" ITREALMS: VoIP is engine for telephony in developing countries

Monday, August 21, 2006

VoIP is engine for telephony in developing countries

Remmy Nweke

Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe has described the development of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) as the engine of telephony in developing countries like Nigeria.

Speaking as a lead speaker at the first day of the three-day (VoIP) forum in Lagos, which opened on Monday, Dr. Ndukwe in a paper entitled “Regulatory Challenges and Achievements in the VOIP Arena” said that this recognition gave his commission the impetus to hire some experts to conduct study on the Nigerian telecommunication market.

This study, he said, was followed by consultations with stakeholders, stressing that at this stage of the nation’s telecom market, with regard to global trends in service delivery and technological development.

“The Commission was convinced that a sure way to promote universal access to telecommunications services, at this stage of the industry's development is to evolve a policy framework that recognizes the issues relating to VoIP as an engine for the development of telephony in the country,” he declared.

Dwelling on the Nigerian experience on VoIP, he said, that the nation recognizes VoIP as a technology hence it has not been restricted or any Internet Protocol (IP).

“Nigeria welcomes the use of VoIP and encourages telecommunications operator to deploy it where applicable,” he said.

Dr. Ndukwe emphasized that this is in consonance with NCC commitment to facilitating fair, transparent, effective and efficient regulation based on best practices, even as it strives to determine appropriate policies for the regulation of the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) within the Nigerian telecommunications environment.

This importance, he said, must have been foreseen by the participants of the first-ever VoIP forum in Nairobi in 2004, which welcomed the regulatory changes being introduced in a few African countries to liberalize the use of VoIP and called on regulators in other African countries to follow the example set by the pioneering countries in order to drive down telephony costs and stimulate the growth of networks across the continent.

He also pointed out that the forum observed, in spite of the dramatic growth of mobile telephony in the continent, “there continues to be a telephone famine in Africa which VoIP can help to address".

In addition, EVC noted that equally even in those countries where VoIP has been allowed, in most cases monopolies, have been maintained in international traffic, which prevented the anticipated benefits of low-cost of international VoIP from having an impact on the market.

This, he also said, would stimulate international contacts and trade as well as increase traffic substantially.

He echoed the call for increased deployment of IP networks, saying "increased deployment of IP networks, coupled with the growth of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in the region, will considerably enhance the retention of traffic within the continent and thus mitigate the costs of extra-continental transits".

He maintained that it would be a factor in retention of revenues by African operators and service providers, thereby promoting indigenous entrepreneurship and wealth.

Just as he agreed with the submission of the Nairobi forum that regulators like NCC should encourage investment on VoIP by opening up the markets through licensing multiple international gateways to increase competition and multiply service offerings.“I agree with these submissions,” he asserted.

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