" ITREALMS: April 2006


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Friday, April 28, 2006

ONYEKWERE: Stickler for IT excellence

By Remmy Nweke

At a first contact, his frame may be intimidating and he could pass for one of the superfluous, unassuming folks around. But Mr Chima Onyekwere, calm as a lamb and humble as a butterfly, is one personality who like a rare gem, cannot be ignored. He is the chief executive of the premier Internet Service Provider (ISP) firm, Linkserve Limited.

A geologist, he is also the founder of SAAP-TECH (Nigeria) Limited and Dealers Warehouse Limited, and also is on the board of numerous companies at various levels of management, including Dealers Warehouse Limited. They all deal with the promotion of Information Technology (IT). Little wonder he is better referred to as a professional and technology entrepreneur.

Currently a member of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) and also that of Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria, Onyekwere is acknowledged as a visionary in the industry.

He made history in 1996, when he registered Linkserve as Nigeria’s first ISP. Although the company did not commence operation till 1997, and he has stamped his footprints over the years on the IT sector, like a beautiful bride who nobody can forget her beauty in a haste, Onyekwere has secured himself a place in the hall of fame of IT professionals.

A Geologist cum Geophysicist, Onyekwere is an alumnus of the University of Ife, Lagos Business School (CEP3) and Harvard Business School (Owner President Management Programme).

Expansion is the soul of any progressive business. And in line with this philosophy, Onyekwere is presently occupied with the expansion of the services Linkserve offers into the Sub-Saharan Africa; spearheading the firm’s challenge for the West African satellite communications market, and leading what some stakeholders would describe as “a highly motivated team of top-notch professionals.”

His journey into the IT world did not start today. His philosophy has basically been the provision of Internet solutions amongst other information technology businesses, through an indigenous company, which operates with an Internet Protocol (IP) connection, offering full services to the public on real time.

Under him, Linkserve has become a leading firm with a clientele base that cuts across financial institutions, foreign missions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the oil sector, government establishments, manufacturing sector and trading concerns; a firm that measures its foresight by the number of subscribers, customer satisfaction and profitability.
It also has her own hub in Homdel, New Jersy, United States, with a 15 Megabit (mb) installed bandwidth capacity supporting its Ku-Band customers.

Onyekwere has ensured that the firm’s three (3) Point-of-Presence (POP) locations in the country have installed massive Internet infrastructure with multiple connections to the Internet at an international bandwidth of 8.5mb.

He has also ensured that corporate values and principles operate at low cost as a way of life. Mr. Onyekwere is a stickler for excellence, constantly innovating to deliver superior values to customers who are treated as kings.

Onyekwere’s hunger for diversity is rapacious. That explains the presence of Linkserve in the Garden city of Port Harcourt with POP facilitating direct Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) access to the Internet.

In Abuja the POP in that city has a direct VSAT access to the Internet, just as Mr. Onyekwere’s leadership plans to integrate the trio together via satellite, while sharing a total bandwidth of 1 mega bit per second (mbps) for the uplink and 2.5mbps for the downlink.

Onyekwere, an advocate for the establishment of an arbitration panel in preparation of settling likely disputes emanating from the Unified Licensing Regime (ULR), is one person who sees unified licensing as a welcome scheme.

He believes that setting up such a panel is a key to the smooth implementation of unified licensing in the country, and will ensure that such issues as interconnect are resolved on a timely basis and situations of disconnection among operators would not arise as well as reduce some of the problems that might result from interconnect disputes during the new regime.

Concerning the deregulation of the industry in Nigeria today, it is Onyekwere’s belief that for a vibrant telecom industry to emerge and be enjoyed to the fullest, the deregulation drive should be sustained if not further pushed up to ensure ATCON’s membership evolves modern technologies in their deployment of services.

This would undoubtedly, place the nation in leapfrogging status rather than trying to catch-up with the rest of the world.

*Also published in Daily Champion today, as ICON.

Glo unveils me2u, clocks 6.7m subscriber

By Remmy Nweke

Not done yet, the Second National Operator (SNO), Globacom, has unveiled a new product for its subscribers known as me2u. This is coming as Glo’s subscribers have reached over 6.7 million.

The latest in Glo’s shelf is an airtime sharing formula among its subscribers without any cost to the sender or receiver.

Announcing this in Lagos Thursday, the Chief Operating Officer, New Markets, Mr. Okon Iyanam, said that with me2u, Glo subscribers would now send airtime from available credit on their prepaid accounts to one another.

This, he said, does not require the sender to buy a different recharge card as long as such a subscriber has already existing credit on his or her phone.

According to him, this new product was to address the need of subscribers who may wish to send airtime to their dependants but are unable to do so except through buying a recharge card previously, but could now send the 14 digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) to the beneficiaries.

Me2u, Mr. Iyanam explained offers an easy and convenient way of transferring airtime from one phone to another, thus underscoring the network’s commitment to the provision of world class telecommunication products and services.

“A lot of subscribers often have the need to send credit to relations, friends and loved ones but cannot do this because they are unable to buy recharge cards and send the PIN immediately,” he said.

Stressing that before now this kind of transfer or sharing of credit has been very difficult.

Special feature of the new offer, he said, avails customers to share airtime credit with their friends and relations without restriction on card denomination from their phones at any place or time.

The minimum airtime sharable in this platform, he said, is N50, noting that any Glo subscriber intending to receive a me2u credit transfer must however have validity on his or her account before he could use the transferred credit.

“If he does not have credit, the sender of the credit can also buy and send validity at N5 per day to him, for a maximum of 10 days,” he said.

To activate me2u subscriber is required to call Glo customer care line on 121 or send the message ‘ACT’ through a Short Messaging Service to 131.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Challenges before ATCON

Features of the week:

Members of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) weekend, elected some crop of new officers to lead them for the next two years. REMMY NWEKE examines in this report the challenges before the new leadership.

After several postponements, ATCON eventually held its annual general meeting corresponding with a general election, leading to the emergence of new set of executives.

All things being equal, the new executive would remain in office until 2008 when another election is expected.

The election conducted under the eagle eyes of the chief executive of Telecom Answers Associates/The Executive Cyberschuul, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu-led five-man electoral committee were made up of Mr. Aliyu Odusu of General Telecom, Mr. Akinlabi Osugun of Siemens Nigeria, Mr. Chukwudi Ebere Nweke of Best Communications and Ms Ifeoma Nwokike of Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTel).

The outcome of the election saw the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Teledom Group, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem-led executive mounting the saddle of leadership.

His election came after a tie with major contender for same position, Chief Chima Onyekwere of Linkserve Limited, of which they initially scored 18 votes apiece.

But following a repeat of the voting process, Dr. Ekuwem came top with three votes to make a difference over the 16 votes scored by Chief Onyekwere.

Also elected into the Ekuwem’s team is Mr. Bayo Banjo of Discom as the first Vice President, Mr. Gerry Ekesinai as second Vice President and Mr. Babajide Odekunle who was returned unopposed as the national secretary.

Mr. Banjo also contested with Mrs. Nkoli Muoka of EiL Telecom and won with 26 votes against 10, while Mr. Remi Okunlola, formerly coordinator, Consulting Group who initially sought nomination to the national secretary position but had to withdraw for a higher stake in the first vice president, prior to Banjo’s nomination, eventually lost out following another tactical withdrawal he made at the last minute.

Equally in the new executive of ATCON that emerged weekend is Mrs Adeyinka Adeyegbe who was returned as Treasurer, while Messrs Sunday Gbenjo, Yinka Okoture, and Akinbiyi Oloko were elected as sub-group co-ordinators for the Customer Equipment Dealers, Consulting and Manufacturing in that order, while Chief Ezekiel Fatoye of MultiLink retained his position in the Licensed Telephone Operator among others.

Established on December 10, 1993, ATCON has as its objectives to bring together under one umbrella, all companies in the field of telecommunications and auxiliary services for the purpose of achieving meaningful development in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria.

ATCON would strive to actively promote organized private sector participation in the expansion of the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure, so as to encourage professionalism and evolve adequate training programmes for the personnel engaged in the industry.

As well, it speaks formally for the members of the group and co-operate with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in ensuring effective and efficient co-ordination and regulation of telecommunications services in the country.

And as the new exco adjusts themselves into their respective positions, there seems to be an avalanche of challenges awaiting them including those members with divergent views on several issues in the sector.

Top on the agenda would be the following to logical conclusion the mysteries surrounding the death of the group’s immediate past president, Chief Charles Alaba Joseph, who was murdered in active service, last September 15.

Also to ensure that the foundation, which came out of late Chief Joseph’s burial contributions with a balance of N428,000, which the immediate National Executive Council (NEC) earmarked for the institution of a foundation with the approval of his family, takes off as expected.

Taxation and NICOMM:
Worthy of note is the need to resuscitate ATCON members’ interest in its annual international telecommunications seminars, workshops and exhibitions under the aegis of Nigerian International Communication (NICOMM), in addition to positioning itself as an international event.

According to the Vice Chairman African Global Systems for Mobile (GSM) Association, Mr. Ogugua Chioke, these agencies see telcos especially GSM operators as elephants that needed downsizing from all ramifications; be it installation of mast and laying of pipes across the roads.

As much the kind of vibrancy being enjoyed by stakeholders as the industry deregulate should be sustained if not further pushed up to ensure its membership evolves modern technologies in their deployment of services. This would no doubt place the country in leapfrogging state rather than trying to catch-up with the rest of the world.

“Our approach will be to use this strategy to influence government policies to ensure a fair and transparent competing environment,” Onyekwere declared.

Taking this step, therefore, would amount to encouraging its members to take interest in the body politics of the nation and its day-to-day running to eschew what is being experienced now whereby foreign IT bill, for instance, is being renamed for the nation’s environment without due process and thought.

Opitimising ULR:
This, to a very large extent would move the industry and nation generally forward, especially now that the Unified Licensing Regime (ULR) is here with us; its viability would depend on ATCON’s involvement and activeness of its members in making good use of this option, which for a long time has been clamoured for by stakeholders.

Then, come the issue of interconnection, which must be put to rest to shun bickering among members while that of indebtedness by members must be brought to a roundtable to be resolved once and for all, whereas telcos should thrive to keep to deals made afterwards.

Education and SMEEIS fund
Education of stakeholders via seminars and workshops should not be taken for granted but seriously to avail them especially members of ATCON the opportunity of tapping first hand the values attached to the ULR and the need to reintegrate their operations to become comfortable to today’s Nigerian telecommunications end-users.

Thereby encouraging those who still shy away from belonging to ATCON to take the front row in its activities.

According to him, fund would be driven from the Small and Medium Enterprises Equity Investment Scheme (SMEEIS) which is worth billions of Naira but are lying untapped and made up of 10 per cent after tax deductions from enterprises in the country.

Facilitation of soft-loans would also be a bold effort at made-in-Nigeria facilities to be used in the industry during this tenure as promised, even as working towards establishing a good percentage of SMEIS funds to be zoned to telecom industry would be an added value.

As such, stakeholders fora made up of ATCON, NCC and banks should be organized for the co-option of these agencies, while stimulating modalities for partnerships. Most especially tapping into its patronship of Mr. Jim Ovia of Zenith Bank International and member of Nigerian Bankers Committee.

Broadband availability:
ITRealms Online recalled that Dr. Ekuwem also said that his passion for affordability and availability of broadband, drove him to contest for the top-most position, therefore ATCON should be able to tap from his experiences in broadband-based Information and Communication Technology (ICT) deployment, which he declared should form part of the fundamental human rights of the citizenry.

The Ekuwem-led team should continue from where the immediate leadership of late Alaba Joseph and Alhaji Adamu M. Yahaya stopped, as noted by the re-elected national secretary, Mr. Odekunle in his report of the NEC for the last two years, so as to make ATCON the envy of other sub-regional telecommunications organizations by strengthening its secretariat both with relevant manpower development and positioned as authority at various levels of telecommunications.

Thereby increasing the revenue of the group from its present mere cash at hand of N112,671 as at March 31, as well as increasing its membership from just 36 as purportedly accredited during the election.

Like the late president Joseph canvassed and which was further stressed by Mr. Odekunle in a tribute to his late boss, “While we are pursing a Unified Licensing Regime, let us also reflect on the potentials of having a Unified Telecommunications Industry” so that even if nothing else, for the sake of Charles Joseph and stakeholders at large, backed by his able first vice president, Mr. Bayo Banjo, Dr. Ekuwem’s team expects loyalty of stakeholders as the new president hopes to live up to expectation, promising an open-door leadership, and plans to co-opt his rival during the election, Chief Onyekwere, to ensure that progressive steps are taken in reformation of the group and Nigerian telecom sector in its entirety.

HP unveils 9 printers, 3 projectors in W.African market

Remmy Nweke

IN an intimidating market drive, Information Technology (IT) hardware giant, Hewlett Packard (HP), has unveiled a total of nine printers and three digital projectors in its kitty for the West African markets.

The new products cut across printers for small businesses and home users as well as for colour and monochrome end users.

These include three HP Laserjet, four Officejet and two HP colour Laserjet series in that order as well as two HP XP 7000 digital projectors and one mp digital projector.

ITRealms Online investigations revealed that this serves as one of its biggest launch at a go since the HP bought over Compaq over three years ago. Nigeria is the headquarters of HP West Africa.

Speaking at the unveiling, Sales Lead, Imaging and Printing Group at HP West Africa, Mr. Victor Diali informed that on the shelf, there are three Laserjet printers in the series of 1018, 5200 and 3390, while the four Officejet series popularly called “All-in-One” consist of 4315, 5355, 6313 and 6310, even as the HP Colourjet series on display at the launch comprised of 2605 and 1600 modules.

He also said that three digital projectors introduced were the HP XP 7000 coming in the form of XP 7010 and 7030 digital projectors respectively, in addition to what he described as impressive mp 3322 digital projector.

Further, Mr. Diali said that HP’s desire to keep Nigerians abreast of technology paved the way for the introduction of new product line up, which he tagged “New Product Introduction (NPI)” within the Imaging and Printing Group (IPG).

HP, he said, has recognized the import of carrying along the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the nation’s economic growth, which gave rise to the avalanche of products to be introduced in the region and precisely in Nigeria.

“The core Nigeria’s economy is made up of small and medium-size businesses,” he noted, stressing that latest products line-up from HP come with introductory turner cartridge to help users get going once they purchase these products.

Additionally, he explained, for instant that the Laserjet 1018 printers now come with ‘instant on’ when switched on rather than what obtained previously whereby printers take between three and five minutes to warm-up before processing any job sent for printing.

"It’s an instant on and produces its first print out in seconds,” he declared, emphasizing that it’s duty circle is 3,000 pages per month with a hi-speed for Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 port.

On the HP colour Laserjet 1600 and 2605 series, the Sales Lead said that colour printing makes the world go round in digital imaging.

According to Mr. Diali accompanied by the Marketing Consultant, Ms Ijeoma Onyiuke and Technical Consultant, Mr. Francis Angbo both of HP, the IT firm endeavours to have printers at various stages and series to cushion any gap emanating from income disparities of the end-users, mostly looking at the Least Developing Countries (LDCs) of which most West African nations fall in.

For the Officejet 4315 All-in-one, he said, its an ultra-compact device that is ideal for home and small office professionals, with capability to print 20 pages automatically, just as it could be deployed to stop ‘junk fax mails’.

On the HP Xp 7000 digital projector series, he said, these were produced with about 3500 lumens, which ensures clarity of data and graphics and a digital light product (DLP) technology, stressing these range are ideal for IT managers in the public sector, enterprises and medium sized firms; providing projector tools among others.

He went on to assure of HP’s readiness to provide the support services on all its products, noting that these products were as a result of customers demands for more features, hence HP has to improve always as these demands come, yet making its products affordable.

“If technology becomes cheaper, there is no need waiting for years before advancing on products which is already on ground,” he submitted.

Omo-Ettu tasks new ATCON exco

Remmy Nweke

CHAIRMAN of the five-man Electoral Committee at this year’s Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) general election and chief executive of Telecom Answers Associates Limited, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, has tasked the newly elected National Executive Council (NEC) of the group over repositioning of the body to serve as think-tank for technology studies and industry trends.

He also said that ATCON should be able to prescribe where the industry is moving to both in the short and long terms projections.

ATCON, he noted, should use its position as a private-sector-based catalyst in collective resources of the association to consistently strive to meet the challenges facing stakeholders.

Speaking shortly before his appointment as the chairman, Electoral Committee for 2006, Mr. Omo-Ettu, told ITRealms Online exclusively that in charting a new course for ATCON, whoever emerges president and indeed members of the NEC, should reposition the group to become an intellectual power-house for the industry.

“That is to say it (ATCON) should be more of an intellectual power-house than a mere protector of the commercial interest of its current members,” he advised.

The 2006 electoral boss pointed out that the association has a structure that could be used to create veritable strong sub-sector units to proffer immediate solutions to industry challenges, while the main body would have the opportunity of taking headlong the bigger picture of the future of the body without compromise.

“I see the structure of its operation as flexible enough to permit for the emergence of very strong sub-sector units, while ATCON looks at the big picture and far into the future without necessarily compromising the immediate and current necessities,” he declared.

According to him, ATCON has come of age and grown beyond mere resolving of members’ day-to-day operational problems in a unionist way, which means reacting to whatever emerges and striving to resolve same nagging issues.

Mr. Omo-Ettu, who also is the chief executive, The Executive Cyberschuul Lagos, described it as an elementary level of industrial evolution.

“I think this should be the platform for both the unionist and the professional methods to thrive side by side,” he asserted.

Maintaining that ATCON naturally should be a professional platform, thus its input into policy initiative should command stakeholders and government’s respect.

“Its input into policy initiatives must be respectable and compelling that it should be a credible partner to the government of the day,” he said.

Mr. Omo-Ettu further expressed appreciation to those who have offered to serve ATCON in the NEC capacity.

“I also think it is not only the president’s position that is being contested but other positions too should be regarded as very important. And we can only thank those who have offered themselves for service at all levels,” he concluded.

SystemSpecs, Soft sign MoU on HumanManager

Remmy Nweke

Foremost Nigerian software company, SystemSpecs, has reaffirmed its brands proposition in the subregion with the endorsement of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Ghanaian, software house, TheSoftTribe.

Senior Manager, Marketing at SystemSpecs, Mr. Moses Braimah, disclosed this to ITRealms Online in his office and said that the deal would consolidate efforts and strategies focused on making HumanManager, the SystemSpecs Payroll and human resource manager-based solution to the Ghanaian environs.

He also explained that with the deal, TheSOFTtribe, popularly known as SOFT in Ghana, becomes an authorized partner of SystemSpecs for marketing, deployment and professional support of HumanManager in the country.

The solution is deployed and is enjoys wide market acceptability with over 200 organizations across Africa.

On the other hand, SOFT, he said, has over a decade of experience in the development, implementation and support of payroll/HRM solutions across the continent.

This, he noted, would see to further market penetration within its areas of coverage, having worked with over 160 entries in recent times.

According to him, following an exhaustive evaluation of some other respectable software, HumanManager was adjudged the most suitable option for the Ghanaian environment.

Emphasising that it was not surprising considering the striking similarities between the economic operation in Nigeria and Ghana.

He further said that the similarities of the deal is that both firms were founded in the same year – 1991, and founders voluntarily left comfortable jobs for the uncertainty of IT entrepreneurship in pre-Internet Africa.

The SOFT has in the last 15 years been in the business of developing and providing software solutions to government, private sector organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Ghana and beyond.

The firm was established by its chairman, Hermann Chinery-Hesse along with the chief executive, Mr. Joe Jackson, and other notable software practitioners.

SystemSpecs on the other hand, is a professionally managed, world-class business, financial and human capital management solutions provider based in Lagos with offices scattered over the core regions of the country.

Founded by Mr. John Obaro, SystemSpecs has emerged as a leading provider of these solutions for the Nigerian and larger African market.

Smart card central to retail banking – Chams

Remmy Nweke

Chams Nigeria Limited, has explained its choice of the Europay International, MasterCard International and Visa International, otherwise known as EMV, just as it said that smart card deployment is central to retail banking.

EMV was created in 1994 to give boost to smart card payment system in the country.

Chams through Mrs. Shola Omotayo and Goke Idris informed at the recent one-day open house seminar held in Lagos that the choice of EMV would avail the firm an added edge to take headlong the on-going reorganization and realignment of the banking and finance sector in the country.

Pointing out that this has created a major upheaval in the way banks deal with their customers and product offerings.

“With the smallest of the new twenty five banks having a minimum of twenty five billion Naira (N25B) as shareholders fund, it has become highly imperative and urgent for banks to bring retail banking into the forefront of their activities,” the firm said.

Noting that the days of heavy reliance on foreign exchange trading is over with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) now in position to monitor the fewer banks closely.

According to the Chams’ officials, smart card deployment is central to retailing banking via the issuance of debit and credit card to customers to enable them have access to their funds in the banks 24 by 7.

Static funds, the firm said, do not generate enough revenue as much as dynamic funds, which earn banks much more in charges.

Explaining that the easiest way to make these funds dynamic, generate additional revenues and create unprecedented convenience and comfort to consumers would be to issue cards to these customers.

With the current upsurge, Chams noted, unlike what have been witnessed in the past few months in card issuance, saying that the coming into the market of Valucard/Visa International, gave rise to its choice of EMV.

This, the company said was why they partnered with Datacard in presenting to the Nigerian market the various technologies and solution needed to address the issues of fraud, security and standards using EMV.

EMV was created as a joint industry working group solution, which first met back in 1994 to facilitate the introduction of chip as the replacement technology for credit and debit cards, replacing the traditional magnetic stripe.

Smart cards, the firm said allow for the introduction of stronger security counter measures, enabling offline Personal Identification Number (PIN) verification, provide the ability to support enhanced data and introduce new risk management capabilities.

EMV’s aim, therefore is to avail global-interoperability and ensure that chip based credit and debit cards could be used anywhere in the world.

Glo gives out cars to 10 winners, rated best by ITEdge

Remmy Nweke

First set of 10 winners of the Globacom’s 180 cars in 180 days promo, which emerged weekend, have all been presented their prizes, just as the Second National Operator (SNO) was rated the best by a study conducted by IT Edge and Next Technologies.

The presentation of Kia Picanto cars held at 15th National Sports Festival tagged Gateway Games 2006, marked its closure at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta Ogun State, was performed by Gov. Gbenga Daniel who lauded Globacom for making the event a memorable one for the winners, and he congratulated the lucky owners of new cars.

Accompanied at the event venue by the President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Gov Daniel set the venue agog with the presentation, as spectators could not hide their joy.

Some of the winners, including Chief Falilat Ogunkoya, a veteran track athlete and Chairman, Gateway Games technical sub-committee, and Mr. Churchill Oliseh, a lawyer, sports entrepreneur.

Other winners include a bricklayer, Mr. Solomon Akinbomi, a student of Tai Solarin University of Education, Seun Abdul, a farmer, Taiwo Anthony, an electrician, Ayoola Moroof and a clergy man, Mike Oduwole.

Also two students, Messrs Samuel Adebayo, Sunday Sodeinde, and another clergyman, Alagba Keinde, went home in their new Kia Picanto cars.

Excited Keinde told correspondents that God had disclosed to him to “…expect a miracle but I did not know it would come through Globacom … I am excited that Globacom is the tool God used to give me a brand new car.”

On her part, Falilat Ogunkoya, a Commonwealth gold medallist, said that she lost her phone and other valuables to armed robbers a few days before the Abeokuta draws and quickly bought a new Glo line, which eventually emerged the winning number. “God has used Globacom to restore what I lost to the robbers. I thank Glo for providing quality service to Nigerians at affordable rates”, she said.

Director of Communications at Globacom, Mr. Yinka Akande, said that the telco, as a true Nigerian company is reinvesting its revenue in the country to improve network quality and empower the citizenry, thus given credence to the various subscriber-friendly promos the initiative by the firm to reward them.

In addition to the ten cars already won, Globacom will be giving out 170 more cars and other juicy prizes in the next five months. Draws for the remaining cars will be held at the different regions of the federation.

However, in a related development latest audit of mobile telephone service providers in the country has rated Glo Mobile as the best Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operator in the country.

The survey results published in the March-April edition of IT Edge, a leading Information and Communication Technology (ICT) news magazine, indicated that Glo Mobile emerged top in the performance indices of the research carried out by IT Edge Intelligence Unit and Next Technology.

Glo Mobile which only started operations two years after the other GSM operators was placed first on the table with an overall score of 34 out of a maximum 45 points, while Vmobile had 32 points, MTN 25 and M-tel 14 points.

Out of the nine test categories used in assessing the performance of all the GSM companies, Glo Mobile emerged first in eight. These include signal strength, call drop, voice quality to downlink, voice quality to uplink, successful recharge, successful enquiry, Value Added Services (VAS) and call centre operations. The company came second in the ninth test category, call success rate.

Segun Oruame of IT Edge Intelligence Unit explained that the survey statistics were based on feedback obtained from subscribers across the networks as well as call centre operators. Next Technology also has a team of engineers which monitors network signal strengths.

Globacom’s overall success in service delivery and product innovation formed its deployment of enhanced second generation (2.5) technology, enabling the convergence of voice, data and multimedia technologies.

The robust platform not only ensures unparalleled voice clarity and low drop calls but also enables the offering of value added services unavailable on the 2G technology deployed by other operators.

Utomi to lead speakers @ Lagos NCS seminar

Remmy Nweke

Director of the Lagos Business School, Prof Pat Utomi is expected to be the lead speaker at the one-day seminar being put together by the Lagos chapter of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), next month.

Chairman of the chapter, Mr. James Agada of the ExpertEdge Software Systems Limited, disclosed this in Lagos at a media briefing held at conference hall of NCS national.

ITRealms Online recalls that following mandatory take off order by the NCS national for the state chapters to be active, the Lagos chapter has since repositioned, setting up its own executive body and held several meetings since January this year.

Mr. Agada also said that the seminar titled “Entrepreneur and IT: Managing Technology Business in an Emerging Economy” would be led by Prof. Utomi based on his passion for good service and poverty alleviation among others, just as he is an expert in entrepreneurship.

The benefit of the seminar to Lagos chapter members, he said, include sharing of latest information on Information Technology (IT) worldwide, foster professionalism for its membership which is the largest in the country as well as encourage students in universities, polytechnics, the spirit of academic knowledge in IT and as future professionals within the zone and initiate the spirit of self-reliance among members on entrepreneurship.

Joined at the briefing by the chapter vice chairman, Mr. Ladi Olajide of Interactive Data Systems Limited and Secretary, Mr. Kolawole Awonuga of NIIT Lagos, as well as the Executive Secretary of NCS, Mr. Ejide Oladunmoye, Mr. Agada said the aim of the chapter is to congregate the IT professionals within the state for the purpose of addressing common goals.

‘We have had five meetings till date. We discussed issue of immense benefits to members in IT sectors,” he declared, stressing that those expected at the seminar billed for MUSON Centre Onikan-Lagos would include its members from banking sector, heads of IT organisations, students of computer science in various schools, lecturers, educational training institutions of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in addition to those working at the public sector and related agencies, entrepreneurs and commissioner of science and technology.

He also said that the seminar scheduled to hold on May 22, would serve as a stepping stone for the four-day national conference of NCS scheduled to hold between June 13 and 16 in the northern region of Yola, Adamawa State.

Microsoft’s VP arrives, begins working visit

Remmy Nweke

The Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Corporation, Mr. Neil Holloway, would this week arrive Nigeria for a working visit.

Mr. Holloway, who also is the President, Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), would use the working visit to introduce the newly appointed Chairman of Microsoft for Africa, Dr Cheick Diarra who is joining Microsoft from the United Nations (UN) to the Nigerian market.

He would equally pay a courtesy call to the Presidency and meet with the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Turner Isoun, the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Malam Nasir El-Rufai and Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Nuhu Ribadu.

In addition, he would address a forum of Information Technology (IT) stakeholders in Abuja, tomorrow, Thursday, as well as, use the opportunity to announce Microsoft’s introduction of Windows XP Starter Edition for the continent.

Mr. Holloway in his capacity, leads Microsoft Corporation’s businesses throughout EMEA, and is a member of the worldwide Sales, Marketing and Services Group (SMSG) leadership team and the worldwide Consumer Leadership Team (CLT).

He focuses on the balanced objectives of driving customer satisfaction, improving integration across Microsoft business units, addressing the unique technology needs of diverse markets and growing the software business in the region.

Before assuming his role in 2005, Mr. Holloway had served as Corporate Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Services for EMEA, and has extensive field expertise establishing programmes that directly address customer and partner needs in the region.

His role include leading the business planning processes, enhancing field effectiveness and managing Microsoft’s sales and marketing efforts throughout the EMEA region.

Since joining Microsoft in 1990, Holloway has held a number of strategic roles in its UK subsidiary. He was appointed Managing Director of Microsoft Limited in July 1998 and subsequently the Vice President for Microsoft EMEA in April 2000.

Hitherto, Holloway was the Managing Director of Migent United Kingdom (UK), a company operating in the consumer and client server software markets sector.

He is passionate about demonstrating responsible leadership and delivering the highest level of customer experience.

Mr. Holloway has a Master’s of Philosophy in operational research and control engineering from Cambridge University and a first degree in Mathematics from Bath.

Samsung goes for VIA processor

Remmy Nweke

Samsung office in Taiwan has chosen VIA Technologies’ processor for its Microsoft-based Ultra Mobile Personal Computers (UMPCs).

This was disclosed at the recently ended CeBIT expo in Barcelona, Spain, at the launch of Microsoft’s UMPC product, according to Digitimes reports.

The choice of VIA processors by Samsung is expected to increase market share of Microsoft’s UMPC, through provision of the software and general reference designs for the products.

ITRealms Online gathered that this deal would facilitate about half the size of typical laptops, and offering different manufacturers the options of producing the hardware.

Samsung’s choice of UMPC will be one of the first to hit the market in the second half of 2006.

The device, which is expected to retail for about $700, will be embedded with VIA’s C7-M microprocessor and VX700 chipset.

Samsung took the decision to go with VIA for its cost effective processors, the report said.

Meanwhile, VIA has launched its PT890 chipset to broaden the range of Microsoft Windows Vista-ready core logic solutions available in the global Information Technology (IT) market.

Apart from providing support to the full range of Intel processors up to 1066 Mega Hertz (MHz) Front Side Bus (FSB), VIA PT890 provides an outstanding balance of system performance with high bandwidth Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) express connectivity, with advanced Double Data Rate of second generation (DDR2) memory supporting comprehensive feature set and solid reliability.

MEA is critical to LG – Kim

Remmy Nweke

Chief Executive of the Korean Information and Communication Technology (ICT) firm, LG Electronics, Mr. S.S. Kim, has declared that the Middle East and Africa is critical to the company’s global leadership.

He made this declaration while visiting Dubai for the second time in two years, Mr. Kim noted that the regions play a major role in LG Electronics’ strategy for global leadership in the consumer electronics industry.

According to him, the region-specific product innovation of LG would continue to inspire the ‘Life’s Good’ brand.

The LG chief also predicted that the firm’s Global System for Mobile (GSM) handset products for major growth in the MEA this year, replicates the digital leader’s dominance in the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) segment.

“Our success in the Middle East and Africa is remarkable. The construction boom and changing customer trends in a young and rapidly growing market are presenting big opportunities for the brand,” he said.

Stressing that LG aims to rank among the top three global electronics and communications companies, and even double its sales, profitability and shareholder value by 2010.

ITRealms Online recollects that LG Electronics registered worldwide sales of more than US$35 billion in 2005. The mobile communications, digital appliances, and display divisions each contributed around US$10 billion – and media products generated sales worth US$5.5 billion.

Equally, last year, LG maintained its world number one position for the CDMA handsets, residential air conditioners, Digital Video Display (DVD) players, optical storage devices, home theatre systems, and Televisions.

LG was also number two for PDP TVs and modules, with a market share of 15 and 27 per cent respectively.

“Our target for global sales in 2006 is over US$43 billion, and that’s 23 per cent growth compared to 2005. We expect US$14 billion to come from our display division, US$12 billion from mobile handsets, US$11 billion from digital appliances, and US$6 billion from the media business,” he asserted.

He therefore lauded LG’s regional team on their hardwork and business performance. “The Middle East and Africa have traditionally been important markets for air conditioners, but new product categories are also having a major impact. Demand for LCD and PDP TVs is very encouraging in both the commercial and domestic sectors, and combined sales increased by 75 per cent last year. We are also the number-one selling laptop brand in the UAE from specialist electronics stores.“But the biggest opportunity comes from GSM handsets. A lot of time has been spent building up our distribution channel in the region, and we are introducing an excellent, youthful new product line-up for our regional customers,” he pointed out.

MNet launches Edge of Paradise

Remmy Nweke

Leading Digital Satellite Television (DSTV) company, M-Net, has launched a new family home entertainment series, Edge of Paradise into the nation’s market.

Public Relations Manager at MultiChoice Nigeria, Mr. Segun Fayose, disclosed that the “one family… one home…one future!” is an hour weekly series for the next 26 weeks on M-Net.
To be streamed every Monday evening, Mr. Fayose informed that it revolves around a modern Nigerian family as they experience life’s triumphs, trials and tests.
Created by Femi Kayode and produced for M-Net by the Nigerian production company of Royal Roots, headed up by Gregory and Debbie Odutayo, Edge of Paradise looks at contemporary issues facing Africans.
“From unemployment, injustice and adversity to education, equality and the search for identity, the series is a stirring look at one family’s attempt to navigate their world” he said.
As said by Allison Triegaardt, M-Net Head of Content for Sub-Saharan Africa, Edge of Paradise is relevant viewing for audiences looking for authentic African family viewing.
“This series is wholly built around a fundamental concept of African life – the idea that family is the cornerstone of our world. The sense of community and of unity created by families is a belief that resonates for Africans everywhere. M-
Net recognized the need to tell the story of an African family and committed to it.”
Edge of Paradise begins when father of three, Emeka Anyanwu loses his job. Now faced with the task of raising his children and finding employment, Emeka and his wife Asabe must come to terms with the new battles ahead. And as their father tries to find a means to support his family, his children Dozie, Obinna and Adaora take on their own personal challenges.
For teenage son Dozie, fresh out of school and with a passion for football, questions about the future abound.
Meanwhile pretty daughter Adaora begins to understand the intricacies of young love whilst clever, youngest born Obinna learns to deal with schoolroom struggles.

At the heart of the family though is Asabe. Mother, wife and friend, she is the dynamic centre of the Anyanwu home. A teacher by profession, she guides, supports and persuades her family into striving for a better life.
Criticized by a mother-in-law who has never understood her son’s decision to marry outside of his ethnic group and driven by a need to provide the best home possible, Asabe is a ferocious protector of her family’s future.

Globacom links PHCN offices nationwide

By Remmy Nweke

Second National Operator (SNO) Globacom has linked all the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) offices nationwide.

This follows an understanding between Glo and PHCN for the telco to deploy its state of the art “telemonitoring” facilities to enable the power company check power usage via wireless technology.

Powered by the Globacom’s enhanced second generation (2.5G) technology, the new internal communications system come with International Direct Dialing (IDD) capability and calls are connected through the least cost route possible, thereby reducing the company’s total communications expenditure.

With this arrangement, customers could call a single Glo number and would be connected to the Glo/PHCN switchboard from where it would be linked to any staff member they may wish to speak with.

Executive Director at Globacom, Mr. Mike Jituboh, while announcing the development Tuesday in Abuja, said that in addition to the Private Automatic Branch Exchange (PABX) network which is a fixed line facility, Globacom is packaging Glo Mobile Subscriber Identification Modules (SIMs) for PHCN staff.

He said that the SIMs and a comprehensive directory of all PHCN telephone lines will also be released to the power company soon.

Commending on the package, Managing Director of PHCN, Mr. Joseph Makoju, disclosed that 32 lines have been dedicated to the public for customer relations purposes nationwide under this arrangement.

He also announced the base number, from which other PHCN lines could be reached, as 08050184000.

The chief executive further said that communications is very vital to a power company as it helps in securing the system and improves operational effectiveness, expressing delight that Globacom has made such critical communication easy and less expensive for the company.

“We can now communicate with distant locations without stress. For example, we can reach our staff at the Kainji power station from anywhere” Makoju said, stressing that communication at this point is even more crucial to the PHCN at this time that the company is being unbundled, considering that the staff would have to keep in touch with the various component parts of the of the organisation.

He congratulated Globacom for the big strides it is taking in communications revolution in Nigeria, “Glo is setting the pace and every Nigerian is proud that Glo is a Nigerian company” A demonstration of the Glo/PHCN internal communications network was held before newsmen at the PHCN headquarters in Abuja.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ekuwem emerges ATCON president, promises all-inclusive leadership

Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Teledom Group of Companies, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, has emerged the new president of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), which last for the next two years.

Ekuwem, who also is the immediate past president of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) who relinquished office after first term, which ended last November, promised to run an all-inclusive administration during his time in office.

The tenure of the new exco would last for two years but they have the right to contest or be elected for third term individually in a particular office, according to the constitution of the body.

Dr. Ekuwem's election came after a tie with major contender for that position, Chief Chima Onyekwere of Linkserve Limited, of which they initially scored 18 votes each.

But following a repeat, Dr. Ekuwem came top with three votes to make a difference over the 16 votes scored by Chief Onyekwere during the second voting exercise.

Also elected into the Ekuwem's team is Mr. Bayo Banjo of Discom as the first Vice President, Mr. Gerry Ekesinai as Second Vice President and Babajide Odekunle was returned unopposed as the national secretary.

Equally in the new executive of ATCON that emerged Friday, Mrs Adeyinka Adeyegbe was returned as Treasurer, while Messrs Sunday Gbenjo and Yinka Okoture, Akinbiyi Oloko were elected as sub-group co-ordinators for the Customer Equipment Dealers, Consulting and Manufacturing in that order, while Chief Ezekiel Fatoye of MultiLink retained his position in the Licensed Telephone Operator among others.

In his acceptance speech, Dr. Ekuwem lauded members of the organization for turning out for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) which culminated into the election presided over by the Chief Executive, Telecom Answers Associates, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu-led five-man electoral committee; namely Aliyu Odusu of General Telecom, Akinlabi Osugun of Siemens Nigeria, Chukwudi Ebere Nweke of Best Communications and Ms Ifeoma Nwokike of Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTel).

He also assured of running an open-door policies even as promising to co-opt his rival during the election, Chief Onyekwere, to ensure that progressive steps are taken in reformation of the group.

Established on December 10, 1993, ATCON has as its objectives to bring together under one umbrella, all companies in the field of telecommunications and auxiliary services for the purpose of achieving meaningful development in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria.

In addition, ATCON would strive to actively promote organized private sector participation in the expansion of the nation's telecommunications infrastructure, so as to encourage professionalism and evolve adequate training programmes for the personnel engaged in the industry.

As well it would speak formerly for the members of the group and co-operate with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in ensure effective and efficient co-ordination and regulation of telecommunications services in the country. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Battle for ATCON president hots up

Features of the week:

Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), is set to elect new leadership. REMMY NWEKE who has been closely watching events as the campaigns hot up, reports.

Since the passing away of the immediate past president of ATCON, Chief Charles Alaba Joseph, a lot of water seems to have passed under the bridge. This situation could only be remedied with the finding of a good replacement, although the tenure of the late Joseph ended last quarter, he had promised not to elongate his term before his untimely death.

Despite the fact that ATCON constitution allow for a third term in office, it is pertinent that its members search very well among their folks or to use the local parlance, ‘shine your eyes’ so as to ensure that the election did not simply go through but is successful after suffering series of postponements. The latest of which is that of March 31 from when it was shifted to Friday, April 21.

There are several contenders, which have since been scaled down to two, viz the chief executive, premier Internet Service Provider (ISP) firm, Linkserve, Mr. Chima Onyekwere, and Executive Vice Chairman, Teledom Group International, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem.

ATCON is an umbrella body of registered telecommunications companies and service providers within the sector in the country. Founded on December 10, 1993, ATCON serves as a platform for cross-industry exchange of ideas and experiences through annual Nigerian International Communication exhibition and conferences (NICOMM).

Following the practical deregulation of telecommunications sector in year 2000, the body has been very active in terms of taking part in charting a new future for stakeholders, even as acting as a voice for the sector as well as helping to shape the policy framework of the regulations aspect of the industry.

In addition, ATCON tends to educate its members towards rapid growth of the sector.

Contenders’ Xray
As the coast gets clearer it is worth to pre-examine the two contestants based on stakeholders’ expectations and potentials of individual achievements as well as their contributions in recent times.

Chima Onyekwere is a renowned investor and consultant with some major firms on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) including the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST).

He had served on the board of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), and a top notcher of the Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN).

Also known for not being partisan or keen on occupying political positions over a decade of founding his Linkserve, Mr. Onyekwere lately turned a new leaf given the element of support he gave to the Corporate Affairs and Marketing Manager at Linkserve, Mrs. Ufuma ‘Daro, who emerged as the Vice President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), last December.

It was however, believed in some quarters amidst stakeholders that he has something up the sleeves and barely five months later, Mr. Onyekwere is being touted as a possible occupant of the position of national president of ATCON.

However, he seems to have a handful, as his major contender in the race is the immediate past president of NIG, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, who had served previously as the vice president of NIG under Mr. Jim Ovia’s regime, before emerging President in 2003.

Dr. Ekuwem overtime has been an active player in the ICT industry and precisely ATCON, having served as Group Coordinator, rappartour and factually consistent with the CEO’s forum annually organized by ATCON.

He was bestowed with the National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) award in 2001 by President Olusegun Obasanjo, for his contributions to nation building and had also received the IT and Telecom Personality of the year award 2004, whereas in 2005, got the Nigerian Institute of Physics (NIP) award in commemoration of Albert Einstein’s Centenary award for excellence, even as he was presented with ATCON’s National Telecom Merit Award in the year 2004.

He had given talks on various policy issues that facilitated the moving of the industry forward and has been equally a consultant to NCC and FMST, National IT Development Agency (NiTDA), as well as the Akwa-Ibom State government on IT.

ITRealms Online gathered that he was instrumental to recent Memorandum of Understanding between Akwa-Ibom and two Chinese firms for manufacturing of telephone handsets locally, due to commence before the end of this year.

Dr. Ekuwem is known as being instrumental also to the creation of Akwa-Ibom State Economic Empowerment Strategies, which has since been replicated in the localities of the state. In addition, it was during his tenure that the issue of Top Level Domain (TLD) of Nigeria was subtly brought to rest on the shoulders of Nigerians, given birth to the Nigeria Internet Registration Authority (NiRA).

Ekuwem is known for being pragmatically visible at both local and major international ICT forums including the Computer, Telecommunications and Office Equipment (CTO) expo annually held in Lagos, European CeBit, and United States’ Supercomms, over the years to name a few.

However, stakeholders are more disposed with Dr. Ekuwem as investigations by correspondent revealed that once his interest was made known, many potential candidates for the top office of ATCON President, withdrew their candidacy or even changed their thought to vie for other positions.

Available positions
ATCON constitution, according to its secretariat on the call for interest and nominations announced earlier, stipulated that there are about 14 elective positions in the association, which last for a tenure of two years, but could be re-elected for three times consecutively.

The offices are that of the National President, first and second Vice Presidents, National Secretary, Publicity Secretary, Financial Secretary and Treasurer. Also listed for contest are the positions of sub-group coordinators for licensed telephone operators; auxiliary services providers, enhanced services providers; customer equipment dealers, manufacturing/manufacturers representatives in addition to consulting group.

ATCON’s structure allows for sub-group coordinators to form part of the National Executive Council (NEC) so as to avail them ample and efficient representation of the avalanche of telecommunications services in the sector.

Consultations and expectations
As usual, consultations leading into midnight meetings are going on within ATCON as caucuses strategize and restrategize for the next election on 48 hours basis.

Although ATCON secretariat promised to publicize the nominations list when done ahead of the election, stakeholders are saying that much has not been done in this regard.

This election is coming barely a month after the Unified Licensing Regime (ULR) took off on March 1, this year and stakeholders expectations are that whoever that would emerge as the National President would be one with open-door policy, focused on the future of the industry under ULR, as much needs an ardent advocate of convergence and not a conservative.

Key issue however is that as the two are now known, one of them would definitely emerge the national president and another first vice president.

As all is set for the NEC meeting cum election stakeholders are eager to cast their votes and get done with the election so the industry can move forward.

i-Cell to open more outlets

Dubai-based mobile phone marketing company, i-Cell, with office in Nigeria, has said it would soon open more outlets in the country.

Marketing Manager of the self-acclaimed leading trading Dubai company, General Trading LLC, Mr. Miran Ellahee, made this disclosure in an interactive section with newsmen in Lagos.

“We’re now on ground and hopes to open service centers throughout Nigeria,” he declared.

Very soon, he said, I-Cell would commence elaborate promotions to strengthen commitment to the nation’s market.

The marketing manager also said that the outlet to be opened in collaboration with I-Cell partners, would equally avail the dealers training opportunities on how to improve their market orientation.

This, he explained is because “we want a customer to walk in and interact with the products”.

Mr. Ellahee, who claimed I-Cell is the largest distributor of Nokia, Samsung and Motorola but failed to provide statistical evidence, also said that the firm’s major concern is on product education at the pick-up points.

To this end, he said, the firm presently has 10 expatriate technicians at the Opebi office, as they planned to localize the firm’s technical team for the local Nigerian market.

i-Cell, he said, was recently awarded the 2005 best overall distributor by Nokia for the Middle East and African market.

Sulaiman emerges Interswitch chairman

Transaction switching and electronic payment processing company, InterSwitch Nigeria Limited, has named Mr. Adedotun Sulaiman, as the new chairman of its Board of Directors.

Mr. Sulaiman’s whose election was unanimous is also chairman, Accenture Nigeria and takes over from former Executive Director, Information Technology, First Bank Nigeria Plc, Dr. Evans Woherem.

With over 27 years professional experience, Mr. Sulaiman got a first class degree in Business Administration from the University of Lagos in 1975, just as he attended Harvard Business School for the Programme Management Development in 1990, even as he is also a Chartered Accountant since1981.

He joined Accenture in 1978 and was involved as the engagement partner on several transformational activities specializing on strategy, top level organization design and corporate governance and strategic human resource management.

Mr. Sulaiman became the Managing Partner of the then Arthur Andersen audit and management consulting practices in 1993, and on March 1, 2005 Mr. Sulaiman stepped down as the Country Managing Director of Accenture Nigeria and took on a new role as the Chairman of Accenture in the country and currently focused on assisting with exploring and developing business opportunities for Accenture in the rest of Africa.

Managing Director, InterSwitch Limited, Mr. Mitchell Elegbe, said it is a privilege to work with Mr. Sulaiman, and “we are extremely pleased to have him as our Chairman”.

According to him, with his wealth of experiences and proven track record of accelerating the growth of dynamic companies, additional to his knowledge of the company, having been actively involved in the initial business set up, Mr. Sulaiman, would no doubt be an excellent addition to the InterSwitch team.

Reacting to his election, Mr. Sulaiman declared that he felt honoured to be so elected. “I welcome the challenge and believe that with the support of others on the board and management of the company, we will be able to steer InterSwitch in the right direction to take advantage of emerging opportunities and consolidate its leadership position in the rapidly evolving and expanding Nigerian electronic payments industry”.

Expect lots of excitement –iTouch boss

*Goes to Egypt

Director of iTouch Global Concepts Nigeria Limited, Mr. Samson Isa, has declared that Nigerians should expect lots of excitements as the content provider opened office in Lagos.

This is coming as iTouch has concluded arrangements to also open another office in Egypt.

Speaking at the event to herald its entrance in the country, he noted that as the fastest growing market on the continent, would bring about more mobile content entertainment.

iTouch, which has already localized its operations with 13 out of the 14 key employees of the company in the country are Nigerians.

“Nigerians should expect lots of excitement from iTouch,” he reassured.

According to him, iTouch has over 10 years experience in content provision with presence in 25 countries.

In a keynote address to the occasion, Chief executive, iTouch Plc, Mr. Greg Brophy, described the nation’s market as dynamic and exciting.

Stressing that more excitements await Nigerians as iTouch now has presence in the country to draw itself nearer to them.

Disclosing that the firm would soon open its Egyptian office, he declared that this century is for African development, maintaining, “Africa must be great”.

He pointed out that cellular phones are the most powerful communications devices in the world.

“The cellular phone is also the most sensitive communications device,” Mr. Brophy asserted.

Noting that iTouch provides content for 108 operators globally including all the four Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators in the country, namely MTel, Vmobile, MTN and Glo.

iTouch would also contribute to the growth of music industry, education among others in order to fast track businesses from the country into the global arena.

“I look forward to meeting more Nigerians and contributing to the growth o the industry,” he submitted.

iTouch brands include Funky Fone, a brand oriented towards the ‘ghetto fabulous’ or ‘wafi culture’ of Nigeria and South Africa and Movilisto, a formidable European brand and Mobile Magic, an Eurocentric brand targeted at the urban youth as well as Jippii.

ITU creates focus group on IPTv

International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has created a focus group for the Internet Protocol Television (IPTv FG) to boost its deployment globally and market penetration.

Communication Officer at ITU, Mr. Toby Johnson who disclosed this said the creation of the group was an outcome of a consultative meeting that ended recently in Geneva, Switzerland.

The two-day meeting, which attracted about 120 experts worldwide, he said, were made up of world’s leading Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies to back up ITU’s role in the coordination of global IPTv standards.

According to him, the decision was taken considering the benefits of worldwide standards for all players in the IPTV value chain and the need to achieve rapid progress to avoid market fragmentation.

He also revealed that the first meeting of this group would be held in early June 2006.

ITU also acknowledged that standards work is ongoing at different parts of the world, stressing that the group forum is a reaction to an industry call for ITU to push forward and coordinate global standardization effort in the field.

IPTV is a system where a digital television service is delivered to consumers using internet protocol over a broadband connection.

Mr. Johnson further informed, it will help in paving the way for players, many of whom are already moving to IP-based Next Generation Networks (NGN) infrastructure, to offer a triple-play of video, voice and data.

ITU explained that standards are necessary in order to give service providers, whether traditional broadcasters, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or telecommunication service providers, control over their platforms and their offerings.

“Standards here will encourage innovation, help mask the complexity of services, guarantee quality of service (QoS), ensure interoperability and ultimately help players remain competitive,” Mr. Johnson said in a press statement made available to Champion Infotel.

The mission of IPTV FG, the officer noted, would be to coordinate and promote the development of global IPTV standards taking into account the existing work of the ITU study groups as well as other Standards Development Organizations (SDOs), forums and consortiums.

Specifically, the group would tend to define IPTv by identifying scenarios, drivers and relationships with other services and networks, requirements and framework architecture.

The group would also review and gap analysis of existing standards and ongoing works, while identifying opportunities for ITU interventions and activities that ITU would encourage other organizations to pursue.

Equally, the group is to coordinate existing standardization activities, harmonize the development of new standards and encourage interoperability with existing systems where viable.

Hello UK on ReltelWireless for N15

Leading Private Telecom Operator (PTO), ReltelWireless has reduced the cost of international calls on the network by 70 per cent. This, the firm said is to enable subscribers make cheaper calls to business associates, friends and families in oversea countries.

Executive Vice-Chairman, ReltelWireless, Mr. Kenneth Aigbonede, who disclosed this weekend, said that international calls on the network has been reduced to N15 per minute, in the company’s latest bid to make telephone calls affordable to the populace.

Before now, he noted that subscribers on the network were paying as much as N49 per minute to make calls to mobile telephone lines in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.

According to him, telephone calls on the network has been reduced considerably in accordance with the telco’s ``pace-setter policy, aimed at ensuring that everyone in the country has access to telephone services’’.

``We have now made international calls even cheaper than local calls to make every Nigerian to stay connected with the rest of the world at any point in time,’’ he said.

Mr. Aigbonede also said that the company had ensured that `Nigerians could make calls to South Africa, Ghana, China, Italy, United Arab Emirate (UAE) and India as well as the U.S., U.K. and Canada without spending a fortune.

He pointed out that RelTelWireless would soon be applying formally for a licence to operate the new unified licence system, noting that the network has been positioned to excel in the new order.

He said the management of the company had upgraded the company’s equipment, software and services, following the $20 million assistance given to the company recently by the China Development Bank.

Emphasizing that the network had also received technical support from the Chinese telecommunications giant, Huawei, making the network ``the first among equals in the fixed wireless telephone business in Nigeria’’.

He reiterated that ReltelWireless had consolidated its market leadership position in some cities in the country, including Lagos, Port Harcourt, Aba, Onitsha and Abuja.

A national fixed wireless licence operator, ReltelWireless, is at present has an installed capacity of about 1.2 million subscribers.

Starcomms takes home yet another award

LEADING Private Telephone Operator (PTO), Starcomms Limited, has grabbed the City People’s award, for the third year running, as the “Best Private Telephone Operator Company of the Year”.

Commenting on the latest aware, Public Relations Manager at Starcomms, Ms. Laura Johnson, expressed appreciation for the award, describing it as invaluable reward for the company’s continued strive for excellence.

She praised the organizers for the successful hosting of the event and promised that Starcomms would continue to work hard to preserve the trust and patronage of its numerous subscribers.

Ms Johnson also assured that Starcomms would continue to deploy first class telecommunications services so as to maintain its lead role as the number one innovative service providers in the country.

The 2006 edition held Lagos, was witnessed personalities such as the wife of the Vice President and Founder of WOTCLEF, Chief (Mrs.) Titi Atiku Abubakar, Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Ayodele Fayose and wife of Ebonyi State Governor, Chief (Mrs) Eunice Egwu as special guests.

The telco has been consistent with innovation in the nation’s telecoms scene, which provided for its being voted “Best telephone company of the Year (Fixed Wireless) 2004 and 2005” at the Nigerian IT & Telecoms Awards (NITTA 2004 and 2005).

Other awards won by the company are include, “The Best Wireless Telephone Marketer of the year 2005” at the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria Awards, “Best Fixed Operator of the year 2004” at the Nigerian Telecoms Awards, amongst a host of others.

With close to 300,000 subscribers on its network, the Company has consistently maintained leadership in the telecommunications sector in terms of product and service innovativeness, customer service delivery and network quality.

Only recently, it launched the Starcomms EV-DO, the latest generation ultra-speed mobile wireless broadband/internet offer, which is the first deployment of its kind in West Africa.

APC’s suite of cooling solutions

In order to ensure backend power systems, the American Power Conversion (APC) has introduced a cooling solution suite to sustain the unpredictability of Information Technology (IT) environments, especially in developing countries.

This suite, APC said is a range of new InfraStruXure compatible modular cooling solutions to support the delivery of precise and predictable chilly environs to high-density loads.

Country General Manager, Africa at APC, Mr. Carl Kleynhans, said his firm's latest solutions include the InfraStruXure InRow RC, InfraStruXure Cooling Distribution Unit (CDU) and the Rack Air Containment System (RACS).

“Today’s IT managers face a completely new set of cooling and thermal problems in the data centre,” he said, noting that in a traditional data centre environment higher temperatures are addressed by supplying an over-abundance of cooling to the room, which is extremely wasteful and ultimately cost prohibitive.

Besides the heat density issues, IT equipment loads, the manager said, are becoming more dynamic, exacerbating the challenge of maintaining an acceptable thermal ‘rate of change’ in accordance with ASHRAE Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments.

"Simply put, cooling IT equipment too quickly could be just as dangerous as allowing it to run too hot. And to effectively address these new realities, cooling solutions must not only minimise the mixing of hot and cold aisle airstreams and deliver dynamic cooling and airflow performance, but also properly match the fluctuating IT equipment heat loads and airflow" Mr. Kleynhans said.

He also pointed out that APC’s cooling solutions serve the needs of a variety of IT environments, from wiring closets and computer rooms to data centres of all sizes.

The company’s scalable solutions, he said, include air distribution units, portables and precision cooling systems, and serve specific cooling needs for diverse environments.

Explaining further, he said, APC’s InfraStruXure InRow RC for instance, is a modular cooling solution that is installed next to the IT equipment rack in applications ranging from small computer rooms to large data centres.

This, he said, could be set up at both sides of a rack enclosure, the unit could also predictably deliver up to 60 kilowatts (kw) of cooling per rack of IT equipment or up to 30kW per rack with full redundancy.

On the InfraStruXure CDU, he said, it’s a flexible chilled water distribution system designed for the InfraStruXure InRow RC unit. Whereas the APC’s Rack Air Containment System, is a modular enclosure designed with the blade server in mind to facilitate predictable cooling to moderate, high and ultra high-density heat loads.

Omatek partners One Laptop Per Child

Local manufacturer of computers and entertainment convergence systems, Omatek Computers Limited, has advanced plans to partner with a Massachusetts-based non-profit association, One-Laptop Per Child, on the production of $100 laptop to boost children education in developing countries including Nigeria.

The partnership would spur Omatek to serve as an outsource for the One Laptop Per Child initiative led by renowned Prof. Nicholas Negroponte, as its chairman.

Deputy General Manager, Omatek, Mr. Olumide Akinmtimi revealed this after a session with the Director, One Laptop Per Child for Middle East and African, Mr. Khaleed Hassaounah, in Lagos.

Omatek, he said, under the proposed collaboration would see to the one million laptops expected to be distributed among Nigerian schools, which according to the association will be localized through adding value to both the software and hardware aspects.

He also enjoined government to support this collaboration by ensuring the infrastructure such as power supply is there always and availability of fund to enable them meet the target with good local inputs.

For the Director, Mr. Hassaounah, the organization plans to complete production of the initial seven (7) million laptops mapped out in the first phase of the project, whereas the distribution would commence precisely by May 2007.

“Precisely by May 2007, distribution would begin,” he said.

Seven countries have been chosen from various continents to include Nigeria, China, India, Thailand, Egypt, Brazil and Argentina with each due to receive 1m laptops respectively.

On deployable software, he said, that Open Source (OS) has been chosen, explaining that it would allow children to use and learn from the software. Emphasising that it would encourage future software developers for these nations, recognizing that every country has its own peculiar challenges.

Omatek Computers Limited represents the technology of eight renowned factories in Asia, known for their foremost computer and accessories’ production and is bent on producing made in Nigeria Omatek Computers, notebooks and servers with all components.

Thus priding itself as the first on the continent, to produce Nigerian made computer cases, speakers, keyboards and mouse.While One Laptop Per Child, is an initiative sponsored by the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), dedicated to developing a $100 laptop computer, in the hopes of revolutionizing the way children are educated throughout the global.

Ekuwem to increase SMEEIS fund for telecom

EXECUTIVE Vice Chairman, Teledom Group International, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem has unveiled his agenda for the forthcoming general election of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), just as he plans to agitate for an increased sectoral fund from the Small and Medium Enterprises Equity Investment Scheme (SMEEIS). Where billions of Naira are lying untapped.

The election scheduled to hold in Lagos this Friday, comes as part of ATCON’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and National Executive Council (NEC) held every two years.

SMEEIS is funded with 10 per cent after tax deductions from enterprises in the country.

Dr. Ekuwem, who also is the immediate past President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), insisted that until the nation put the right policies framework to encourage SMEs to be productive and produce upto installed capacity, then, “We’re non-starters. Therefore, something has to be done in that regard.”

According to him, loans would be facilitated for bold efforts at made-in-Nigeria facilities to be used in the industry during his tenure, even as he would work towards having a good percentage of SMEIS funds to be zoned to telecom industry.

As such, stakeholders fora made up of ATCON, NCC and banks would be organized within this period to work out the modalities for partnerships.

Speaking to ITRealms Online, weekend, Dr. Ekuwem said that it is his passion for affordability and available broadband that is driving him to contest for the top-most position, the national president of the association.

In line with his stand, broadband-based Information and Communications Technology (ICT) offerings should form part of the fundamental human rights of the citizenry and seamless interconnection topping his agenda.

“I am passionate in my advocacy for access to broadband ICT services as a fundamental human right of every Nigerian,” he asserted.

This, he said, could only be ensured via rapid penetration to every village in Nigeria by broadband ICT infrastructure. He also stressed his avid view on availability of ICT services via functional infrastructure.

He is equally passionate about the need for affordability of ICT services to the Nigerian people within the context of cost recovery and profit for the operators and service providers.

“There is need for high quality of service for the ICT service consumers,” he declared, noting that the telecom consumers must have value for their money and there should be no charges for service not rendered.

He also promises creation of platforms in partnership with the NCC, and in consultation with telecom consumers in the country to ensure access, availability, affordability and quality of service to prevail in the industry.
“I want to also strengthen the platform for dispute resolution among members of ATCON, especially among the operators brother group (ALTON). We must nib interconnect disputes in the bud. We must intervene as friends before disagreements after the growth of the industry negatively. Where two or more operators fight, the telecom consumers suffer,” he declared.

VIA launches PT890 chipset to boost Windows Vista

VIA Technologies Incorporated has launched its PT890 chipset to broaden the range of Microsoft Windows Vista-ready core logic solutions available in the global Information Technology (IT) market.

Apart from providing support to the full range of Intel processors up to 1066 Mega Hertz (MHz) Front Side Bus (FSB), VIA PT890 provides an outstanding balance of system performance with high bandwidth Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) express connectivity, with advanced Double Data Rate of second generation (DDR2) memory supporting comprehensive feature set and solid reliability.

Together with either a S3 Graphics Chrome S25 or Chrome S27 graphics card featuring DirectX 9.0 and the Chromotion 3.0 Video Engine, system builders could design VIA PT890 systems capable of delivering the full Windows Vista Premium experience.

FSB is also known as the Processor Bus, Memory Bus, or System Bus and connects the Central Processing Unit (CPU) with the main memory and is used to connect to other components within the computer and comes in various ranges of 66 MHz, 133 MHz, 100 MHz, 266 MHz, 400 MHz, and up.

Whereas PCI Express is a scalable input/output (I/O) set to replace parallel PCI bus, which came standard on motherboards.

Vice President, Product Marketing, VIA Technologies, Mr. Chewei Lin, said that the VIA PT890 compliments VIA’s already wide portfolio of products including discrete and integrated chipsets as well as processors that stand Windows Vista ready.

“The powerful combination of the VIA PT890 and the S3 Graphics Chrome S20 series graphics cards lends itself perfectly for system builders wanting to design systems able to meet the Windows Vista Premium system and graphics requirements, giving end users the ability to fully take advantage of the stunning Third Dimension (3D) desktop features that Vista Premium has to offer.”

VIA PT890, the Vice President explained that when connected to the latest VIA South Bridge solutions such as the VIA VT8237A, integrates VIA Vinyl Multichannel Audio Suite, thus delivering rich, high definition audio at resolutions as high as 32-bit/192 Kilohertz (kHz).

While the VIA advanced connectivity suite offers a wide range of high-bandwidth connectivity options, including support for up to eight high-speed USB 2.0 ports and high-throughput 10/100 Mb/s Fast Ethernet.