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Billions shut out of Internet access by government inactions

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Stop SIM pack hawking – ATCON

As members of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) meet today in Lagos for its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and election of new executive members, one item topping the agenda is the proposal to urgently accredit Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) pack in the country.

This would automatically bring to a halt the hawking of SIM cards on the streets of the nation.

SIM pack contains SIM card and other valuable information for customers or potential subscribers. SIM card is a small electronic card also called smart card used in mobile phones which carries the phone number and has the operator’s serial numbers, thereby used in identifying a telecom subscriber on a given network.

ATCON on the other hand is the umbrella body of about 161 telecom firms in the country and founded in 1992.

The proposed accreditation, according to ATCON national president, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, would aid national security greatly.

He told newsmen on Friday at a press conference in Lagos that the call has become necessary due to the security repercussions, just as they requested for mandatory call data retention database of all telecom operators to boost cyber-security initiatives of the government.

Dr. Ekuwem said that the accreditation being proposed would avail the nation a database of telecom subscribers, especially on the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) platform among others.

Lamenting that as at today, Nigeria is the only country where you could pick a SIM pack just on the street because it’s hawked without relevant data of the buyer.

He explained that in other countries of the world, SIM packs are sold in shops where relevant data of the buyer is captured including details of the international passport data page.

According to him, if a SIM after being purchased on the street is used to commit a crime it would be hardly traced, this is because the buyer may have used false name.

He pointed out that without the capturing of other important part of the buyers information such as in photographic capturing, the SIM in question could be used to perpetrate any evil act untraced.

Disagreeing with those who think the suggested accreditation would impact negatively on the sales record of operating companies and penetration of their networks, Dr. Ekuwem said, rather than allow the illegality of picking SIMs on the street to continue, its better for the nation and her citizenry to get it right now and support the reform.

“… Which would assist security agencies in curbing crimes committed via telecom and using GSM platform, which subscriber-base is over 42 million as at January 2008,” he said.

Noting that presently, there is need for the accreditation because whosoever makes a call or send Short Messaging Service (SMS) that is inimical to the national security may not be traced.

This, he said, would help the nation’s law enforcement agencies including the Police, Economic and Finance Crime Commission (EFCC), Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), State Security Services (SSS), Customs and Immigration to name a few, in carrying out their responsibilities effectively.

As said by him, the urgent need to accredit SIM packs in the country, would be top on the agenda of ATCON at its AGM and NEC election holding today.

While urging support from the stakeholders on the subject, Dr. Ekuwem said their input is crucial to make certain its victory as the deliberation take centre stage.

He argued that this exercise when accepted and guidelines issued by the industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) would significantly advance criminal investigations in the country.

Ekuwem noted that in moving forward, ATCON is canvassing for a defined and registered distribution of dealer channels for SIM packs for the operating companies.

He highlighted that sale of SIM packs after accreditation expected to start after a moratorium of about six months or one year by any dealer or seller in the country would involve a photocopy of the buyer’s international passport data page or national identification card, filling of accreditation form containing basic bio data and contact address information.

“Only accredited phone numbers should exist in the operator’s subscriber database after the moratorium,” he said.

ATCON, he said, is advocating that this database be highly classified as confidential and passworded, which means that it would be restricted to on-line access to subscriber bio-database by appropriate law enforcement agencies via a multilaterally agreed access due process.

Equally, ATCON calls for mandatory call data retention database of all telecom operators to aid cyber security initiatives, with a platform drawn from relevant agencies to manage the database, adding that even new business in form of data warehousing, data mining and storage area networks would spring up with the successful SIM accreditation.

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Steps to observe packet spoofing by ISPs (5)

Market Intelligence:

You’ll use this channel to coordinate your activities and to compare notes.)

Once you’re confident that both computers are talking to each other over the Internet correctly and are saving a valid packet trace, you can begin to gather experimental data about whatever application is of interest to you - or try to reproduce any reported or conjectured errors or problems.

For example, for our tests with Comcast, we configured one of the computers as a BitTorrent tracker and sender and gave the other computer a BitTorrent file instructing it to attempt to download the file hosted by the first computer.

The details of what you’ll test depend on what you’re interested in and will require you to be familiar with the application you’re testing in some detail.

In the BitTorrent example, it’s not sufficient simply to have both parties start running BitTorrent at this point; rather, one computer needs to be configured explicitly to offer a download to the other computer, which, in turn, needs to be configured to request a download from that computer.

When your experiment is complete, you should stop the capture and save the resulting capture files to disk.

You can then exchange these files with the person at the other end - by e-mail, for instance.

Wireshark can be used to open and display a saved capture file generated on another computer.

There are many other network analyzers or packet sniffers that could be used instead of Wireshark.

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ICT and elections in Africa: Nigeria as a case study

Features of the week:

In Africa, one of the key elements for sustenance of democracy is Information and Communication Technology (ICT).Remmy Nweke, in this report examines its impact on the 2007 election and consolidation of democracy across the continent.

The evolution of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on African continent is commendable, especially its deployment to election processes. This incursion has two sides like a coin; in making governance transparent and drawing government nearer to the voters.

Using Nigeria’s April 2007 election held between 14 and 21, as yardstick to take a look at neighbouring Ghana and Togo as pattern to ICT involvement in election.

Democratically, most elections align with the kind of public governance or geographical location of a given state, and in Nigeria it begins with the party primaries, then the general election, which include the presidential and National Assembly, governorship and state legislative arms and local government elections respectively.

Experts, for instance, have defined election as a decision making process where a population chooses individual(s) to hold official positions on trust, thus becoming ‘public servants’ according to the Wikipedia online. This, the open source encyclopaedia stated, is often the mechanism for modern democracy to fill offices in the executive and legislature for all the three-tiers of government in a federated state; namely federal, states and local systems, which usually is enshrined in the constitution of the country.

Third Term Agenda:

The impact of ICT manifested in the live broadcast via Television technology, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) induced Third-Term agenda to perpetuate then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in power after serving the statutory two terms of eight years in office.

The National Assembly made up of the Senate and Lower house, took path in salvaging Nigerian democracy under the leadership of Chief Ken Nnamani and Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari as Senate President and House Speaker respectively and lived up to yearnings of the people and media especially.

2007 election:

Prior to the general elections, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had as far back as 2005, began sensitisation of the populace on the various concepts to be used, including the Option A4, Electronic Voting (e-voting) and Open Secret ballot systems.

In Option A4, obviously a Nigerian model, voters are expected to queue behind a representative of a given political party or its candidate and counting will be done in the full glare of the public.

While e-Voting consists of several types of voting, including electronic means of casting votes and counting votes. This equally could involve punch cards, optical scan voting systems and specialized voting kiosks otherwise known as self-contained Direct-Recording Electronic (DRE). So, e-voting involves transmission of ballots and votes via telephones, private computer networks or even the Internet with the merits of speeding up the counting of ballots and availing enhanced voting access for disabled persons, thereby curtailing electoral frauds like stocking of ballot boxes with ballot papers.

Also the Open Secret ballot system eventually adopted in 2007, affords voters to cast votes in enclosure, though after due verification on Direct Data Capture (DDC) printout available at polling centres.

ICT compliant INEC:

Still, INEC introduced data capturing of eligible voters from 18 years and above in a nationwide exercise for the first time; deploying Personal Computers (PCs), digital cameras and thumb printing scanners.

Equally, INEC set up 2007 elections website, “Elections 2007” to provide users with exact information with a page created for each of the 50 political parties, listing the names of their national chairmen, secretaries, treasurers, financial secretaries, and physical address of the national headquarters of the parties in addition to contact phone numbers. The site also provided roles like ‘Find a Polling Station’ and ‘Track Candidates’ used to check results.

According to INEC chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, it was to ensure that visitors to the site including Nigerians in Diaspora and observers, receive complete and authentic information from the INEC, just as there is Voter Contact and Response Centre (VCRC) meant for the public to get answers to questions with three distinct telephone numbers; 09-222-INEC (09-222-4632) and 09-780-9339.

The presence of ICT in the 2007 general election in Nigeria saw deployment of 22,000 Direct Data Capturing (DDC) machines as at December 2006, in addition to earlier deployment of 18,000 of devices for revalidation of voters register who are eligible on or before February 13, 2007, paving the way for the registration of over 61 million voters by the time it was concluded with 40,000 DDCs.

Iwu explained that the adoption of DDC technology with manual back-up for the revalidation of voters’ register in the 36 states against the Optical Mark Reading (OMR) system was to make the exercise more transparent, speedy and less cumbersome, adding that the equipment consists of two components; the data and the printer units.

Unique local input:

:Deployment of 40,000 DDCs was a unique break for local ICT firms to prove their worth in terms of encouraging their inputs and keeping the funds within the country rather than awarding the contracts to foreign firms that would attract foreign exchange and eventually not create local employment.

As said by Chairman, Zinox Technologies Limited, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh, his company rescued the 2006 Nigerian Voters Registration exercise deal by supplying 13,000 Integrated data capture systems to INEC within four weeks.

For him, it took patriotism and financial buoyancy of the like of Zinox to deliver and save the nation from such a crisis, adding that it was a great challenge to local IT firms and Zinox has proved it is achievable. Stressing that the only way for the intervention to be a success was to provide more sophisticated devices such as Centrino laptops and wireless laptops in addition to other components that formed the solution for DDC consisting of webcam and fingerprint reader integrated in a box as well as the mobile printers to name a few.

Reacting, the immediate-past president, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Dr. Chris Nwannenna, commended Prof. Iwu-led INEC for involving ICT into core electoral process for the first time in the history of Nigeria and Zinox for its ability to deliver.

He said, it paved the route for future acceptance of ICT tools in elections, and provided experts in the country the platform to prove their worth and compete favourably with their counterparts globally.

For chief executive, Connect Technologies, Chief Chris Uwaje, usage of ICT is critical to mass involvement in governance and empowerment, describing it as a “core strategic imperatives,” adding that it presented governance in Nigeria with a fundamental challenge and opportunity to showcase her ability and capacities to manage the information systems.

Place of ICT in April polls:

The immediate past Secretary-General, Catholic Secretariat Lagos, Rev. Fr. George Ehusani, said on Patitos Gang, a current affairs discussion programme on Tv, that technology has come to stay in this country, especially influencing positively on elections. Emphasising that the April polls was different, because technology brought about by the advent of Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) among other ICT tools came to play.

Fr. Ehusani said, for instance, that rigging during the election was minimal, thus not huge as hitherto, citing a situation where party agents are armed with a mobile camera phone during the elections, at voting centres and who felt threatened simply had to use their camera phones to take shots and send it through Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) to their party leaders, even as these shots could be tendered in a law court or tribunal in the case of discontents and litigations thereafter.

Noteworthy is that political parties, especially the Action Congress (AC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwarts used SMS widely in Lagos State, much later after the public campaign was banned, in reminding relatives and friends to vote for their parties.

Also, individual politicians used SMS’ to urge voters to vote for their parties reminding them of their party symbols, even the GSM operators enjoined subscribers to go out and exercise their franchise by voting during elections, just as electoral observers used SMS and mobile phones to gather reports across the country and compare activities on the election day. While Police among other law enforcement agents announced some GSM numbers as emergency lines in case of any disturbance and used their GSM phones to exchange relevant information concerning the security reports.

At INEC, Prof. Iwu said, ICT tools were used to report directly to the headquarters network server in Abuja, because it owns a network infrastructure to forestall dependence on private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for data delivery, during and after the election.

Telescope across Africa:

In Togo, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) has a bilingual website in French and English with facilities to offer Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, podcast and journal audio. Thus the site tends to run generic multimedia rather than strictly politically related developments.

For the Burkinebe Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI); focus is firmly on election and electoral education with a 12-slide show on how to vote and the relevant processes capable of guiding anyone to follow and not be disfranchised among other offers.

And in Ghana the Electoral Commission offers list of candidates at the presidential and parliamentary levels, core six political parties with links and the electoral system in use since year 2000 when the current team was inaugurated.

Unique of the site links is that the political parties own their websites as well, which was lacking in Nigeria. Although some experts have attributed this to the number of parties involved; that is six against 50 in Nigeria and the cost of maintaining the staff afterwards.

Conclusion:

The aforementioned shows that although African nation’s like Nigeria may not be deploying the electronic voting system now, but the steps taken so far by INEC among others in West Africa, is commendable and sustainable; exposing stakeholders interest and activism in what was before now a ‘dirty game’ while they suffer silently. Even as industry observers noted that ICT input in 2007 general elections in whatever form aided the process and marks a good beginning for the continent at large to embrace.

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Zinox joins Intel exclusive Champions’ club

NIGERIA’s leading manufacturer of personal computers, Zinox Computer Group was last week inducted into the Intel’s exclusive Champions’ club in far away Rome after days of management training which formed part of the award.

Chairman, Zinox, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh, who disclosed this on arrival from Rome, Italy, after receiving the award in recognition of his firm’s input on penetration of computers in the continent and West African sub-region, said Zinox was selected to be a member of the Champions’ club as classified by Intel within the Europe, Middle East and African region, purely on merit.

On what the membership portends, Ekeh said that Intel would be working more closely with Zinox in terms of improving the company’s research and development strategies thereby supporting the computer firm to scale competitions.

“Zinox has been elected into the privilege club of Intel known as Champions club, which comes with huge incentives,” he declared.

According to him, the award showed that Zinox has hitherto proven itself without Intel’s assistance in terms of financial support and now they are coming in to invest on their own as a way of showing encouragement.

As a result, Intel team for the implementation of the Champion club incentives would soon be in the country for the take off of the project.

“They gave us a very clear indication that they will be in Nigeria anytime from next month for a take off,” he asserted.

He said the achievement would not put off Zinox initial expansion plans, which according to him, is aimed at making its products and services available to Nigerian without much ado.

Presently, he disclosed that Zinox is leading in the mobile computing – laptop – market in the country and the sub-region and would continue its expansion.

ITRealms Online recalls that few months ago, shareholders of Zinox Technologies Group, approved the injection of N3.5 billion to position the company better for competition, just as Zinox advanced strategies to acquire three local Information Technology (IT) firms with core interest in computer manufacturing.

Zinox Technologies is owned by STAN Technologies of Nigeria, Mustek of South Africa, manufacturers of South Africa, Kenyan and Zambia No.1 brand MECER Computers and Alhaner Ventures of France, a major telecom facility company with extensive interest in Europe and Africa.

The group’s corporate affairs manager, Mr. Echika Ezuka said that the latest fund injection is to truly position the company as the number one among its competitors.

He also said that the decision was taken at the board’s last meeting towards the end of 2007, and confirmed last month in accordance with the promise made to stakeholders by the founding fathers of Zinox Technologies during its launch in 2001.

He explained that the additional capital was necessitated by the need to expand its programme, which includes the planned acquisition of majority shares in some three local computer firms.

“That will add value to our present network of branches both locally and internationally in order to serve our customers better, reduce the total cost of ownership of ICT products and fast track us to our desired destination,” he said.

Ekeh hinted that Zinox is expanding its offices and support network to 20 before the end of this year.

This, Mr. Ezuka noted would add value in Zinox desire to deploy world class infrastructure that will sustain the firm’s position as the number one brand.

Presently, he said that Zinox is committed to building the largest computer assembling plant on the continent located in Lagos, Nigeria.

“When completed, this will increase our plant output by over 500 per cent and will resolve some digital interfaces faster and accurately. We shall soon relocate to a more spacious office with more high-tech facilities possibly the first of its kind on this side of the Atlantic,” he said.

Adding that Zinox group is investing too heavily on human capital that will drive this growth. He explained that this must be incubated over a minimum period of nine months.

“We have just hired over 40 new graduates for the first phase and they are all Nigerians,” he said, revealing that this was a prelude to Zinox plan to launch the largest software company on the continent.

“We intend to launch possibly the largest software,” he asserted, clarifying that Zinox is partnering with both African and Asian companies to ensure this happens between the end of next year, 2009 and first quarter of 2010.

As said by Echika, Zinox is set to launch an interest-free computer ownership scheme in the country and Ghana, pointing out that after the successful launch of Zinox Student Computer Ownership Project (ZSCOP) and the current Computer Discount scheme partly financed by a Nigerian philanthropist, few foreign interests have approached Zinox to use its credible platform to really test the reliability of the Nigerian and Ghanaian consumers when they purchase items on credit.

ITRealms Onlinel recalls that recent market study in the West African region by the United States-based International Data Corporation (IDC) rated Zinox Computers as being neck-to-neck with Hewlett Packard (HP).

Zinox, however, reaffirmed its position as the only Microsoft certified Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partner in West Africa and the largest Intel Corporation partner in sub-Saharan Africa.

Also speaking weekend at the end of Zinox board meeting in Lagos, Chairman, Mustek South Africa, Mr. David Khan, restated confidence in the Nigerian market and paid tribute to chairman, Zinox Technologies, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh for taken the franchise beyond all expectation in such a short period with a passion.

“I would say wait for another 12 months to really appreciate his road map. Stan is one gentleman you must trust because his focus is not just on money but rather building a knowledge driven Nigerian economy and we all support him and hope your government will support him to change the face of Nigeria because that is his passion,” Mr. Khan declared.

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Dell commends Computer Warehouse

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of computer giant, Dell, Mr. Michael Dell has commended the leadership of the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Computer Warehouse Group (CWG), Mr. Austin Okere, for driving penetration of Dell brand in the West African region.

A press statement from CWG, the Group Marketing Communications Manager, Ms. Morenike Popoola, said that the hardware subsidiary of the Computer Warehouse Group, recently won the prestigious Dell Enterprise Partner of the year award from Dell, at the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) partners’ forum, which took place at the Grand Hotel in Venice, Italy, from April 11 through April 13, 2008.

Mr. Dell, who gave the keynote address to a packed hall of over 200 delegates, mainly CEO’s of the most successful Dell Partners in the EMEA region, specifically took time out to personally congratulate the GMD of the Computer Warehouse Group, Mr. Okere for being one of the foremost partners of Dell.

According to Popoola, who quoted Mr. Dell as saying that CWG has shown consistent outstanding performances over the past years.

The award was presented at the gala dinner at the meeting by the Vice President, Dell EMEA Emerging Countries, Mr. Pim Dale who said, the prize was “for achieving the highest volume of sales in Enterprise Systems and Storage solutions in the region.”

Mr. Dale also commended CWL, a division of CWG for the excellent support services to Dell’s Global Segment (GS) customers and large corporate accounts in the region.

“Our customers have expressed high regard for your responsiveness and customer centric values. We trust that you shall keep up this outstanding performance in the coming year,” he said.

Responding after receiving the award, Mr. Okere, expressed gratitude to the customers who have made this feat possible with their cherished patronage and confidence reposed in CWL.

“This award challenges us to continue to be responsive to our customers and stop at nothing to ensure outstanding service experience for all our customers,” he said.

Noteworthy is that Computer Warehouse had in the past won Dell awards for Best New Partner, and Fastest Growth Partner, as well as being one of the first in the region to be certified as Dell Authorised Service Partner (DASP), and Dell Storage Gold Partner.

ITRealms Onlinel recalls that when Dell sought to have a spare parts hub in Nigeria in the late 90s, the firm turned to Computer Warehouse to act as custodian and administrator of the spares hub, a function which is still on-going and governed by the process efficiency of the ISO 9000:2000 standard in which she is also certified by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria.

CWL Systems was appointed a Dell Partner in 1994 to focus not just on box sales but also to use her wealth of experience in Enterprise Solutions to position Dell in the Data center, and to bring to bear better after sales support not only to her customers but also to other Dell customers in Diaspora.

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ICANN opens comment on DNSSEC

Internet coordinating agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has announced the opening of a comment period on the Public Interest Registry (PIR)’s proposed implementation of Domain Name System (DNS) Security Extensions (DNSSEC) in .org.

ITRealms Online recalls that on April 3, 2008, ICANN posted the PIR proposal for public information.

Equally of note is that ICANN had made a preliminary determination that the PIR proposal requires further consideration by the Registry Services Technical Evaluation Panel (RSTEP) because the new service could raise significant security or stability issues.

ICANN explained that under the terms of the Registry Services Evaluation Policy, RSTEP shall have 45 calendar days from the referral, that is until June 5, 2008, to prepare a written report regarding the proposed registry service’s effect on security and stability.

The report expected to come along with a summary of any public comments will be forwarded to the ICANN board, just as it would set forward the opinions of the RSTEP, including, but not limited to, a detailed statement of the analysis, reasons, and information upon which the panel has relied in reaching their conclusions, along with the response to any specific questions that were included in the referral from ICANN staff.

However, it was gathered that the precise addendum is a change to Section 3.1c(i) of the .ORG Registry Agreement.

Comments on the PIR proposal, ICANN said, should be submitted to pir-dnssec-proposal@icann.org and would be considered until 23:59 UTC 24 May 2008.

Public comments would be available for consideration by the RSTEP review team and the ICANN board, and may be viewed at http://forum.icann.org/lists/pir-dnssec-proposal/.

Part of the amendment No. 2 to the .org registry agreement showed that ICANN and Public Interest Registry agree that the modification be made to Section 3.1(c)(i) as at December 2006.

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DigiCore tech records 27% success

Digicore technology has recorded 27 per cent growth in fleet management solutions according to a recent research conducted in the United Kingdom, reports GERALDINE OKOLIE.

The survey indicated that 27 per cent fleet operator bank on Digicore amidst 150 service operators.

The survey was designed to measure the up take of vehicle tracking amongst fleet operators, on how the technology is being used, and what barriers are preventing more companies adopting the solution.

Chief Executive Officer,(CEO) Digicore Group, Mr. Nick Vlok, said that the survey reaffirms trends reported by other 31 operators around the world who are all experiencing rapid growth in the implementation range of award winning C-track Global Positioning System (GPS) fleet management solutions.

Managing Director of Digicore UK Limited, Mr. Tom O’ Connor said “The results of the vehicle tracking survey 2008, suggests that an increasing number of Fleet operators are utilizing tracking technology to better manage and control their vehicle operations”.

The research, he said, found out that uptake was greatest amongst commercial vehicle fleets with 30 per cent and operation with more than 100 vehicles 31 per cent.

More than half of the companies not using vehicle tracking have considered investing in the technology but over a third is still unaware of the benefits it provides.

Fleet operators achieving payback from their investment in vehicle are enjoying a range of benefits including increased productivity (54 percent).reduced cost, Fleet operators are now achieving an average of 12 per cent saving on their fuel bill and lowering overtime claims 13 per cent.

In fact, 85 per cent of vehicle tracking users said they were satisfied with their current solutions provider.

In addition, only 48 percent of these Fleet operators thought tracking could benefit their business, and only 44 per cent believed it could offer a return on investments.

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Morshid to preside @ special Connect Africa session

Director, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), Mr. Sami Al-Basheer Al Morshid would preside over a special session of Connect Africa at the forthcoming Telecom Africa billed to hold in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, next month.

A press statement from the global telecom regulator, ITU, said that the forum tagged ‘From Kigali to Tomorrow’ has been scheduled to hold on Tuesday, May 13, 2008.

Champion Infotel also gathered that a press conference has been planned at the event to announce major initiatives and roll-out of USD 55 billion commitments to connect Africa as achieved in Kigali, Rwanda, last quarter of 2007 during the launch of the Connect Africa Initiative.

Worthy of note is that in October 2007, ITU organized the Connect Africa Summit, in its bid to bridge the digital divide it came up with the scheme under Dr. Hamadoun Toure-led ITU as its Secretary General.

Over a thousand participants from 54 countries, representing governments, industry, development banks and international organizations met in Kigali, Rwanda to mobilize the human, financial and technical resources needed to expand access to ICT infrastructure across the continent.

According to ITU sources, planned investments totalling USD 55 billion were announced to connect Africa and help accelerate implementation of the objectives of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Further important commitments, ITU said, were made in workforce training as well as policy and regulatory reform to support these investments, it was gathered that ITU is at present working closely with the Connect Africa partners to assist in achieving the key objectives, which emerged from the Kigali summit, including interconnecting all African capitals and major cities by 2012.

At the special session, there would be some keynote speakers and panellists to address issues that could move the initiative forward.

Leading the keynote speakers at the special session would be the Minister in the President’s Office in charge of Science, Technology, Scientific Research & ICT, President’s Office, Rwanda, Mr. Romain Murenzi, and Special African Envoy of the President of the European Commission, Mr José Manuel Briosa E Gala.

While the panellists would include the Chairman, Commission of the African Union, Gabon, Mr Jean Ping, President, African Development Bank, Dr Donald Kaberuka, and the United States (US) Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Ambassador David A. Gross.


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Etisalat explains move to own property

In furtherance of its plans to roll out in the coming days, the Nigeria’s fifth licensed Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operator, Etisalat has explained the reason behind its movement to own newly acquired corporate office complex.

A press statement from Etisalat, endorsed by Head, Communications, Ms Nwugo Nwoke, said that the movement is in demonstration of the telco’s preparedness to offer Nigerians world-class telecommunications services.

She added that the property located in the highbrow Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos, provides Etisalat’s top-rated employees with the right environment to function optimally.

She quoted the chief executive, Etisalat, Mr. Saoud Al Shamsi, as saying that the acquisition is a confirmation of the telco’s believe in Nigeria.

“Acquiring our own property lends credence to the fact that Etisalat believes in Nigeria and has indeed come to stay. It further demonstrates our commitment to Nigeria,” he said.

Al Shamsi explained that Etisalat’s decision to acquire its own property was strategic as it “reaffirms our readiness to offer Nigeria the best available telecom services and best human capital development.”

He further stated that the new office is spacious and will accommodate the firm’s growing workforce, adding that this will enhance the efficiency and productivity of its employees.

“Etisalat prides itself as an employer of choice. We promote good motivation for the staff in all the climes where we operate. Our belief is that a conducive work place will in the long run impact on efficient service delivery to our customers here in Nigeria”, he said.

Meanwhile, EtiSalat recently embarked on strategic staff development in its bid to offer excellent service, just as it commenced strategic staff induction and functional training programme to inculcate its core values, vision, mission, and ambitions to the employees.

Company sources informed that the programme which began on March 31 with initial 60 personnel selected from the various units of the company while the over 500 Nigerian staff will be trained in batches before the end of July.

The exercise, he said, encompasses the company’s operational manual and other developmental needs that would further equip employees to become better managers in future.

He also stated in his goodwill message to the delegates that Etisalat is an employer of choice that offers its staff an equal opportunity of career growth, irrespective of their race, culture or gender.

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Forum tasks operators, Police on facilities

Participants at the second public forum to address Quality of Service (QoS) challenges in the Nigerian telecommunications sector, have tasked operators and the Nigeria Police on the need to collaborate on the security of telecom services.

A communiqué made available to Champion Infotel, participants’ also tasked operators on the essence of educating consumers to enable them make appropriate choice that would be suitable to their pockets.

At the forum, presentations were made by the Minister of State for Information and Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Nakande, representative of the National Assembly, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), three Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators, consisting MTN, Globacom and Celtel as well as two consumer advocacy groups, the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), and the QoS Working Group.

Some of the challenges identified at the forum include network congestion, limited transmission infrastructure cum capacities, inadequate public power supply, security challenges facing telecom equipment and community relation issues.

Equally, the forum in a communiqué endorsed by the Head, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Dave Imoko, stated that after due considerations of the different presentations, interventions, questions and answers from the participants and stakeholders it was recommended that operators should fast track their pace of deployment of base stations and transmission capacities because of the urgent need to resolve the QoS challenges within the shortest possible time.

In addition, the forum suggested that all telecom stakeholders should engage relevant public institutions and agencies in the power sector to accelerate ongoing reforms in the sector, so as to improve power supply in the country.

Also, all telecom operators have been mandated to produce and publish their consumer codes of practice and service level agreements to the consumers of telecommunications services as soon as possible.

The government was urged to engage its relevant agencies in provision of incentives to operators who are interested in deploying landline infrastructures to complement the dominant mobile phone services.

NCC, the communiqué stated should collaborate with telecom operators in Nigeria to seek ways to make services more accessible to the physically challenged.

“Telecom operators should increase current resources available for their corporate social responsibility projects and programmes in Nigeria,” part of the stated read, emphasising that the telecoms operators should improve on the management of their customer care centres, including using options like outsourcing of such facilities to make them more widely available and effective.

Just as the form should be held more regularly to assist in ameliorating issues and challenges promptly.

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SAS database drives business

Leading business intelligence and analytical software and services, SAS is set to drive business through provision of deeper and integrated database engines in its offerings.

The company also said it is planning to directly integrate SAS analytics, data integration capabilities and solutions into leading Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS).

Company sources said that this initiative would deliver improved accuracy, reduce data movement and more streamlined analytic processes to businesses with enterprise data warehouses, to help speed the delivery of business intelligence throughout all levels of the organization.

Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, SAS, Keith Collins, pointed out that decision makers with faster access to analytical results tends to gain more insights into their businesses and make more agile and accurate decisions that comply with government requirements.

“As databases mature to become data appliances for distributed computations, the time has come to extend the power of SAS analytics and data transformations inside the database engine,” Collins said, stressing that as more customers leverage data and analytics as corporate assets, “they are asking for our help in managing the analytical life cycle from discovery to execution. Blending the best of SAS with the core strengths of databases making businesses more efficient and responsive to changing market environments.”

Collins further cited an instance in the efforts to address compliance issues, saying that banks are responsible for identifying suspicious activity, maintaining financial integrity and reducing operating costs, as well as for detecting and reporting criminal financial activities anywhere in the organization.

The VP emphasised that with the predictive models of SAS integrated within a relational database, banks could identify and address suspect patterns or anomalies quickly, while also speeding up the process of refining detection measures and logic to more accurately report exceptions throughout the enterprise.

In addition, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Software and Services Research at the International Data Corporation (IDC), Mr. Henry Morris, noted that by leveraging the processing power of databases and running analytics where the data resides, SAS is giving businesses another way to be more efficient and effective by helping them balance and fully utilize their technology resources.

“Accelerating the development and execution of analytics within a relational database will give customers a flexible, powerful means for implementing predictive analytics and information analysis in one location,” he said.


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HP integrates Sprint broadband on notebooks

FOREMOST Information technology company, Hewlett Packard (HP), has announced the integration of Sprint mobile broadband capabilities into several of its business notebooks, personal computers (PCs), thus giving mobile professionals convenient access to the fastest and largest United States mobile broadband network, reports CHARLES OKOH.

A press statement made available to Champion Infotel by the marketing manager, HP West Africa, Ms Ijeoma Onyiuke, said the companies would jointly market HP business notebooks to take advantage of the dynamic features of Sprint Mobile Broadband Network, such as the faster data speeds provided by 3G EV-DO Rev. A technology.

She also said that when on the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network, HP business customers would be able to enjoy wireless connections at broadband speeds to corporate networks, email and the Internet without being tied to a wireless hotspot.

Customers, she noted would be equipped for more powerful applications and services as they become available.

“HP is working with a mobility pioneer such as Sprint to further drive richer and more pervasive on-the-go computing,” she said, noting that businesses of all sizes are looking for speedy, convenient connectivity to the people and information that is most important to them, and broad portfolio of wireless business notebooks together with the extensive speed and coverage of the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network delivers.

Ms Onyiuke quoted director, mobile business applications, Sprint, Tom Moore, as saying his firm would continue to expand the ways it could give customers quick and easy access to the information they need.

“We look forward to combining the coverage and speed of the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network with a quality notebook vendor like HP to keep customers better connected and more productive,” he said.

Champion Infotel recalls that on October 2006, Sprint became the first carrier to commercially deploy its mobile broadband network with the faster 3G EV-DO Rev. A technology and has updated the vast majority of its mobile broadband network to EV-DO Rev. A. Sprint covers more square miles, cities and airports with mobile broadband than any other carrier.

HP business notebook PCs feature security, reliability and ease of use innovations such as Drive Encryption for HP Protect Tools, HP DuraKeys(4) and HP QuickLook, which with a touch of a button allows users to browse email, calendars and contact information in as little as 10 seconds. HP business notebooks that will integrate Sprint Mobile Broadband service, including support for EV-DO Rev. A technology, include the following models, as well as additional models expected later this year:

HP Compaq 2710p Notebook PC - Weighing only 3.6 pounds, is a sleek, ultra-thin convertible notebook that combines conventional notebook productivity with tablet PC flexibility. It features an optional integrated camera for convenient video conferencing, image capture and integrated business card reader software, as well as HP NightLight on the keyboard to improve visibility in low-light conditions.


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Reltel, Zinox in digital power partnership

Two award winning Information and Communication Technology (ICT) firms, Reltel Wireless and Zinox Computers, have entered a partnership tagged Digital Power Project.

Chairman, Zinox, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh and the Executive Vice Chairman, Reltel, Mr. Ken Aigbinode, made the disclosure in a joint press briefing in Lagos.

Dr. Ekeh said the partnership was born to drive the penetration of Personal Computers (PCs) in the country through engaging the world via the Internet full of information.

He also said that why his firm decided to partner with ReltelWireless is because it rides on Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology, describing the platform as a “reliable technology.”

According to him, the partnership would avail computer enthusiasts in the country to enjoy the full potentials of their systems, explaining that the deal has introduced a promo to last for one month offering Internet access to every buyer of a Zinox laptop brand within that exercise.

“The partnership is designed to enhance Information Technology (IT) penetration in the country by presenting consumers nationwide with mouth watering incentives,” he said.

Ekeh further said that his company would offer free training sponsored by Microsoft and Intel on computer appreciation in addition to one-month free Internet access.

“These are some of the automatic benefits that now come with buying a Zinox laptop,” he asserted.

He added that buyers have the choice of taking the appreciation at Zinox recommended training centres, namely AfriHub and New Horizons, but stressed that they would have the option of taking their training at any other centres.

“From May 1 through May 31, 2008, training vouchers would be issued to buyers for every Zinox laptop bought. The training can be undergone at Zinox designated centres or the buyer may attend any training centre of his or her choice and Zinox would pay. Zinox Computers would directly conduct training for buyers who live in cities where there is no training infrastructure,” he said.

As said by him, every Zinox laptop bought come standard with Internet access powered by Reltel wireless and customers who sign on to Reltelwireless would enjoy a one-month free Internet access.

Digital Power project, Ekeh said has been designed to enable consumers to fully exploit the benefits of mobile technology, which means that Nigerians could now work or play in the office, at home, or while on the move.

This partnership between two local giants, he said, portends good for the development of technology in the country.

“Zinox and Reltelwireless are pulling together their specialties in order to better serve the customers and place Nigeria on track for the realization of the United Nations (UN) target that seeks to make the Internet accessible to everyone by 2015,” Ekeh said.

Equally speaking the Executive Vice-Chairman, Reltelwireless, Mr. Ken Aigbinode, said the bundle offer provides the most cost-effective options for Nigerians in the march to world-class digital and data society.

Under this scheme, he said, subscribers would have access to Reltel high-speed Internet services at very affordable rates across the country.

“This partnership will have the benefit of Reltelwireless’ spectrum-efficient and internet-friendly CDMA technology,” he said.

Mr. Aigbinode noted that the synergy between Reltel’s efficient technology and Zinox’s leadership in the IT industry, would translate into affordable connectivity for Nigerians.

Champion Infotel recalls that Reltelwireless is Nigeria’s foremost telecommunications solutions provider, and has been consistently voted number one in the CDMA category of the industry, and has maintained this award category in the last two years, including the ThisDay newspaper “ICT Company of the Year for 2008” award, and “The Best Telephone Company of the Year 2008”, at the Titans of Tech award, among several others.

Zinox Computers, the only Microsoft Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partner in West Africa and Intel’s largest premium partner in sub-Saharan Africa, has won numerous local and international awards in recognition of her world-class quality standards and her numerous schemes to make the computer affordable and accessible.

These awards include Intel’s highest award for growth in Mobile Technology for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Computer brand of the years 2006 and 2007, ICT Company of year 2007 This Day Awards and ICT company of the year 2008, Titans of Tech Awards.

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NEPAD e-schools to bridge divide – Ngouka

THE New Partnership for Africa ’s Development (NEPAD) electronic-schools initiative has been hailed has having the potential of bridging the digital divide and ensuring socio-economic development of African countries, reports CHARLES OKOH.

Making this observation is the Deputy President of South Africa , Phumzile Mlambo Ngouka, while declaring open the NEPAD e-schools stakeholders’ conference in Johannesburg , South Africa.

Speaking at the conference, which held from April 15 to 18, Ngouka said to participate in the worldwide knowledge economy, “we have to strengthen our collaborative efforts and develop effective national and coordinated regional strategies which will enable African countries become knowledge economies to stay above water.”

According to her, NEPAD e-schools initiative holds substantial benefits for all African people with the use of ICT, the levels of educational standards as the levels of educational standards and skills of young Africans as well as addressing inequality, poverty and unemployment in the continent.

She further noted that taking this initiative forward marked the beginning of meeting the challenges of bridging the digital divide.

Adding that ICT skills development is not only about infrastructure, but “it is about the interface between infrastructure, connectivity, electronic content and people.”

Stating that “It is not the hardware or the software that makes the difference but about teacher development, management efficiency, skills improvement and most importantly, about building the ICT skills of the people because these skills are a sought-after commodity and those who have the skills have a better chance at surviving the 21st century challenges,” she said.

Deputy President Ngouka also advised on the need to harness the growth in ICT so that it can change the lives of the people for the better, noting that the continent is experiencing the fastest growth in internet connectivity but said more needed to be done to ensure all Africans use ICT.

Speaking also at the conference, the Deputy Chairperson of the NEPAD e-Africa Commission, Dr, Henry Chasia, said demonstration projects have shown that ICT improves the quality of teaching. According to him a teacher in a rural isolated school who is connected to the internet has access to a wealth of educational materials to prepare his lesson and can exchange information with colleagues and enrich his or her courses by using ICT in the classroom.

Some of the participants at the conference included Nigeria , Algeria , Burkina Faso , Cameroon , Egypt , Gabon , Ghana , Kenya , Lesotho , Mali , Mauritius , Mozambique , Rwanda , Senegal , Uganda and South Africa . Of these, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritius, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda have already launched the NEPAD e-schools in their respective countries.

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Okigbo predicts NITEL potential for return on investment

Group Treasurer, Transnational Corporation Plc, Mr. Patrick Okigbo, has predicted a potential return on investment for its shareholders, especially on NITEL.

Champion Infotel recalls that Transcorp is the major stake owners in the Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and its mobile subsidiary, Mobile Telecommunications Limited (M-Tel).

Speaking at the April session of Institute of Directors (IOD) Nigeria, Mr. Okigbo noted that despite the challenges the telco has a huge potential to return profitability to the shareholders.

According to him, Transcorp still believes that NITEL has enormous potential to return to the path of prosperity.

Mr. Okigbo noted that NITEL has its stands today is going through a phase, “a reform that will restore it to profitable path especially if the corporation is allowed controlling power.”

Dwelling on “Transcorp and the Nigeria economy” Okigbo highlighted that global trends in nation build has led to the development of countries like South Korea and Japan.

“These countries according to him have been able to compete favourably in the global market because of the various investment varieties created by the government,” he said.

He also said that in order to achieve the set objective of Transcorp, the corporation embarked on restructuring its business model such that its focus is now on agriculture, real estate, energy and telecommunication.

Revealing that its agricultural business has started the process of increasing food supplies in the country after due evaluation of the challenges facing farmers particularly in the area of preservation of produce.

On real estate, he pointed out that Transcorp would acquire land and build properties while the energy business is presently going through a major transition.

Equally responding to questions from members of IOD at the event, Okigbo said Transcorp is aware of the investors challenge in view of the dwindled price of Transcorp stock.

In addition, he assured investors that very soon the price of Transcorp would be on the rise again especially when it concludes the reform of NITEL and MTEL.

“Transcorp has not departed from its objectives and set goals particularly has reflected in the offer document which states that the institution will declare dividend n 2009,” he said.

The corporation, he said, is presently recording huge success in various areas of operations, by reversing brain drain through employment of world-class professionals.

“… Thus our skills and technical depth is on the rise to deliver on our promises,” Mr. Okigbo said.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Operators blame NITEL over poor services

Cover of the week:

Following the strike embarked upon by employees of the first national carrier, the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and its mobile subsidiary, the Mobile Telecommunications Limited (M-Tel) many telecom subscribers are now experiencing hell on earth to get a call go through let alone data access.

This is coming as most telecom operators are now using the strike by NITEL officials as an excuse for increased poor quality of service (QoS), even those that have been experiencing bad services on their platform before the industrial action commenced.

Many of the subscribers who spoke to Champion Infotel complained of unsuccessful call attempts and increase in call-drops, just as operators have commenced actions in order to get alternative points to salvage poor quality of service that came to the fore as a result of the strike, mostly those on NITEL switches.

A lot of Short Messaging Services (SMS) have been sent to subscribers since last week when the strike began.

One of the SMS’ came from Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) Starcomms and Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) read, “Dear Customer, due to ongoing NITEL strike, you may experience degradation in internet services. We regret any inconvenience caused.”

Also, another operator sent out this SMS; “Dear Customer, we are aware that service is currently unavailable for some customers. Resolution is on-going. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Equally, it was gathered that most licensed telecom operators in the land learnt a their lessons during a similar strike by members of NITEL staff in 2006 to protest the sale of NITEL to its current majority stake owners, the Transnational Corporation (Transcorp), among others under the guise of a ‘preferred bidder,’ while in the actual sense it was not opened for bidders but closed at the presidency under Olusegun Obasanjo.

Reacting to the situation, apex telecom regulator in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) decried the state of affairs within the telecom sector and owing precisely to the strike.

NCC in a press statement endorsed by the Head, Public Affairs, Sir Dave Imoko expressed concern over the on-going strike embarked upon by employees of the first national carrier.

It would be recalled that staffers of both subsidiaries - NITEL and MTel, owned by Transnational Corporation (TRANSCORP) embarked on strike due to alleged inability of Transcorp to live up to the recent agreement reached on April 1, this year, with the mandate to settle all arrears within two weeks.

While reacting to the strike, Transcorp claimed it had paid money to offset the outstanding salaries of NITEL and MTel staff and described their actions as provocative.

The commission, however, noted with dismay that the current strike has resulted in shutting down of the NITEL’s network, inferring that the telco is the first national carrier in the country with licenses spanning provision of landline services to many government agencies and major corporate organizations nationwide.

NCC pointed out that, through the SAT-3 cable infrastructure, for instance, NITEL provides a major international link from Nigeria to the outside world.

Stressing that as a result of workers’ strike, subscribers who rely on NITEL’s fixed lines, which is less than 500,000, would now resort to patronizing other service providers, thus increasing the congestion on those networks.

Additionally, he said, that the disruption in the SAT-3 cable infrastructure would force many subscribers from various networks in the country to engage in several fruitless attempts to achieve international destinations.

NCC said, “These have the combined effect of adding to the frustrations of subscribers as well as promoting network congestion,” adding that telecom subscribers in the country should be aware of this development while expressing the hope that the problem between NITEL workers and their management will be resolved as soon as possible.

Also reacting to the strike by NITEL staff, ALTON through its chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo that its undisputable whether the strike affected ALTON members.

As said by him, the strike affected operators mostly those who have interconnection solely on NITEL carrier switched in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja with attendant loss of revenue and concern.

He emphasised though that most core operators have developed alternative interconnect point to NITEL, insisting that the case of NITEL is an embarrassment to all stakeholders, and Transcorp in particular.

Meanwhile, Transcorp maintained that it lived up to the deal, NITEL workers also stood on their ground that their demand of full payment of arrears be paid in full.

Transcorp spokesman and Vice President, Corporate Relations, Mr. Adedayo Ojo, in his response via a press statement, said the industrial action by NITEL was “provocative, illegal and irresponsible.”

Ojo also said Transcorp has fulfilled the terms of agreement reached with employees over fortnight ago.

In pursuant to the said agreement, Transcorp said, it fulfilled all obligations as at Monday, April 14, 2008 by paying the December 2007 salary into NITEL’s account.

“To our shock, embarrassment and despite the payment of over N500 Million, the employees proceeded to blockade the SAT-3 facility, which is Nigeria international telephony gateway,” he asserted, stressing that this action was not only a negation of the agreement by the workers representatives, but also a shame to the country in view of the national security implications.

“The employees action is all the more regrettable as the decision to pay the aforesaid was generally unpopular given that NITEL has been unable to generate enough revenue to pay salaries,” part of the statement read.

He urged all well meaning Nigerians and stakeholders in the telecommunications sector to ask the employees representatives for the real motives behind the current strike especially since Transcorp has fulfilled its obligations.

Similarly, chairman, National Association of Telecommunication Employees of Nigeria, Mr. Charles Amankwe, was reportedly saying last weekend that Transcorp only paid November salary as at Monday, April 14, 2008, which negates the agreement.

“They only paid it about some minutes to four [in the evening] when we had issued a statement to shut down transmission and what they paid in was just November salary and we are rejecting it,” he said.

Amankwe further said that the Abuja Territorial Manager of NITEL, Mr. J.F. Okeneye, was Tuesday last week arrested by security operatives in an effort to forestall plans to shut down transmission lines.

Noting that NITEL staff would only go back to work if Transcorp fulfilled its promises, even as the employees last Tuesday succeeded in shutting down services at its headquarters in Abuja.

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Steps to observe packet spoofing by ISPs (4)

Current Unix, Windows, and MacOS operating systems all allow you to start the ping process by typing ping 4.8.16.32 at a terminal (command-line) prompt. (On some systems, the ping will stop automatically after a predetermined number of pings; on others, you can interrupt it by pressing Ctrl+C.)

If both ends of the connection are capturing data, the ICMP packets that represent ping requests and replies should appear in the Wireshark window at each end.

These packets should be identical at the IP layer and - unless the ping utility itself reported packet loss - there should be an identical number of packets seen from both ends.

This test will show if the capture process is set up and working properly.

Here, we see how the capture process appears at both ends following a large number of ping requests from 12.13.14.15 to 4.8.16.32.

The packets displayed agree one-to-one (as could be verified by looking more closely at the packets’ contents than we do here); there are no dropped packets and no spoofed packets.

(Note that you can’t see this view from both ends in real-time; this screen shot was created after the fact by copying a saved capture file from one computer onto another.

While the capture is running, each party sees only one of the two windows displayed here; in order to verify that the packet captures correspond properly while they’re in progress, you’ll need to use some other means of communication to talk to the person at the other end ….

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Crawford students attain 129 IT certification

A total of 129 students from Crawford University owned by the Apostolic Faith were successfully certified on international Information Technology (IT) professional examinations.

Disclosing this at the official presentation of the results of the students to the Vice Chancellor (VC) of the university, Professor M.T. Ige, the Managing Director of New Horizon, Mr. Tim Akano, said that 129 undergraduates passed as international IT professionals.

“The beauty of the achievements is that till date the university is the first in Nigeria to produce at a sitting the largest figure of certified professionals, that is 129,” he said.

According to him, the students were drawn from various departments of the institution, which had earlier made the IT certification-training programme compulsory for all the students.

The feat by the undergraduates saw them making fantastic grades in highly rated international IT courses as Sun Java, Comptia A+, MOS Certifications among others.

Mr. Akano said the result is just a tip of the iceberg of the great achievements that the IT certification partnership with the university would bring to the students and the school as a whole.

He added that the performance is expected given New Horizon’s pedigree as the leading IT training entity in the world, noting that his firm places premium on 100 per cent practical-based model, even as they usually deploy the latest international contents and materials were used in training students.

Obviously excited VC, Prof. Ige, expressed the joy of the entire university community at the impressive performance of the students.

Also, he said, Crawford University has started to live up to the dreams and expectations of the visionary founders of the institution within the short period of its establishment.

He further said the university could not have anything short of all round excellence as is being experienced now because the cardinal points of the school are high spiritual and moral integrity as well as academic excellence.

Prof. Ige equally said the university has zero tolerance for social and moral vices of any form; hence students of the university are well focused towards such virtues as decent dressings, forthright behaviour and academic excellence.

Some parents who accompanied their wards to the venue of the exam on the last day equally expressed their joy on the achievements of their wards.

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UNESCO shifts IFAP strategic plan to Sept-08

Participants to the 179th session of United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO’s) executive board, which ended last week in Paris, have postponed the decision on the item concerning the strategic plan of the Information for All Programme (IFAP) to its next session billed for September this year.

A press statement from IFAP stated that the request to prepare a new results-based strategic plan for IFAP was formulated by the Executive Board at its 177th session in September 2007.

The planning process began the same year at the 13th meeting of IFAP Bureau, followed by an online discussion and the circulation of the draft document to all IFAP stakeholders.

However, the plan was finalised and presented to the 5th session of the IFAP council which held early this month, which endorsed the content covering the period 2008 through 2013, which aims at “helping member states to develop and implement national information policies in a world increasingly using and communication technologies.”

The board equally decided to postpone the consideration of the item to its 180th session in September 2008 and requested the Director-General to submit a revised plan for approval.

Champion Infotel recalls that IFAP is the only intergovernmental programme exclusively dedicated to promoting universal access to information and knowledge for development. This is a key plank in building knowledge societies.

The uniqueness of this mandate and its intergovernmental nature invest the Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Programme with the authority to speak on strategic priorities, lobby and create awareness about issues pertaining to the use of information and ICT for development at the international level.

IFAP was created in year 2000 to facilitate governments’ of the world pledge to harness the new opportunities of the information age to create equitable societies through better access to information.

The council notes that the last decade witnessed technological development at a scale and speed unprecedented in the history of mankind, but the challenges facing the world remain to ensure equitable access for all people to seize these new opportunities.

UNESCO believes that information is central to development and as such its essential for survival and sustainability as well as acting as the pathway to understanding and peace, thus, IFAP is UNESCO’s response to the challenges and opportunities of the Information Society.

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Ndukwe bags African regulator of the year award

Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, has been named the African Regulator Personality of the Year 2008 at a ceremony during the 11th edition of SATCOM Africa, which ended at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, recently.

A press statement made available to Champion Infotel informed that in the first edition of the continental award, Dr. Ndukwe was nominated for his personal contribution towards successful regulation of the telecommunications industry in Africa.

The awards tagged “SATCOM Africa Stars”, according to the organizers, was designed to identify and reward those companies as well as individuals who have demonstrated an unparalleled ability to succeed, continually set standards of excellence, and who will be the future stars of the industry.

Winning a “SatCom Africa Stars” will be seen as a recognizable standard of industry excellence” according to the organisers.

They equally said the introduction of the awards is a design to celebrate the continued growth and success of the satellite market place and focus on some of the exceptional performers within the industry.

More than 25 African countries were represented at the SATCOM Africa 2008 conference and exhibitions, which attracted international satellite vendors and manufacturers with global satellite providers like Intelsat as a major sponsor.

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NIG begins search for I4J beneficiaries

Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) has announced the request to be a beneficiary or sponsor in its Internet for Jobs (I4J) Initiative, expected to boost employment in the country and create self-reliant jobs.

President of the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Mr. Lanre Ajayi, made this disclosure at the end of a session with committee chairmen of the group, which held in Lagos, weekend, saying that every notable strategy have been put in place to ensure that those to be selected as beneficiaries would meet the laid down requirement.

Mr. Ajayi who also is the chief executive PiNet Informatics, said NIG has been reviewing processes since the launch of the initiative on July 12, last year by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe and the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Professor Cleopas Angaye, at a colourful ceremony also held in Lagos, on how best to ensure transparency and best practices in the exercise.

He pointed out that interested Nigerians, especially the youths and upcoming entrepreneurs are encouraged to participant in the initiative by merely submitting their project details through form at www.i4j.nig.org.ng.

“Simply fill a form on I4J website and submit your project, then the relevant committee would evaluate and get back to the owners,” he declared, adding that I4J is a brainchild of NIG designed to critically examine and discover the potentials inherent in the Internet to generate jobs for the populace and transform the nation eventually.

“… Especially the youths into a knowledge society,” he said.

According to him, currently NIG has been able to attract some promoters for the I4J Initiative, which included Zenith Bank Plc, representing the private sector, NITDA and NCC both representing the government of Nigeria in a multi-sectoral partnership formed soon after the initiative was launched.

“As a way of showing commitment towards actualizing the mission and vision of I4J initiative,” Mr. Ajayi said, stressing that NIG vision for I4J, is to use the platform to transform Nigeria into an Information Society where business and government services are available online and the citizens positively engaged in knowledge-driven economic activities.

“I4J is intended to address some challenges facing the nation, especially in the areas of high rate of unemployment and improve upon the current low adoption of Information Technology in Nigerian businesses and governments sectors,” he said.

Mr. Ajayi emphasized that the Initiative is intended to close the widening digital divide between Nigeria and the developed world by way of engaging some Nigerians in the fight against Internet scam.

In addition, he said, I4J strategy is to boost the current low skill and expertise in the area of IT and the inability of good IT business dreams to see the light of the day by attracting startup funding locally, expressing optimism that opportunities abound in the country that could enhance the velocity of changing the nation into an Information Society, if properly harnessed.

“We must not loose sight that Nigerians are highly intelligent and can easily be trained to adopt new technologies. Nigerians are also enterprising and if appropriately motivated can do extremely well in business including online businesses,” he said.

The beneficiaries, he said, would be supported by grants to be managed independently and provided by the sponsors of an I4J initiative project of choice.

“The grant shall not be given in cash to the beneficiary but used to pay for services supported by the I4J initiative. These services include web portal development, training - Information Technology and Entrepreneurship and marketing,” he explained.

He underscored the need for the grant, saying that it would enable beneficiaries to set up online services, which are in demand or may be in demand by their target communities or market.

“The amount of the grant to be given to each beneficiary shall be determined by the sponsor that selects the beneficiary’s project,” he informed.

He, therefore, appealed to individuals, corporate organizations, government; local, state and federal as well as their agencies, to take part in the initiative either as a potential recipient or promoter.

Admission of beneficiaries, he said, would be based on some criterion, with the opportunity for sustainability and contribute significantly to the social and economic development of the country.

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Portal Nigeria.com debuts

Chief executive, Portal Design Ventures, Mr Moses Adetunbosun has disclosed that the debut of Portalnigeria.com, an Internet marketing portal offers among other resources, the largest database of Nigerian business directory online with over 31,000 businesses already listed.

Speaking in Lagos, Mr. Adetunbosun said his firm set up the PortalNigeria.com in efforts to ease the problem associated with the search for properties, and has developed the real estate section of the portal for property owners, estate agents and the general public to easily advertise their properties and also search for available properties.

He also said that at Portalnigeria, “we will continue to develop other areas like travels and tourism, entertainment, motoring, dating and so on to meet the yearnings of Nigerians for a one-stop virtual information spot in Nigeria.”

A press statement endorsed by Mr. Tony Ofoegbu, also quoted Mr. Adetunbosun as saying that his firm has put together most resources web surfers will like to know about Nigeria.

He also mentioned that the act of pairing Internet solutions with the right marketing communications strategy could help users to create a formidable brand presence that cultivates lasting brand loyalty.

“Portal Design Ventures offers comprehensive set of services that include; online advertising, consulting, website design, affordable web-hosting and management, business directory premium listing, partnering and deployment and management of satellite TV solutions,” he said.

Mr. Adetunbosun noted that the portal has different sections with varieties of information like events, forum, news, jokes, Nigerian recipe, business directory to list a few.

The ease with which business owners could update their information in the business directory, he said, stands it out from the other online business directories.

He also noted that Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs (SMSE) could take advantage of the directory by enhancing their listing to showcase their products and services, have their domain name registered and also have personalized email addresses.

He further said that Portalnigeria would continue to develop other areas like travels and tourism, entertainment, motoring, dating and so on to meet the yearnings of Nigerians for a one-stop virtual information spot in Nigeria.

Pointing out that Portal Design Ventures is an indigenous company that started its operation in 2004 and has various products in the market of which the newly launched Portalnigeria.com website is one of them.

The company’s vision, he said, is to create a one-stop online portal for businesses and business information using the Internet and weblink relations as a platform.

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SIDSA wins Red Herring award

MADRID-based audiovisual technology provider, SIDSA, has won the 2008 Red Herring 100 Europe award, reports GERALDINE OKOLIE.

The event, which took place at the Westin Dragonora Resort from 14-16 April 2008 in Europe, was well attended.

A press statement from the semi-conductor designers, SIDSA, informed that the firm was among the top 100 private technology companies within the Europe, MiddleEast and Africa (EMEA) market that were chosen for this year’s honour.

According to the Red Herring Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Joel Dreyfuss, this year’s impressive list of winners demonstrated EMEA’ global technology sector.

The exceptional accomplishments of European technology companies and entrepreneurs are a testament to the rapid advancements being made in building the European innovation ecosystem,’’he said.

Dreyfuss said that Red Herring’s list of top private companies have become an important part of the sector’s tradition of identifying new and innovative technology companies and entrepreneurs.

He added that companies like Google, eBay and skype were spotted in their early days by Red Herring editors, and touted as leaders that would change the way we live and work.

He explained that Red Herrings team rigorously evaluated more than 100 of private companies through a careful analysis of financial data and subjective criteria, including quality of management, execution of strategy, and dedication to research and development.

SIDSA’s digital TV head end portfolio includes contribution and distribution network solutions, broadcast- to-Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), EtherTv gateways as well as terrestrial and mobile digital TV platforms, to name a few.

POLALplus, the most compact but featured head end product line in the market and compliments its head end line with key Fly 2.0,a smartcard-less conditional system, specifically designed to offer maximum level of security and flexibility in horizontal pay-TV markets, such as DTT, Mr. Joel noted.

‘’SIDSA is introducing within the semiconductors portfolio, Enter e1, its new cutting edge DVB-H demodulator and application processor chipset, available as reference designs (hardware and software) targeted at mobile devices, electronics, professional reception and micro gap-fillers markets,’’ he said.

In addition, Dreyfuss said SIDSA key differentiation is the valuable know-how and understanding of complete end-to-end Digital TV system, which allows the firm to produce products that perfectly fit operators' necessities and provide advanced overall project management services.

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