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Thursday, March 30, 2006

GSM operators can carry third-party gateway

REMMY NWEKE, in Abuja

CHIEF executive, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, has reassured the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators in the country that they are free to carry third-party gateway.

He made this clarification at the first ever GSM Africa Association’s conference and exhibitions holding at the International Conference Center, Abuja.

Responding to a request by the Vice Chairman, GSM Africa Association, Mr. Ogugua Chioke in his address to the occasion Tuesday, said that even in the published details of the Unified Licensing Regime (ULR) on March 1, this year, it was also indicated that GSM operators could carry third-party gateway.

Third-party gateway enables GSM operators to carry tariffs in quantity for other operators both locally and internationally.

Dr. Ndukwe who gave a keynote presentation on “The Convergence of Regulation: Moving from the Traditional Model towards Multi-service regulation,” said that the main concern of NCC presently is to make full services available to Nigerians and even operators as well.

Stressing that was why his office came up with the ULR to facilitate convergence in the system, which he said, involves freedom to innovative and expand networks as well as freedom to react fast to technology and market changes.

Extending services, he said, mostly to the rural and underserved part of the country is of very important to the government.

Emphasising that Africa does not have legacy networks, hence justifying the velocity of deregulation evolutions in the Nigerian telecom sector.

“Because Africa do not have legacy networks we need faster changes” to catch up.

According to him, the ULR has in it enough information indicating that GSM operators can offer third party services in the country and on their platform.

Just as he expressed hope that the new licensing era will achieve the desired empowerment of operators which is access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

In his keynote address, Communications Minister, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, said that there are about 1.8 billion mobile subscribers across 860 networks in 220 countries and regions of the world.

He noted that by 2010 more than 3 billion people, almost half the world’s population, will have access to mobile phones.

“Evidently, the growth of mobile lines have now out growth the fixed lines especially in developing countries where some 58 per cent of all mobile subscribers were located” he said.

Mobile market worldwide is forecast to generate over $529 billion in service revenue by 2010 and $80 billion in device revenue.

“This is partly because mobile telephony has now become an indispensable tool used by the rich and the poor, the young and elderly and for business as well as for leisure” the minister said.

The good news according to him, is that in every country on the continent, this gap of digital divide is closing fast.

Indeed, he said, whereas the United Nations (UN) has set a goal of 50 per cent mobile access by 2015, a new report from the world notes that 77 per cent of the world’s population already live within the range of mobile networks.

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