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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

ICT: Shaky start, glorious ending (1)


The year 2009 started on a shaky note but ended gloriously, reports REMMY NWEKE in this review.



THE Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector started on what some industry observers described as a shaky note in view of the fracas that erupted between Multimesh Communications Limited and the National Copyrights Commission (NCC).

It was disclosed that the misunderstanding was against the backdrop of the alleged piracy by Entertainment Highway Limited, right owners of the English Premiere League (EPL) and operators of HiTV, over rebroadcast rights.

Multimesh threatened Copyright Commission with court action:
This resulted in Multimesh threatening to drag NCC and HiTV to court, for unlawfully, and forcefully damaging its transmission equipment worth millions of Naira.

Multimesh, a Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS) operator. which hinges on wireless telecommunications offerings to deploy its Television (Tv) broadcasting. The company in a petition by its chief executive officer, Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa, dated January 8, 2009 and addressed to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Mike Aondaokaa insisted that the raid by NCC was illegal.

Weeks later, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) led by its Director General, Mr. Yomi Bolarinwa, intervened and brought the misunderstanding to rest at a meeting held at the NBC’s headquarters in Abuja. its officials led by the Director General, Mr. Yomi Bolarinwa, extracted an agreement from the feuding parties, just as it was established that a contract had earlier existed between the two organisations since 2007.

This, industry observers, said gave credence to the claims by Multimesh that what transpired was a business dispute and not a case of piracy.

Omatek consolidates e-Xpress scheme:
Following this soon after was the plans by one of the nation’s Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Omatek Plc to consolidate its e-learning initiative in the country, tagged Omatek e-Xpress programme, which would act as a one-stop shop, to ensure that ICT tools are readily deployed to schools and classrooms under a carefully structured learning environment.

“That is equipped with our 8” and 10” computers; internet connection to create virtual connectivity between students and teachers or lecturers. It also involves the deployment of a robust content and curriculum development,” Mrs. Florence Seriki, the group managing director of Omatek said.

The internet connectivity via the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) technology, she said, would offer hotspots around the schools, “thus creating an enabling environment for teachers and students to deploy their Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) for connectivity.”

… Unveils smart notebooks:
This development came as Omatek Plc, unveiled its latest and advanced version of smart notebooks, the eight and 10 inches categories. She said, the eight and 10 inches notebooks were initially manufactured for pupils, but demands spurred her company to advance on the qualities and features of the smart notebooks to be optimally useful for even the working class who want to look smart and still be mobile.

She noted that the initial batch of 8 and 10 inches notebook from Omatek has the same specifications, their hard-disc sizes have improved from 216 to 512 and from 512 to 1 Gigabytes. Whereas the batteries are normal computer batteries such that could last up to an hour or more, while the weight is lighter than before with strong Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) presence.

Epson opens office:
This is coming as Eposon opened its office in the country in the first quarter with a target of N592 million, according to the Accounts Manager, Epson Corporation, South Africa, Mr. Shaun Robinson, the company is targeting in 2009 financial year the sum of $4 million, (about N592m) from the Nigerian market.

Responding to questions at the ‘Exceed Your Vision’ seminar in Lagos, organized in collaboration with its main distributor in the country, Technology Distribution (TD) West Africa Limited, Mr. Robinson declared “our target for this year in Nigeria is $4 million.”

Just as the General Manager, Marketing at TD, Mrs. Chioma Chimere assured that given the avalanche of her company’s outlet through the dealers and resellers in the West African region, they would be equal to the task.

FOSS is truly free!
As the first quarter advances, Finland-based Nigerian Chief Technology Officer of WoodGong Communications, Mr. Sunny Odum advocated for the adaptation of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in the country, insisting that it’s truly free.

“Free and Open Source is truly what the name implies,” he said, stressing that in a developing country like Nigeria, there is need to tap into FOSS in order to alleviate poverty. Emphasizing that in the developing world it’s so scared to copy technologies from the developed world, “… Are we also not capable of using FOSS that we are even encouraged to rip and use, hook, line and sinker?” he wondered.

Speaking while presenting a paper recently on “Global Economic Turmoil, Free and Open Source Software and Nigerian Information Technological Development” made available to ITRealms Online, Odum said that people in the developing country like Nigeria needs not pay a dime on software if they adopt, adapt and develop FOSS.

FG, China enter deal return of NigComSAT-1:
Equally, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and its Chinese counterpart reached a deal on the replacement of the nation’s failed NigComSAT-1, which was de-orbited early November 2008, even as the provisional completion date for the substitution satellite to return to orbit is this first quarter of 2010.

ITRealms Online gathered that in order to guard against lack of back-up in future, the Chinese authorities have reached another deal with Nigeria to split the NigComSAT-2 and 3 into phases, which is expected to mitigate the effect of any eventuality as regards to the satellite failure in the future.

Thus, China agreed on a phase out plan for the unleashing of NigComSat-2 and 3, which would be built into the new deal as part of strategies to avoid the dilemma faced by NigComSat-1 customers when the solar panel of Africa’s first communication satellite failed in November 2008.

ATCON urges work on NigComSAT-2:
The umbrella body of telecommunications companies in the country, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), described the failed Nigerian Communications Satellite-1 (NigComSAT-1) as a technical tragedy, and urged the Federal Government (FG) to commence work on NigComSat-2.

National President ATCON, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, said that there is urgent need for the nation to start the processes on NigComSAT-2 immediately on learning about the failure of NigComSAT-1, which was reportedly parked after developing charging fault, prior to November 10, 2008 when the government owned up.

Ekuwem said that Nigeria must start process toward the actualization of the NigComSAT-2 without further delay and advised that before then, government must truly unravel the cause of the failure of NigComSAT-1, warning that the incident should not deter the government from investing in future satellite projects.

“No nation shies away from challenges. We should proceed to NigComSAT-2 provided we unravel the cause of the failure of NigComSAT-1,” he said.

Main One, Pioneer Consulting in strategy deal:
One of the Nigeria’s cable service provider, MainOne Cable Company Limited in the year just ended entered a deal with a United States-based telecommunications consulting, engineering and market research firm, Pioneer Consulting.

Chief executive officer, Main One Cable, Ms. Funke Opeke, said the consulting firm was hired as an integral part of the Main One management team, to supervise the implementation of the network. “It will provide expert advice while tracking the design, engineering and implementation of the project,” she said. While the Managing Partner, Pioneer Consulting, Mr. Howard Kidorf, was optimistic his team would deliver on the project.

Zain produces 20 millionaires @ Valentine promo:
Also, Zain Nigeria in the first quarter of 2009 introduced a Valentine Millionaire promo which produced 20 subscribers on the network within one month. With the concept of at least, 5 millionaires per week, the promo, the telco said, was designed to give many Nigerians and especially subscribers on Zain network a lift financially, despite the current global meltdown. It was introduced to provide people with the wherewithal to celebrate Valentine Day, as said by the Head, Corporate Communications, Zain Nigeria, Mr. Emeka Oparah.

1m handsets lost annually:
One revelation that took front seat in the year just ended was the proclamation that telecommunications subscribers in the country lost an estimated 1 million mobile phones annually, according to the chief executive officer, NetVisa GSMSecured Nigeria Limited, Prince Emeka Uchendu.

Uchendu, who gave this insight in Lagos while preparing for the commissioning of the nation’s Central Equipment Identity Registry (CEIR), as President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was billed to perform the official launch on Tuesday, January 27, 2009, at the Yar’Adua Conference Centre, Abuja, the federal capital territory. He assured that registration of stolen phones would be free-of-charge.

He confirmed that the initiative conceived by the government through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), received the blessings of the global operators group, the GSM Association (GSMA) and Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) among others.

Uchendu said that the commissioning would pave the way for the full implementation of the project by all mobile operators in the country, through enabling telecom operators to be wary of stolen phones and block same when eventually it is appropriately reported by their owners.


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