to use,” he insisted, emphasising that IMEIDB provides operators with the functionality they required as it was designed by operators for operators.

“Avoids duplication of effort that the development of a local database involves by preserving the concept of a global database of stolen phones and avoids fragmentation as well as saves the Nigerian industry the significant costs associated with developing and maintaining a duplicate database,” Mr. Moran declared.

He pointed out that by deploying GSMA-based IMEIDB, operators would ensure hat handsets stolen in Nigeria are also barred on the networks of other operators connected to IMEIDB.

“This ensures more effective barring than would be the case if the data were simply shared on a Nigerian database only,” he said.

Many operators around the world, he said, have already implemented initiatives to combat handsets theft that revolve around the IMEI database and having worked with those operators we would also like to offer our assistance and support to the Nigerian operators should they require it.

He explained that it does not make sense for the Nigerian operators community to set up a national database as IMEIDB, stressing that GSMA is of the view that by setting up a national database as IMEIDB outside GSMA would not be helpful to the Nigerian telecom subscribers.

“We’re of the firm view that it makes no sense for the Nigerian operator community to set up a national database as our IMEIDB is available to them free of charge and it is capable of hosting any national or regional database requirements they may have,” he said.

Mr. Moran also advised the telecom operators and NCC not to proceed with the proposed plan to have a private entity manage the IMEIDB outside GSMA.

“It is my fervent hope that the Nigerian operators agree not to proceed with any project to develop a local solution, as this will only duplicate what already exists but at significant additional cost for the industry,” he said, reiterating that GSMA is willing to support the Nigerian operators should they wish to establish a solution to combat handset theft and believes the IMEIDB provides the perfect platform.

Mr. Moran further warned, “It is important that the Nigerian operators avoid the fragmentation that would result if they embarked on a senseless and expensive project to duplicate what already exists within IMEIDB.”

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Fraud alert: www.interswitchnig.com is fake, says InterSwitch

Premier electronic payment switching solutions providers in the country, InterSwitch Nigeria, has disassociated itself from www.interswitchnig.com, saying it’s a fake website that does not have anything in relation with it as a company.

The company, therefore, warned its cardholders to shun the request being made through the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) Short Messaging Service (SMS).

Cardholders of InterSwitch Nigeria, the company said, “Should not disclose their cards’ Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) to anyone under any guise.”

A fraud alert jointly issued by the management of InterSwitch and 23 member-banks as well as endorsed by the Managing Director of InterSwitch, Mr. Mitchel Elegbe, said it has become imperative for the company to draw attention of its customers.

“The company’s attention has been drawn to an SMS purported to have originated from InterSwitch, and asking millions of ATM card holders to register their cards online at www.interswitchnig.com,” the statement read.

According to InterSwitch’s management, the fake site was specifically developed by some fraudsters to defraud unsuspecting debit cardholders.

“The website address www.interswitchnig.com is fake. InterSwitch’s registered web address is www.interswitchng.com”, the statement added.

However, the fraudulent website has since been shut down after InterSwitch contacted the hosting company of the fake website in the United States.

Investigations revealed that the hosting company of the fake website, has since sent an apology to InterSwitch.

“In the interim, we have reported the case of the fraudulent website to the appropriate law enforcement authorities for investigation,” the hosting company stated.

Whereas assuring numerous cardholders in the country that cards issued on InterSwitch platform remain valid, the statement read: “We are reassuring all ATM card holders that all Automated Teller Machines (ATM) cards and other cards with the InterSwitch logo remain valid on all our channels such as ATMs, Point of Sales (POS), Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), mobile phones and web.”

InterSwitch member banks include Access Bank Plc, Afribank Nigeria Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Ecobank Plc, Equitorial Trust Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, First Inland Bank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, First City Monument Bank Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) Plc.

Also in the InterSwitch consortium are IBTC Chartered Bank Plc, Intercontinental Bank Plc, Nigeria International Bank (Citibank) Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc, PlatinumHabib Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Wema Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.

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Telecom lessons for FRSC

Driving along the late Pa Alfred Ruwane Road, former Kings Way Road, Ikoyi penultimate Wednesday, there was a traffic hold-up and members of the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) were on duty just before the AP filing station.

Suddenly, a senior road safety official approached an air conditioned car having seen the driver adorning a bluetooth headset, obviously on the left ear equally with his left hand on the jaw, which happens to be the side of the officer and waiting for the traffic to move.

It was baffling to see the officer initially tapped on the driver’s side and as a law-abiding citizen, the driver wind-down the car window in obedience, only to be confronted with the question, “Are you making a call?”

Definitely the officer thought that the driver was covering his mouth so as to avoid his being seen while making a call and driving.

However, the driver was apt in responding in the negative that he was not making a call, but wondered why the officer has to make the move in the first place having seen his kit of mobile communications headset.

So, one thing that came to mind with this incident is that the officer who approached the driver was not a junior officer and secondly, he is ignorant of what the bluetooth headset was all about, let alone the mere wired headset.

But come to think of it, it means that FRSC has a lot to do in terms of educating its men and women to avoid such embarrassing situation, because not every motorist who knows his or her rights would take such a ridiculous question calmly as this driver, moreso, when he had some international observers for the April election in the car and a journalist.

In addition, what the driving code of most countries said about the use of mobile phone while driving, is that it’s forbidden, hence headsets were introduced alongside to ensure that people or drivers precisely could use their two hands on steering instead of using one hand to drive and another on steering.

The question now is that if such a senior officer is ignorant of what the stipulations of the driving code and law of the land said on mobile phone usage behind the wheels, how much less would a junior officer under his control?

The definite answer to the aforementioned is the need to engage FRSC workforce on some telecommunications lessons focusing on the fundamentals and various headset models available in the market both locally and globally as well as reminding them that the usage of headsets is not an offence in the first instance.

Also, this kind of lessons could be formulated to be quarterly or twice a year as the case maybe, due to evolutions on various headsets models and invariably how these headsets look and work.

Therefore, it is a wake up call for the Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and FRSC to team up and come up with a programme to tackle this kind of issues before it becomes a heightened embarrassment.

As declared by one of the vehicle occupants, it could be annoying especially if the driver had been a temperamental individual and given the kind of hardship people go through daily, coupled with the tropical situation in the country, many Nigerians are known to be very hot-tempered.

He also advised that in order to avoid a similar incident, somebody should advocate for a telecom lessons for FRSC please.

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CSO demands inclusion of paragraph 72 in Rio agenda

Members of the Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Caucus of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) have called for more focused discussion centred on the paragraph 72 of the Tunis agenda.

Presenting the report of the February meeting to members of the group recently, coordinator of the caucus, Mr. Adam Peake, made this call and said that they would cherish future consultations like the forthcoming Rio meeting come November this year, to have ample time to specifically deal with the aspects of this paragraph that were not treated in Athens due to time factor.

He said that comments, for instance on paragraph F and I needed the IGF to discuss the good principles of Internet governance as agreed in Tunis in 2005.

In addition, he said that the Tunis document outlined how to fully implement them inside all existing governance processes, including how to facilitate participation by disadvantaged stakeholders such as developing countries, civil society, and individual users.

“We expect this to be an additional theme for Rio,” he declared, stressing that about the themes for Rio, CSOs are generally satisfied with the areas of work as defined for Athens, but noted that some of them are much bigger than others, and thus many issues falling into them were not given adequate attention.

“We would like to propose to break the openness group of items in two; one about human rights and freedom of expression and the other on intellectual property rights and access to knowledge,” the group suggested.

Mr. Peake also called for raised attention on the importance of access not just in terms of physical connections for developing countries, but also in terms of accessibility of technologies to the disabled and to other disadvantaged groups, which could equally become another group of issues.

He further said that as noted above, CSO also felt the need for what he described as ‘a meta governance’ theme.

“We are aware of the complex discussion on whether the narrow Internet governance themes, such as the oversight of the Internet addressing and naming system, should be part of the agenda in Rio,” he said.

According to him, inside the civil society group, there are different points of view about this matter, including that all agreed in the deep dissatisfaction for the lack of transparency and inclusion in the so-called enhanced cooperation process, which, had earlier been agreed in Tunis, hence demands that this should be discussed in a multi-stakeholder fashion.

“We ask that prompt communication be given to all stakeholders about the status and nature of this process and that independently from the venue chosen to host it, steps are taken to ensure the full inclusion of all stakeholders in this process,” he said in the report.

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Intel unveils efficient laptop university challenge

Intel Corporation has unveiled a challenge initiative for efficient laptop university at the European, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) aimed at finding creative ways to‘re-fuel’ laptops on sustainable energy.

Vice President and General Manager, Intel in the EMEA, Mr. Christian Morales, said that the time is right to focus on environmental challenges and to utilize available resources in an efficient manner.

Europe, he said, has been driving the environmental agenda worldwide, campaigning in favour of responsible environmental policies, noting that European leaders agreed in March 2007 to have 20 per cent of their overall energy needs covered by renewables such as biomass, hydro, wind and solar by 2020.

According to him, the Intel’s challenge is in the spirit of innovation, which has been a driving force for the company since it sold the first commercial microprocessor back in 1971, so as to encourage young generations of Europeans to take an interest in technology and its positive applications.

Mr. Morales explained that by taking heed from Europe’s forward stance on environmental issues, Intel is inviting the EMEA seats of learning to devise ingenious and eco-friendly ways to recharge laptop batteries, stressing that the target will be to fuel a laptop for a full hour by using renewable energy sources.

“The laptops used in the experiment will be high-performance ones based on the leading-edge dual-core Intel Core 2 Duo processor, specifically designed to use energy efficiently,” he said.

The vice president also said that the university teams are sharpening their wits for the creative phase ahead, which will unfold over the next six months with the final submissions expected in October.

“The university with the winning solution will be awarded funding, in terms of assets, to support scientific research,” he said, added that the contending universities from all over Europe are invited to participate.

“Already, prestigious Universities have enrolled in the challenge to represent European grey matter in action,” he asserted, noting that Germany, for instance, would be represented by the Faculty of Informatics at
the Technical University of Munich, Ireland by the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Italy by Milan’s ‘Politecnico,’ the Netherlands by the Faculty of Industrial Engineering Design at Delft University of Technology.

He emphasised that others have expressed their interest and are likely to join the competition over the coming weeks, explaining that the type of solutions they are considering in teams mentioned an array of energy sources; from simple ones like wind, water, solar power, biomass, human, to more sophisticated ones like photovoltaic, fuel cells and sterling machines.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Zinox delivers Divine Notebook to CANi beneficators

In living up to its promise, the management of Zinox Technologies Limited, has announced the commencement of delivery of its latest in stock, Zinox Divine Notebook to the beneficiaries of the Computer for All Nigerians Initiative (CANi) at all levels.

Disclosing this, the Chief Executive, Computerize Nigeria Project (CNP), Mrs. Vivian Abii, informed that the decision to supply its latest premium quality Divine Notebook, was in fulfillment of the Zinox pledge to offer world-class quality systems to Nigerians at all times.

She also said that as a strategic partner in the CANi project CNP considered it a patriotic responsibility to ensure that Nigerians got durable systems from the initiative and not the low quality systems that were ordered.

Mrs. Abii added that as usual, profit was not a major consideration for Zinox Computers, stressing that the Personal Computer (PC) giant, is more interested in supplying systems that work year after year in order to grow the industry and develop the nation.

She explained that this systems which are flexible and upgradeable Notebooks, are the latest in the global laptop market and are Microsoft Vista compliant, just as the series come with standard 512 Mega Bytes (MB) Random Access Memory (RAM), 15.4 ultra-wide Thin Film Transistor (TFT), Digital Video Display cum Compact Disc (DVD/CD) Writer, Fax Modem, Net Trace – theft tracking device, Executive drop proof leather bag, and a 13-month comprehensive No-Story-Warranty.

Mrs. Abii also said that Zinox would be supplying the high quality notebook because of the belief that only high quality systems would make the CANi project meaningful.

“Zinox Divine Notebook would compliment the quality desktop, the Zinox Power PC, which Zinox Computers is supplying to CANi,” she said, noting that the Power PC is a product designed and manufactured in association with Intel and certified by Microsoft.

“This high quality PC is a sleek and elegant personal computer with full features,” she said, adding that Intel Corporation’s team of engineers supervised the production; hence the Power PC has Intel’s seal of authority and guarantee.

According to her, the Power PC runs on Intel mobile processor 1.2 Gega Hertz (GHz), 256MB RAM, 40 Hard Disk Drive (HDD), 10/100 NIC, Fax Modem, CD Random Only Memory x 56, international keyboard and mouse.

She emphasized that Microsoft Window XP Starter Edition and 15” CRT Monitor or 15” TFT screen are optional for those who want Power PC.

“The Zinox Power PC runs on optimal power consumption and faster bus, and has anti-shock device. It comes standard with unparalleled 12 months comprehensive no-story-warranty by Intel and Zinox,” Mrs. Abii said.

She further said that both high quality systems represent not just the Zinox Computers commitment to the CANi project but the company’s undivided faith in the Nigerian enterprise.

“The Zinox Divine Notebook and the Zinox Power PC consolidate the quality vision of Zinox Computers and our understanding that there is only one standard – the world-class quality standard. Therefore, even the systems supplied to CANi must be world-class in spite of the concept to extend computer ownership to the masses, most of them being first time users,” she said.

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SpeedStar is PC brand of the year @ Titans of Tech

SpeedStar, one of the evolving locally made Personal Computer (PC) brand from Beta Computers was named the ‘PC Brand of the Year 2007’ at the just ended ‘Titans of Tech’ nite in Lagos.

The awards nite, organized by the ICT Africa to mark its 10th year anniversary was graced by stakeholders, even as the PC brand of year 2007 was presented to the chief executive of Beta Computers Limited, Mr. Will Anyaegbunam by the chairman of the occasion, Admiral Alison Madueke (retd).

Commenting after receiving the award, Mr. Anyaegbunam, expressed gratitude to Nigerians for their vote of confidence on SpeedStar as the PC brand of the year 2007.

He noted that the brand has stringent quality tests that ensures the user gets the very best in performance, stability and compatibility while providing excellent scalability and practical functionality for both home and enterprise computing demands.

“Your uptime will be at least 98 per cent guaranteed on all PCs,” he said, stressing that SpeedStar brands are the first, and most likely today the only one still, in Nigeria to come with a full and comprehensive three-year warranty.

He explained that this warranty covers both labour and parts for the monitor and Central Processing Unit (CPU), adding that other brands offer full warranty mainly in the first year, requiring customers to pay for labour and parts thereafter for monitors as well as CPU.

Mr. Anyaegbunam also said that this is a clear financial advantage for Speedstar which offers users what he described as conferment of a total cost of ownership (TCO) over a three-year period that is fixed, certain and at least, 42 per cent lower than all other brand-offering currently in the country limited warranty programmes.

As said by him, this means that for the three years that most corporations depreciate their PCs, a user of SpeedStar does not need to incur any additional costs.

Mr. Anyaegbunam, who is the immediate past president of Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN) further informed that Beta Computers has entered into an a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with two of the major banks and a leading leasing company to finance the purchase of SpeedStar brand of computers and relevant industry specific software solutions that would provide users, mostly for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as well as educational institutions, on instalment payment terms over varying periods of up to 24 months.

“Thus allowing them access to much needed IT productivity solutions they need to transform their businesses for increased performance and profitability,” he said.

He emphasised that whatever the business of the customers, “Beta Computers can provide you the relevant IT solution specific to your industry that will help you through timely and accurate information, to gain critical insight and control of your business,” noting that all this added up to the brand’s listing in the Microsoft Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) website alongside all the International major brands.

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NCC to unveil nationwide broadband plan

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has concluded arrangements to unveil its nationwide broadband Internet access plan at the forthcoming second stakeholders forum in Lagos.

A press statement from the organisers, NCC in collaboration with IT & Telecom Digest, said that the event would form platform for promotion of broadband technology in the country.

Head, Public Affairs and Government at NCC, Mr. Dave Imoko, informed that the commission is embarking on a groundbreaking nationwide road show during which it intends to educate Nigerians on a variety of issues with special emphasis on the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and broadband internet.

The commission, he said, is taking this step in order to fully implement the federal government’s desire to provide access for all Nigerians to ICT tools and products.

“NCC would use the road show to prepare Nigerians and wake them up to what has been aptly termed the second phase of the ICT revolution in Nigeria,” the press statement read.

He disclosed that in order to give the road show a proper structure, NCC has finalised plans to begin with a seminar in Lagos, scheduled to hold on Friday, May 4, 2007.

The forum, which is the second in the series, the organisers said is to broaden the vision of stakeholders, stressing that apart from Lagos, the seminar would also be held in Abuja, Enugu and Calabar.

“Broadband Internet is the next critical stage in our telecom revolution, and we intend to use the road show and all activities embedded in it, including specifically the one-day seminar in Lagos, to educate the Nigerian public on the potential benefits of broadband internet and the commission’s plans to ensure that all Nigerians have access to the internet through broadband,” he said.

NCC, he noted, have also chosen to use the opportunity that the second stakeholders’ forum organised by IT & Telecom Digest because of the high profile nature of the magazine in the global sphere as well its focused initiatives to position the Nigerian telecom sector.

“It is the Commission’s plan to get Nigerians in every nook and cranny to become aware and to have access to the Internet using broadband, which is obviously a useful tool for connectivity today, and using the second stakeholders’ forum the commission is embarking on this road show to create awareness and educate the people, because just as the commission has made mobile telephone a useful tool for work and social life, so can we make the internet via broadband,” he said.

He pointed out that after one year of the successful introduction of the Unified Licensing Regime (ULR), NCC is taking the growth in the ICT sector to a new level with broadband internet, which is largely believed, will give access to most homes and offices in the country in a much faster rate and lower cost within the shortest possible time.

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ITU, APT outline NGN implementation

The United Nations agency in-charge of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) concluded its workshop in Bangkok, Thailand with an outline for the implementation and development of Next-Generation Networks (NGN) in the region.

Champion Infotel gathered that the workshop attended by over 180 experts from 24 countries representing APT and ITU member-nations, international organizations and the private sector, was inaugurated by Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Royal Government of Thailand, Mr Kraisorn Pornsutee.

NGN is a catch phrase for the network infrastructure that will enable advanced new services offered by mobile and fixed network operators in the future, while continuing to support all existing services.

This architecture also will help leverage new technologies to dramatically reduce the cost of market entry, increase flexibility and accommodate seamlessly in a single multiservice network for both voice and data.

A joint statement from ITU and APT, showed that the workshop made some key recommendations, including that regulators and policy makers should provide clear and consistent enabling environments for NGN and be involved in the NGN planning, implementation and educational process; develop standardized planning tools to assist developing countries to migrate from traditional telecommunication networks to NGN and regulate to ensure that service providers meet agreed quality of service standards equivalent to traditional circuit switched voice networks.

Additionally, the workshop recommended that NGN required security levels that meet the needs of end users and provide confidence in the use of applications and services in NGN-compliant networks, establish NGN standards to make emergency and location-based services available seamlessly and reliably across the entire network, while raising greater awareness on the various issues related to NGN planning.

According to the Director, ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, Mr Malcolm Johnson, NGN has the potential to accelerate the deployment of telecommunication networks and services in developing countries.

“As cost and revenue are the drivers of this development, the capital cost of deploying NGN technology, both in the core of the network, and the operating costs are significantly lower than circuit switched technologies,” he said, stressing that this will enable rapid expansion of network capabilities.

Mr. Johnson noted that NGN would also enable a range of multimedia services to be provided more easily and with less cost, and so increase potential revenues.

“It offers the opportunity for developing countries to leapfrog several generations of technology,” he said, emphasising the importance of bridging the standardization gap by planning for NGN at regional levels.

Equally commenting, Executive Director, APT, Mr Amarendra Narayan pointed out that what is required urgently in order to address the needs of the Asia-Pacific region is for cost effective options of broadband access, while finalizing the international standardization framework for NGN.

“This is particularly important for developing countries and rural and remote areas. APT and ITU can play a key role in ascertaining Asia Pacific regional needs,” he said. Mr. Narayan added that a range of APT programmes are already heavily involved in NGN standardization as well as policy and regulatory issues, including the work being undertaken by the Asia Pacific Telecommunity Standardization Programme (ASTAP) and associated policy and regulatory forums.

Head, ITU Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Ms Kim Eun-Ju said, this is the first step towards meeting the main objectives of the Asia-Pacific Regional Initiative on NGN Planning, which was adopted at the World Telecommunication Development Conference in Doha in 2006.

“It aims to assist developing countries in our region to migrate smoothly from existing networks to NGN,” she said, and urged participating state and sector members to be more pro-active in implementing next-generation networks by building partnerships to satisfy the paradigm shifts in the NGN era.

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Alteq to manage W.Afri.Tel 2007

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) conference organisers, Alteq Limited, has been appointed to manage the seventh edition of West African International Telecommunications and Information Communications Technology Exhibition (W.Afri.Tel 2007) scheduled for Lagos in June.

Alteq (ICT) Limited, is a wholly indigenous Nigerian company with headquarters in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, won the appointment following certification by the sole agent of Exhibition Management Services (EMS), proprietors of W.Afri.Tel in the country, the IT & Telecom Digest.

Company sources informed that after a convincing presentation of how it will organise this year’s conference to complement the exhibition by Alteq led to the appointment.

The organisers noted that for seven years, the event has grown in reputation as the region’s most professionally organised and most widely attended exhibition, with exhibitors and visitors coming from the United States of America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

They also pointed out that although the event had always been staged with a conference, there was no conference attached to it during the last year’s event, leading to exhibitors and visitors who had become also used to conference appealing for the return of the conference to the show.

Sequel to this, it was gathered that both EMS and IT & Telecom Digest set about on how to bring back the leadership conference, according to the editor-in-chief of IT & Telecom Digest, Mr. Mkpe Abang.

“Last year, most exhibitors and visitors, including leading government officials like ministers and indeed, the chief telecom regulator, Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, made requests for the return of the conference as a regular part of the exhibition,” he said.

Consequently, he said, “we secured the right from EMS to organise the conference, because we want to maintain our central focus by overseeing both the conference and exhibition, we decided to appoint managers for the conference.”

He further explained the choice of Alteq, saying, “We took time to evaluate quite a number of companies that expressed interest to manage this year’s conference, and we were very satisfied with Alteq’s presentation.”

In addition, he said, his firm had quite a number of foreign companies, which also expressed interest in organising the conference as consulting managers, but they found favour with Alteq, having scored the highest points in the parameters set aside in search of a suitable partner.

Reacting to the appointment of his company, managing director of Alteq (ICT) Ltd, Dr. Armstrong Takang expressed appreciation to IT & Telecom Digest for the choice.

“We’re going to put in everything we’ve got to ensure that this conference comes out tops and remains indelible in the minds of those who would attend it,” he said, stressing that already his Alteq has advanced plans to bring in foreign and indigenous speakers.He pointed out that W.Afri.Tel-07 would be staged at its traditional venue, the Expo Centre, while the conference returns to the Grand Ball Room, all at the Eko Hotel, Lagos from June 5 to 7, 2007.

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DoCoMo launches Raku-Raku with Symbian OS

Japanese top telecommunications operator, NTT DoCoMo has launched its FOMA Raku-Raku phone in the city of Tokyo, based on Symbian Operating System (OS) for open mobile smartphones.

Reacting to this development, Symbian Limited described it as a welcome development, even as the firm has commenced shipping at the weekend.

Symbian OS is the global market-leading open mobile operating system for smartphones.

Marketing Officer at Symbian Company Ltd, Kyoko Horikawa, informed in a press statement that the FOMA Raku-Raku Phone basic, is the newest handset in the Raku-Raku Phone series for people interested primarily in user-friendly handsets equipped with basic functions, and is manufactured by Symbian customer Fujitsu Limited and includes the Mobile Oriented Applications Platform (MOAP) platform.

Horikawa also said that Symbian continues to focus on delivering a flexible, robust and open mobile operating system, which gives handset manufacturers and network operators the ability to develop differentiated phones, faster, more easily and at lower cost for different market segments and regions.

“Symbian customers that have shipped Third Generation (3G) phones in Japan based on Symbian OS include Fujitsu, Mitsubishi Electric, Motorola, Nokia, Sharp, and Sony Ericsson,” the official said.

Horikawa also disclosed that Symbian is a software licensing company that develops and licenses Symbian OS, the market leading open operating system for advanced, data-enabled mobile phones known as smartphones.

Symbian licenses Symbian OS to the world’s leading handset manufacturers and has built close co-operative business relationships with leading companies across the mobile industry.In 2006, estimated 51.7 million Symbian smartphones were sold worldwide to over 250 major network operators, bringing the total number of Symbian smartphones shipped as at December 31, 2006 to 110 million.

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