" ITREALMS: 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

3G’s poor outing threatens quality service

The recent marathonic unveiling of the Third Generation (3G) products among leading Global Systems for Mobile communications (GSM) operators, may have after-all become a threat and further increases the deteriorating quality of service (QoS) in the country.

Champion Infotel recalls that in the last two weeks, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector witnessed rushed plans to roll out 3G services commercially among the operators in their bids to claim one first or the other.

It was also gathered, for instance, that while the like of MTN Nigeria lays claim to being the first to launch the services into the market, Globacom points to its demonstration ever before the licensing was granted to any of the operators by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which was over a year ago.

Our checks indicated that the level of drop calls among these two 3G giants have risen considerably, especially since the forthnight ago when the competition hot up the sector.

Further checks revealed that one of the 3G operators tried to give reasons via Interactive Voice Response (IVR), the other network would simply display network error, or connection error and informing that the “number you are calling is unavailable” even when they are available among others.

Equally, the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe recently predicted a bleak yuletide for Global System for Mobile communications subscribers in the country inspite of 3G debut.

Ndukwe who spoke at the December edition of the monthly Telecom Consumer parliament in Lagos, foresaw a gloomy festive season for Nigerians due to deteriorating telecom services, even as he warned operators to live up by improving on their networks through adequate expansion plans.

He stressed that the poor quality of service in the sector is long over due for correction and tasked operators to wake up to this challenge.

“Nigerians would experience network congestion this Christmas season as current infrastructure and transmission facilities may not be able to cope with the expected high volume of traffic, he said.

He also noted that unless the service providers expand infrastructure to carry the current capacities in their networks, which experts say is already over subscribed, the possibility of a smooth holiday telephony would not be achieved this 2007.

Dr. Ndukwe admitted that network problem is a global issue but noted with optimism that in no distance future, Nigeria will become one of those best countries in the world if enough capacity is expanded by the operators.”

Although he said that the quality of service in the country has not improved as expected, promising that Nigeria will continue to build infrastructure until we get to an appreciable stage and charged network operators to ameliorate network congestion.

According to him, “The problem in the network is carrying capacity. We must continue to build it even up till the next five years. We may not expect a perfect network now. There is not even a perfect network in the developed countries. We need more base stations. Let us hope that network quality will improve especially, this Christmas season, when there will be more congestions in the networks. The operating companies must do something now to abate the impending congestion to the barest minimum.”

He tasked the operators to be proactive and build more capacities in order to abate drop calls.

“We do not have enough capacity to the size of the network. The consumer deserves best QoS. That is the bottom line. It is very important that the operators prepare for the challenges ahead. That is the simple truth of the matter”, Ndukwe said.

This is in addition to the negative impact of what the operators under the aegis of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), described as ‘excesses’ of the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA).

Just as ALTON said its ready for meaningful negotiation as being solicited by the management of LASIMRA.

Champion Infotel recollects that the group while reacting recently to the incessant arrests and detention of telcom officials from its member companies in Lagos, over what LASIMRA alleged as unlawful laying of infrastructure, ALTON said that the trend would impact adversely not only to the development of telecommunications in the country, but also to Lagos as the nerve centre of the nation and would be drastically hit with the increased poor quality of services across the networks.

ALTON chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, had said their attention have been drawn to some media adverts inciting communities against telecom operators sponsored by LASIMRA, asking those communities to call the agency on sighting of telcos site engineers, adding that the most worrisome now is the arrests of site engineers and confiscation of their tools as well as cables.

“It is with considerable concern that we draw attention to recent closure of some operators’ sites on the orders of the General Manager of LASIMRA,” he said, lamenting that ALTON major concern is that this act of disregard for the rule of law is coming from a state led by Mr. Babatunde Tunde Fashola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Industry analysts, however, opined that although the sector is competition deriven, there is need to ensure that adequate arrangement is made to avoid serious damages to the operating companies and unforeseen emotional impact on subscribers.

Some other analysts said that the bid to hastely explore the Nigerian telecom market by the telcos has not given them ample time to establish firm footing on a given Value Added Services (VAS), such as available in the 3G platform.

They equally cited an instance of Short Messaging Service (SMS), which is still having hard times to deliver on most of these networks.

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ITU sets standards for Internet TV

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has set for the first time, a global standards for Internet Protocol TV (IPTV).

Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, ITU, Mr. Sanjay Acharya, informed that the standards were built with technical contributions from leading service providers and manufacturers from the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector to concretise ITU’s role as the global leader in IPTV standards development.

He explained that IPTV is one of the most highly visible services to emerge as part of the development of Next-Generation Networks (NGN).

“Indeed, it is seen as both the business case and principal driver for accelerating deployment of NGN,” he said.

The new standards, according to him, were developed by the Focus Group on IPTV (FG IPTV) in ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T).

A press statement made available to Champion Infotel and endorsed by Mr. Acharya, quoted the Director, ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, Mr. Malcolm Johnson as saying, that standards are crucial for IPTV to reach its market potential and global audience.

“They’re necessary in order to give service providers — whether traditional broadcasters, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), cable operators or telecoms service providers, control over their platforms and their offerings,” Mr. Johnson said.

He stressed that standards will encourage innovation, help mask the complexity of services, guarantee quality of service, ensure interoperability and, ultimately, help players remain competitive.

This development is coming on the heels of the seventh and final meeting of FG IPTV hosted in Malta by the Maltese Ministry for Competitiveness and Communications.

Speaking at the occasion, Minister for Competitiveness and Communications, Mr. Censu Galea, said, the stage of work that sees completion lays the groundwork for an area of ICT that some predict could attract up to 100 million subscribers in the next three years.

“It’s easy to see why so many of the world’s key ICT companies have been keen to progress this work in ITU. Malta is proud to host this event and play a part in advancing this important technology,” he said.

Additionally, contained within the documents produced by the Focus Group are the high-level architecture and frameworks needed by service providers in order to rollout IPTV services.

ITU’s next phase of IPTV work is touted to be on the IPTV-GSI (Global Standards Initiative), which tends to centre on the speedy preparation of standards based on documents produced by FG IPTV as well as on the detailed protocols required.

Between 2006 and 2007, ITU has focused on numerous physical and electronic meetings as well as workshops thereby perfecting work on IPTV worldwide, just as about 21 documents covering IPTV requirements, architecture, quality of service (QoS), security, digital rights management (DRM), unicast and multicast, protocols, metadata, middleware and home networks will be submitted to the ITU-T Study Group charged with progressing and distributing the work.

The IPTV-GSI will build on the momentum generated over the past 20 months, and it is foreseen that contributions and participation will continue to increase.

Operators consider IPTV a key element of a triple-play package of voice, video and data services. Standardization is imperative if service providers are to offer high quality products with value-additions, such as video-on-demand services that will inevitably drive the market.

Whereas, a combination of voice, Internet and video services over a single broadband link and from a single provider is foreseen as the ultimate goal of the broadband revolution.

FG IPTV benefited from collaboration with all ITU-T Study Groups and other forums and regional standards bodies, including ATIS IPTV Interoperability Forum (IIF), DSL Forum, the DVB project, ETSI TISPAN and the Home Gateway Initiative (HGI).

Even as the first meeting of IPTV-GSI will convene in Seoul, Republic of Korea from 15 to 22 January 2008.

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ICANN to improve Whois Accuracy

Global coordinating agency for the Internet, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has advanced plans to improve Whois Accuracy.

The plans would enable the accessibility of some ICANN compliance projects such as Whois Data Accuracy study, Whois Data reminder policy audit, registrar investigation of Whois Inaccuracy claims audit and accessibility study of Whois.

ICANN noted that these steps have become necessary because over the years, its constituencies and others have observed apparent inaccuracies in Whois contact information provided by registrants when registering and maintaining their domain names.

Hence in an attempt to contribute to community discussion regarding Whois policy, ICANN has undertaken a study of domain name Whois contact information accuracy, the body said.

According to the ICANN position paper, with a great deal of Internet community interest behind it, the study commenced in November 2007 by developing a sampling plan to draw a representatives of domain names from the Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) name population.

Equally, Champion Infotel gathered that in consultation with a statistician, ICANN developed an algorithm to determine the appropriate sample population size; one that provides acceptable accuracy and certainty levels.

However, in the first phase of this study, ICANN will select a sample from statistical purposes, an infinitely large database that will provide a measure of accuracy to +/- 5 per cent with a certainty of 95 per cent.

“Staff will then randomly select domain names in accordance with statistical sampling practices,” ICANN officials informed.

Also, ICANN said its currently defining the steps staff will take to determine the accuracy of Whois contact information associated with each registered domain name and address within the representative sample.

“It is ICANN’s goal to ensure that staff uses practical and reasonably reliable means to assess accuracy of each data set,” the body said.

ICANN explained that after finalizing the methodology to determine the Whois data accuracy of each data set, staff would execute the steps for each registered domain name within the representative sample.

As well, staffs anticipate several steps will be necessary to determine Whois data accuracy, thus they will conduct this study in phases.

ICANN will publish status reports as staff completes work in connection with each phase of the study.

The first report regarding this study will be published by February 2008.

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UNESCO, Hewlett Packard enter strategic deal

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and Information Technology (IT) giant, Hewlett-Packard (HP) have signed a strategic partnership deal to strengthen collaboration on existing education projects.

The signing ceremony, which held in Paris, weekend was attended by the UNESCO Director-General, Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura and vice president, Global Citizenship HP Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Gabriele Zedlmayer.

In his comment, Matsuura said that it’s essential that UNESCO and HP help developing countries, in particular African countries, to bridge the information technology gap and to become full-fledged partners of today’s knowledge society.

“UNESCO’s education priorities are very much in line with the goals of HP’s education strategy. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, HP has supported more than 200 education projects in over 20 countries, reaching over 50,000 young people in 2007,” he said.

Zedlmayer stressed that on a worldwide level, HP contributed grants to more than 850 schools in 36 countries, worth €30 million between 2004 and 2007.

Through the partnership, UNESCO and HP will work together on several projects in the area of education, especially to support UNESCO’s priority of “Education for All”.

This includes an evaluation on the extension of the existing brain drain project to additional regions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. UNESCO and HP started to collaborate five years ago in South East Europe to help key universities connect to global research networks.

Champion Infotel recalls that in 2006 the project was extended to Africa, streamlined to fight brain drain by providing universities with an advanced technology called grid computing, which allows top quality researchers to play a key role in international research and contribute to economic development in their home countries.

Another project is the World Heritage Map, which enables the general public to visualize the spread of World Heritage sites around the globe, and raises the awareness of the World Heritage Convention.

The map is above all an educational tool, allowing UNESCO to communicate its work in this field on a large scale.

Equally, HP has provided a financial contribution to UNESCO for the “Printing and distribution of the Man and the Biosphere Map”. The Man and the Biosphere Map will be fully prepared and edited by the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences of UNESCO, which will provide the full lay-out to HP for printing and distribution.

While the computer recycling training guide is also the fruit of UNESCO and HP cooperation aimed at supporting local stakeholders, in developing countries in particular, to manage electronic waste. The goal is to support local actors, especially those with a background in managing used computer equipment, and to create environmentally clean and healthy business opportunities.

Currently, HP is the only technology partner in the project, which also includes the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management (Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie - ADEME), EMMAUS, the international movement of solidarity, and TIC ETHIC, Information and Communication Technologies in the service of ethics and sustainable development.

UNESCO functions as a laboratory of ideas and a standard-setter to forge universal agreements in its fields of competences. It also serves as a clearinghouse – for the dissemination and sharing of information and knowledge – while helping its 193 Member States to build their human and institutional capacities in diverse fields.

HP worth $104.3 billion for the four fiscal quarters in revenue, which ended October 31, 2007, focuses on simplifying technology experiences for all of its customers – from individual consumers to the largest businesses, has a portfolio spanning printing, personal computing, software, services and IT infrastructure.

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Tahir commends MTN on Gold Club

Former Minister of Internal Affairs, Dr. Ibrahim Tahir, has commended MTN Nigeria Communications Limited for coming up with the concept of Gold Club.

The club tends to offer special recognition to MTN subscribers who use upto N150,000 and above per annum.

Chatting with newsmen at Oceanview, venue of the launch, Dr. Tahir accompanied by his family, said he is a pioneer MTN subscriber.

“I have been using MTN line since 2001 and I have never had any course to regret using the network. Though I have not been judicious with how much I spend on my calls, as long I can talk without any hitch, I never cared about the cost but today MTN has made me realised that it is wise to spend more on their network because at the end of the day it is going to be of mutual benefit. You can see that my spending has qualified me as a gold card member,” he declared.

He pointed out that he was given free first class ticket to attend the event with his family, lodged in 5-star hotel with feeding; all expense paid.

“I learnt the same treatment is given to all high value customers invited here today. Considering the numerous values attached to the gold card membership, I will advise MTN subscribers to start spending more though wisely on their calls so that they can qualify for the gold card membership,” he enjoined, expressing appreciation to MTN for all these great added value offerings.

MTN Chief Marketing Officer, Mr Bola Akingbade, said that the club is a high value loyalty scheme and designed for big spenders on MTN account nationwide.

“Its primary objective is to reinforce the relationship that the network has developed with its customers in this category by way of returning added values to them in a way that no other network has done,” he asserted.

In addition, he said, that the benefits of this loyalty scheme include full medical examination for the top 500 customers and vehicle tracking for the top 3,000 customers with different levels of discount applying based on customer spend.

Others, he said, are lifestyle benefits such as luxury holidays, discounts in highbrow restaurants and bars, free golf lessons to name a few.

“We’re meeting your needs for security and well-being of what you value most. We want our customers to be able to say ‘MTN truly cares about my health, safety and lifestyle needs. I feel recognised and appreciated,” he said.

Equally speaking, another MTN high value customer and managing director, Capital Oil, Mr. Ifeanyi Patrick Uba, declared, “MTN has shown to us, its customers that subscribing to the network is not one-sided relationship. That, it is not about profiteering from us alone, that it is about building a symbiotic partnership. Look at all what I am going to be getting free, just for using the network. More kudos to them and I wish other networks can emulate this wonderful gesture from the people’s network.”

Explaining further, General Manager, Consumer Market at MTN, Mr. Kola Oyeyemi, said that for vehicle tracking, this added value would be offered to 3,000 top customers with different levels of discount, with tier one covering top 500 customers who spend N250,000 per quarter with each in this category having a free vehicle tracking device.

The second tier, he said, would be made up of about 2,500 customers who spend N150,000 per quarter, while MTN would bear part of the cost for their vehicle tracking devices to a tune of 50 per cent discount, even as the customer pays the balance and signs a contract for a period.

“The cost of the device is then spread over the contract period, which means the customer pays his monthly fee of N2,500 for the tracking service plus the amortised cost of the modem,” he added.

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Celtel takes over Accra Westel

Pan African mobile operator, Celtel, has finally taken charge at the Ghanaian telecom network, Westel.

This follows the conclusion of agreements between the telco and the Ghanaian government at the weekend.

Champion Infotel recalls that few months ago, Westel, a government owned telecommunications in Accra, was sold to the pan African mobile operator after the bidding was concluded, even as the signing of the final deal took place last Friday with the Ministry of Communications in Accra, thus giving Celtel the right to move into operations.

Westel is the second national operator in Ghana and is licensed to provide fixed and mobile (GSM) telecommunications services.

Also, Champion Infotel gathered that Celtel plans to commence enhanced telecom services nationwide in the first half of 2008.

According to Celtel parent company, Zain Group, a leading mobile telecommunications network operator in the Middle East and Africa, the delay in handing over the operation to Celtel was believed to have been caused by the need to work out the finer details of operational rules or issues including the approval of a tax holidays to Celtel.

“With the signing of the agreement, the issues appears to have now been resolved paving the way for the African operator owned by Zain Group to move into the company,” sources close to the deal informed.

Meanwhile the selection of the winner for Ghana Telecom is still being finalized, although the transaction advisors have already passed on their recommendations to government.

Celtel hopes to quickly turn around the network by investing heavily in network coverage expansion, improvement in quality of service and in other critical areas of the business such as human capital development.

Commenting on this development, Zain Group Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Saad Al Barrak, said the acquisition of Westel is important to Celtel as it gives the mobile operator a “gateway to West Africa.”

Celtel operates in a number of West African countries including Nigeria , Niger , Chad , Burkina Faso , and Sierra Leone, among others.

The company also looks forward to promoting Ghana as a gateway to West Africa through its One Network, the world’s first borderless network.

One Network offers Celtel’s customers the opportunity to move freely across geographical borders using the same services they would access in their home country, and to make calls without roaming surcharges and without having to pay to receive incoming calls and messages.

The service will also permit customers to buy and top up with local airtime when they visit other countries in which One Network is operational.

Celtel’s One Network service is currently operational for over 400 million people across six nations in East, Central and West Africa.

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Glo day inspires visitors @ PH fair-07

The recently held Globacom special day at the just concluded 2007 Port Harcourt International Trade Fair, was an inspiring one for visitors at the fair.

The special day, which held last Friday, was one of the highlights of the yearly trade event as the Nigerian telco used the occasion to connect with its subscribers and visitors.

The event, which attracted hundreds of Glo subscribers and others who thronged the venue to identify with the success story of Globacom, had the Globacom Regional Manager, Port Harcourt, Mr Lucky Akponovwe, enlightening them.

Speaking on behalf of the Chief Operating Officer, Mr Mohamed Jameel, the regional manager reaffirmed Globacom’s pledge to Nigeria and her people, stressing that its passion is about the rapid growth and development of the country.

“This is why we have been rolling out our network across Nigeria at an unparalleled pace. This was also why we have been in the forefront of crashing the cost of telephony so that Nigerians, irrespective of their social and economic status, can maximize the benefits of modern telephony to reach their fullest potentials,” he said.

He noted that Globacom has been particularly close to the people of the Niger Delta and Rivers state in particular where it is currently working with the state government to ensure 100 per cent coverage of the state by Globacom so that the people in the remotest locations across the state can reach others and be reached from anywhere.

“Currently, Globacom is working on a project with the Rivers State government to extend our services to all of Rivers State , including the creeks and the riverine areas. We must note the passion of the State Government in seeing to the speedy conclusion of the project for the benefit of the people,” Akponovwe disclosed.

He also said that Globacom is working with Shell on a project which, “as part of a broader communication project, affording Glo services to be extended to all the areas of Niger Delta where Shell has operation. Through this, the vast majority of communities in the Niger Delta will be empowered to communicate with ease.”

Since the arrival of Globacom on the Nigerian telecommunications landscape over four years ago, according to him, has remained focused on the noble objective of empowering the people and changing lives.

“At Globacom, we believe in rewarding our loyal subscribers and this we have consistently done since we rolled out over four years ago. We are happy to note that competition has copied our subscriber reward programmes in the last few years”, Akponovwe noted.

He equally reminded visitors of the on-going Win & Rule promo, tagged the biggest consumer reward programme ever in the country, in which 500 brand new cars are to be given out to 500 loyal old and new subscribers nationwide.

The cars, he outlined to include 200 Kia Rio , 150 Nissan Sunny, 100 Peugeot 307, 38 BMW 3 Series and 12 Mercedes C360.

“All that is required is for the subscriber to recharge his/her Glo line with between N500 and over N10,000 every two weeks to qualify for the draws for the cars. This promo is running from December 2007 to May 2008,” he said.

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Nokia Siemens concludes 4G trials in Berlin

Few months after its take off as a joint venture between the two global brands in telecommunications, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), has concluded trial of the Fourth Generation (4G) network in the city of Berlin, Germany.

This is coming as most telecommunications operators in the country are battling to launch Third Generation (3G) technologies.

Champion Infotel gathered that NSN had involved Long-Term Evolution (LTE), the successor to 3G in order to offer theoretical data rates of up to 173 Mega Bytes per second (Mbps).

LTE is known to have been on the same pedestal marketwise with mobile Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WIMAX), which only promises around 70 Mbps but has a significant impact in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) market.

The fastest currently available mobile broadband, High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), offers around 7.2 Mbps.

Experts said that both LTE and mobile WiMax use the Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) modulation scheme and multiple-input multiple-output (Mimo) technology, which is based on the use of multiple antennae.

On the other hand, Mobile WiMax’s recent inclusion to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) family of standards has raised the possibility of both technologies becoming part of what will be known as 4G.

United Kingdom-based ZDNet reports that while announcing its latest trials, at the weekend, NSN said it had completed the world’s first multi-user field trial of LTE in an urban environment.

The trial, which was in Berlin, utilised 20 Mega Hertz (MHz) of bandwidth in the 2.6 Gega Hertz (GHz) spectrum, which is set for a hotly contested auction in the UK next year.

“[The trial confirmed] that LTE performance requirements can be met using 3GPP standardised technologies and it realised data rates of more than 100Mbps over distances of several hundred metres, while maintaining excellent throughput at the edge of typical urban mobile radio cells,” NSN’s statement read.

Calling the trial an “important initial proof of concept for LTE”, NSN’s chief technology officer Stephan Scholz said that LTE would further the company’s goal of connecting five billion users by 2015, due to LTE’s efficient use of spectrum.

Mobile WiMax has a good chance of deployment in the UK if spectrum is secured at auction next year. ZDNet.co.uk attended a demonstration of the technology.

Head, LTE at NSN, Mr. Matthias Reiss said that they have demonstrated that the platform meets the high expectations set for this new technology.

“Most importantly, we now have evidence that future LTE networks can run on existing base station sites and mobile operators can build LTE networks without requiring new antenna sites,” he said.

Champion Infotel recalls that UK telecoms regulator, OfCom announced recently the keenly anticipated auction of the 2010-2025MHz and 2500-2690MHz bands on last Wednesday.

The auctions will take place in mid 2008, and the deadline for applications by mobile operators is 16 January, even as its expected that the use of these bands will pave the way for a multitude of new mobile broadband services.

Although it is theoretically slower than LTE, mobile WiMax has the advantage of currently being in existence, albeit in just a few products, whereas the Fixed WiMax, which is in some cases upgradeable to mobile WiMax, is available as a commercial service in some parts of the UK today.

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Ndukwe predicts bleak Yuletide for subscribers

Chief executive, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, has predicted a bleak yuletide for Global System for Mobile communications subscribers in the country, reports Obi Chinemerem.

Speaking at the December edition of the monthly Telecom Consumer parliament in Lagos, Dr. Ndukwe foresaw a gloomy festive season for Nigerians due to deteriorating telecom services.

He also warned operators to live up by improving on their networks through adequate expansion plans.

He stressed that the poor quality of service in the sector is long over due for correction and tasked operators to wake up to this challenge.

“Nigerians would experience network congestion this Christmas season as current infrastructure and transmission facilities may not be able to cope with the expected high volume of traffic, he said.

He noted that unless the service providers expand infrastructure to carry the current capacities in their network which experts say is already over subscribed, the possibility of a smooth holiday telephony would not be achieved this 2007.

Dr. Ndukwe admitted that network problem is a global issue but noted with optimism that “not too long, Nigeria will become one of those best countries in the world if enough capacity is expanded by the operators.”

Although he said that the quality of service in the country has improved as expected, he promised that Nigeria will continue to build infrastructure until we get to an appreciable stage and charged network operators to ameliorate network congestion.

“The problem in the network is carrying capacity. We must continue to build it even up till the next five years. We may not expect a perfect network now. There is not even a perfect network in the developed countries. We need more base stations. Let us hope that network quality will improve especially, this Christmas season, when there will be more congestions in the networks. The operating companies must do something now to abate the impending congestion to the barest minimum”, he said.

He tasked the operators to be proactive and build more capacities in order to abate drop calls.

“We do not have enough capacity to the size of the network. The consumer deserves best QoS. That is the bottom line. It is very important that the operators prepare for the challenges ahead. That is the simple truth of the matter”, Ndukwe said.

According to him, the quality of service leaves the country without much to be desired, while the entry costs and tariffs are still high, the number of complaints about poor service delivery is still unacceptably high and it has been taking too long to address them.

industry, who were present at the occasion, were adviced to stop charging for services they do not render to consumers.

He further stated that consumers be given value for their money when he said that it was wrong and did not conform with international best practices for GSM operators to continue to charge N100 from subscribers migrating from billing options to another.

He also faulted the issue of misleading adverts as he specifically, directed culprits to withdraw misleading adverts, which they are running. According to him, important facts that would aid right decision-making about the service are always missing in the adverts or are in very small print in the adverts.

Lamenting further, he disclosed that the idea behind the consumer parliament was to give consumers the voice to express themselves and to ease the difficulties encountered in lodging complaints, by consumers, Ndukwe noted that there was the need for the operators to expand their human resources in customer care centers across the country.

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Gov. Sambo commends Zinox on Kukah digital centre

Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Mr. Namadi Sambo, has commended premier computer manufacturer in the country, Zinox Technologies for collaborating with the Monsignor Kukah’s Digital Centre, reports Ugochi Nkwocha.

The governor who performed the foundation laying ceremony, expressed delight over the development, adding that the planned training of computer engineers at the centre is most welcome.

He pointed out that given the antecedents of Zinox, this plan would be a plus for the Kakuri community and Kaduna state.

Gov. Sambo enjoined Zinox to help in injecting this new system into young professionals who could take advantage of the foundation and create business opportunities.

While commending the collaboration, he expressed thanks to the Vicar General and the Parish Priest, St Andrew’s Catholic Church, Monsignor Matthew Hassan Kukah, for undertaking such a huge project.

He emphasised that himself, coming from the background of international consultancy is well placed to appreciate what an initiative of this nature could achieve.

He also noted that given the antecedents of the Catholic Church in particular and Monsignor Kukah himself, he had no doubt that this project is set to change the lives of the ordinary people living around Kaduna South and all lovers of education and professionalism.

He stressed that Kaduna State, just recovering from a very difficult phase of its history, having been inundated in the last few years with severe religious crises, that an initiative of this nature has the potential of closing the gaps and ending the frustrations of many young men and women in the society.

He disclosed that the Kaduna state government is prepared to cooperate and collaborate with all individuals and organizations, which are poised to help to change the lives of her people.

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VoIP lobby group debuts

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) pressure group in Europe known as Voice on the Net (VON) Coalition Europe, comprising large suppliers like Google, Intel, Microsoft and Skype, was launched on Friday following regulatory proposals made by the European Commission a month ago.

These proposals included the idea that all VoIP providers should enable calls to the emergency services, reports ZDNet, a United Kingdom-based agency.

In addition, it was gathered that the UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has since mandated that such access must be made available by September 2008.

Leading VoIP providers, such as Skype, disagreed with such proposals, arguing that VoIP is a complement to, rather than a replacement for, traditional telephony services.

According to a press statement made available last Friday, VON Coalition Europe “will work to educate, inform and promote responsible government policies that enable innovation and the many benefits that Internet voice innovations can deliver”.

The group also said, “Internet-enabled communications are an entirely new genre of communications products, services and applications and a new frontier in communications for individuals and businesses alike,” said Stephen Collins, director of global governmental and regulatory affairs at Skype, stressing that in order to unleash their vast benefits, policymakers need to embrace forward-thinking policy approaches.

“If we automatically subject this new technology to legacy telephone regulation, consumers and business users could miss out on the new services, increased choices, better prices and improved features that VoIP, for example, can deliver,” Collins said.

Equally, the coalition claimed that the “premature application of 112 [emergency call] rules to websites, click-to-dial services, one-way PSTN-out interconnected voice services, and other VoIP services that are not a replacement for traditional home/business phone services could actually harm public safety, stifle innovations critical to people with disabilities, stall competition, and limit access to innovative and evolving communication options where there is no expectation of placing a 112 call.”

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

ENUMber may replace email addresses

Cover of the week:

The global telecommunications regulator, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) may introduce ENUMber in the near future to replace series of number-coded facilities an individual may have.

The possibility of latest evolution in telecommunications based on ENUM numbering is predicted to replace electronic mailing system (e-mail) addresses among other new things to come.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts informed that this evolution has the tendency to equally replace telephone numbers, web addresses and any other personal devices whether portable, stationary, mobile or base associated to an individual will be coded with ENUMber.

In other words, any individual with this ENUMber automatically become “A play-station, cell phone, desk phone, car, refrigerator, and maybe family dog will have your ENUMber address attached to it,” one of the concerned experts said.

Our sources also informed that with the latest, “Your ENUMber will replace your email address. ALL your communications can be connected through it,” even as the President of the Swiss Internet User Group (SIUG), Mr. Norbert Bollow, noted that there is a palpable fear over the ENUMber, which raises some severe privacy concerns.

Already, some industry analysts have alleged that ENUMber is a formula to checkmate on the movement and usage of certain facilities by the advanced world despite the generic concept the protagonists are preaching.

Champion Infotel gathered that the clarification of the Radio Frequency Protocol (RFP) of ENUMLLC is due to take place at RFP bidders conference, Richardson, Texas-United States on January 23, 2008.

Some members of the ICT-based Civil Society Groups are calling for caution as we look forward to the outcome of the meeting on RFP come next month.

The Country Code-1 (CC1) Electronic Number Mapping System ENUM Limited Liability Company (ENUMLLC) was created in August, 2004 to address implementation issues surrounding ENUM based on work completed by the ENUM forum, as well as ongoing work at the IETF and ITU-T, the LLC has initiated several work projects.

End-user ENUM platform, the LLC, has created technical specifications that would allow the implementation of ENUM Tier 1A registry services for countries that participate in the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) and the implementation of ENUM Tier 1B registry services for the United States.

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ECOWAS experts endorse cybercrime standards

The Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) experts drawn from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at the weekend, endorsed new standards on combating cyber crime in the sub-region.

This follows the conclusion of a workshop in Lome, Togo, organised by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The workshop also endorsed a roadmap for implementing the guidelines at the sub-regional and national levels as well as the proposed establishment of West African Council on ICTs to monitor implementation of these set standards and other matters related to the Information Society.

Champion Infotel gathered that the latest standards were developed by the ECA in response to a request made by ECOWAS and the West African Monetary Union (UEMOA).

In addition, it is aimed at modernizing the instruments for promoting e-commerce, preserving personal data and curbing cyber crime through the necessary sub-regional and national legislation.

Communications Officer at ECA, Makane Faye, also informed that ECOWAS Heads of States are expected to adopt the guidelines as directives in 2008.

Faye also quoted the Minister of Communication and Civic Education of Togo, Mr. Gahoun Georges Hegbor, while opening the session, noted that regions have to prioritise their takes in ICT based on the most important to them.

He pointed out that these priorities include e-commerce, data protection and fight against cyber crime.

He commended ECA for wanting to bring its support to ECOWAS, UEMOA and their member states to take into account the needs of the Information Society (IS), stressing that this will lead to a concrete operationalization of National Information and Communications Infrastructure (NICI) plans in the region.

The current developments in ICTs within the region, it was gathered represent a major opportunity for the economic development of the continent, especially for boosting regional integration efforts.

Even as it could lead to the emergence of cybercrime and criminal justice systems in ECOWAS would not fully be equipped for dealing with the phenomena. The new guidelines are an important step in addressing some of the gaps in the justice systems.

The workshop attended by ICT experts cutting across lawyers, parliamentarians, private banks, economic operators, academia and economists from West Africa attended the workshop.

Just as ECOWAS, UEMOA, the African Union (AU) Commission, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), the West African Telecommunications Assembly (WATRA) and the International Organization of Francophony (OIF) also attended.

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Remembering Me2U @ this season

Market Intelligence:

In a season like e del Fitri, Christmas and New Year, some products and services come handy in terms of sharing the joy of the season and that is why it is relevant to remember the like of ‘Me2U’ introduced by one of the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM), Celtel Nigeria.

According to the telco Me2U is airtime transfer service that is designed to enable subscribers share airtime also known as credit or top-up on their Celtel lines with their friends and families, also on Celtel lines as frequently as they desire to do so, irrespective of location and time.

Celtel officials stated that some of Me2U benefits include a 24-hour availability, which means that airtime could be sent anytime of the night or during the day

In addition, Celtel explained that subscribers could top up on behalf of family members or friends.

Subscribers could transfer airtime on this platform by sending a text message to 432. This, of course, would be after entering ‘2u [space] [space] [space] .”

For instance, to transfer N50 worth of airtime to subscriber 08021234567, the text sent would read, thus: 2u 08021234567 50 1234, that is where the Personal Identification Number (PIN) is 1234.

The second step involves the sender receiving a Short Messaging Service (SMS) to confirm receipt from 432, which reads; “You have just sent N50 to 08021234567.”

While the third step is that the person receiving the transfer would also receive an SMS confirmation from 432 that will read:

“You have just received N50 from 08020000000.”

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UN endorses Nigeria e-govt model

The United Nations (UN), leading organ for global development, has endorsed the Nigerian model of electronic governance (e-governance) as a viable option for successful deployment of e-government across the world.

The endorsement was given at the recent UN organised International Conference for Electronic Governance (ICEGOV2007), which ended in China weekend.

Executive Vice Chairman, Nigeria eGovernment Strategies Limited (Negst), Dr. Olu Agunloye, who led the delegation to the meeting, informed that the UN was impressed with the public private partnership (PPP) model adopted by the country, particularly in the light of appreciable progress made in deploying e-government structure in Nigeria in recent times.

e-Government refers to government’s use of information technology to exchange information and services with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government.

He stated that the conference provided opportunity for Nigeria to showcase how far it has gone in implementing the e-government initiative, share ideas and create relationship to fast track deployment of e-governance in the country.

Victor Ogunmakin, Director, Head of Service at the Presidency and a member of the Nigerian delegation to ICEGOV2007 said that the seven point agenda of the present administration is driven by IT.

According to him e-government is electronic administration of governance, capable of helping to bridge the digital divide and which Nigeria must speed up implementation, “so as not to be left behind in the comity of nations. Nigeria cannot move ahead unless

e-Government is rigorously implemented.”

He noted that e-Government is a top instrument for reforming e-governance, so it is expedient that the nation quickly put in place a framework for compliance.

A member of Nigerian delegation to the conference, Dr. Jhalil Tafawa Balewa, while speaking on the conference attended by over 59 countries with 27 coming the continent, said private sector participant in the ICEGOV2007 provided an avenue to bench what Nigeria was doing in terms of e-Government with what is happening globally.

He emphasised that full-scale implementation of e-Government in Nigeria would put the nation on equal level with developed countries from around the world.

He stressed the urgent need to spread the news of what e-government holds for the country and why e-Health, for instance, is a part of the conundrum, must be developed.

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Kukah sets up digital centre in Kakuri, partners Zinox

Renowned human rights activist, Rev. Father Matthew Hassan Kukah in partnership with leading Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) in the country, Zinox Computers, launched a digital centre in Kakuri, a suburb of Kaduna State.

The digital centre would serve as a multipurpose and computer training centre is located at Kakuri Government Reserved Area (GRA) of Kaduna State and is equipped with 40 computers to facilitate training of youths, widows and professionals in the state.

Set up as an Internet café, the centre is intended to lay a strong foundation for the emergence of a dynamic, focused and purposeful Kaduna State built on the premise of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Speaking at the foundation laying ceremony of the multipurpose centre and commissioning of the Kukah Digital centre at the weekend, the founder, the Vicar General of the Arch Diocese of Kaduna and Parish Priest of St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, Kakuri, Fr. Kukah, noted that apart from bringing ICT closer to the parishioners in the state, the centre is meant to create harmony and arrest the frustration among youth in the community by engaging them positively.

He expressed the hope that by setting up an ultra modern resource centre that young people might then be able to get a slight view into the future and “see what challenges and hopes there are for a better tomorrow and turn away from the violence that has become a part of their lives.”

Fr. Kukah also said at the occasion graced by the Executive Governor of Kaduna, Mr. Namadi Sambo, and his deputy, Mr. Patrick Yakowa as well as Archbishop of Kaduna, His Grace Peter Y. Jatau that the internet facility would make it possible for the old and young to network with people of like minds in far and near places.

He explained that the complex, a multi-purpose centre would accommodate his vision to touch the lives of a cross section of the citizenry, citing for instance that it would be a centre for the retraining of widows, that most vulnerable section of the society.

“These widows would be encouraged to acquire new skills, possibly IT based, towards achieving a sustainable means of livelihood.

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Citizen journalism democratises multi-media technologies – Salawu

Head, Department of Media and Communications Studies, Ajayi Crowther University, Nigeria, Dr. Abiodun Salawu, has described citizen journalism as the democratisation of the multi-media technologies by the people and for the people.

Speaking at the just concluded third regional workshop on Medias and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) issues in West Africa held in Dakar, capital of Senegal, he was emphatic that the tide has changed in the modules of disseminating or receiving information.

The workshop which has its theme as ‘New technologies, new journalism and improved governance,’ and attracted participants from Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia, Cameroon, Namibia, South Africa, The Gambia, Togo, Canada, Guinea Conakry and Ivory Coast.

He also described citizen journalism as secular process of passing information in this age, saying that even the journalism training institutions need to wake up and ensure that they are up-to-date in the use of ICT in the profession.

“Senders of the message have become the receivers as well as interactional, thus not a one way communications any more,” Dr. Salawu declared, pointing out that there is a change of roles among citizens, hence citizen journalism avails a secular process in the way we distribution information and news particularly.

He also said that newspapers industry need to do is to restrategise but definitely they would not be extinct.

As much as we accept the democratic participation of citizens in neo-journalism, there is need to reposition by media

In citizen journalism, Dr. Salawu equally said that its horizontal in nature and receivers of information ought to be active receivers and should not be left in the hands of professionals.

He further identified lack of writing culture among West Africans especially where the ICT infrastructure are not readily available and affordable.

“Writing culture may hamper citizen journalism in developing economies like Nigeria,” he noted.

Although he expressed concern over what some protagonists have said would be the drawing line between citizen journalists and professional journalists, mostly now that everyone could in the actual sense practice journalism.

“My fear is that the theory of non-professionalism journalism may still drag down the spirit of professionalising journalism,” he warned.

Equally speaking to over 60 participants, the African Editor of a ‘citizen journalism’ aggregator, Global Voices, Mr. Ndesanjo Macha, said that citizen journalism has impacted greatly to the avalanche of information available today on the Internet and has given boost to information sharing among the peoples of the world.

This, he said, has been more evident in emergencies such as London bombing and collapsing of a bridge in one of the United States region, which were captured initially by mere citizens with their mobile camera phones before the journalists even learnt about it.

The likes of Cable Network (CNN) and BBC have introduced means of incorporating ‘citizen journalists’ news from their audience.

While calling on African media organisations to emulate this path, Mr. Macha stressed those citizen journalists rather than taking over the work of professional journalists, compliments themselves.

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I4J is novel – NITTA organisers

The organisers of the Nigeria Information Technology and Telecom Awards (NITTA-07) have described the Internet-for-Job (I4J) initiative of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) as a novel.

The organisers of NITTA-07, which is in its sixth year, IT & Telecom Digest stated in the citation of NIG president, Mr. Lanre Ajayi as the Information Technology (IT) Personality of the Year 2007, that the I4J initiative, was borne out of genuine concern over the usage of the Internet among Nigerian youths and was aimed at encouraging the use of Internet as a platform for job creation.

NITTA organisers also noted that while commendations poured in for this initiative, the man who has exhibited a consistency in character in the last nearly two decades sees this laudable move as the start of a revolution in the use of the Internet.

They pointed out that as the co-founder of NIG in 1995, and an electrical engineer, Mr. Ajayi, has so much going for him, mostly in a little over a year of his tenure as NIG president, adding that he had accomplished more than any of his predecessors, even as it would not be a surprise for those who know him.

Recently, concerned with the use Nigerian youths have put the Internet, Ajayi established the novel Internet for Jobs (I4J) initiative aimed at promoting the Internet as a platform for job creation,» the citation read, just as commendations are pouring in for this initiative, while the man behind it all has maintained consistency in character in the last nearly two decades, thus he sees this laudable move as the start of a revolution in the use of the Internet.

As said by the organisers, Ajayi has exhibited the same passion into every of his activities, encompassing his days at the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), which lasted for 11 years, stressing that as a core member of NITEL’s Research and Development team, he has associated with a number of designs and devices which became the first set of patents held by NITEL, even as he remained the designer of the External Line Plant Monitoring Device; the anti-cable theft device, which was a response to the national menace of vandalisation of telecommunication cables.

In addition, Mr. Ajayi was quoted in the citation as a key player in the team that developed a Nigerian Digital Exchange known as ‘the Eagle project’ at a laboratory in the world famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States of America in 1990.

Mr. Ajayi’s leadership qualities could easily discovered, especially as seen in his contributions to the ISP Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) as the Vice-President and Vice-Chairman of African ISP Association (AfrISPA), just as he had served on the council of the Nigerian Computer Society (NCS) as the Chairman of Research and Statistics committee, Chairman of NIG Technical committee on the Nigeria Country code (.ng) Top level domain name. He was also the Chairman of ISPAN committee on the implementation of the Nigeria Internet Exchange Point (NIXP) to name a few. Married with children, Mr. Ajayi is NITTA 2007 IT Personality of the Year,» the organizers declared.

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Ekpiwhre commends Omatek e-Xpress

Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs. Grace Ekpiwhre has commended Omatek e-Xpress, saying it is an initiative capable of boosting IT penetration in the country.

Speaking after a working visit to Omatek factory in Opebi, last weekend, reiterating the essence for all Nigerians to own, at least, a Personal Computer by taking advantage of the Government Assisted Purchase Programme (GAPP) launched by the Federal Government as the Computer for All Nigerian Initiative (CANI), which Omatek is championing through e-Xpress.

She commended Omatek for aligning its existing computer consumer scheme called e-Xpress with CANi.

Champion Infotel recalled that Omatek e-Xpress computer consumer initiative, launched two years before CANI, has realized its own funding of N1.5 Billion each for about 10 states and N500 million each for about 10 universities.

According to her, she was impressed with the effort of Omatek in affording Nigerians to take advantage of this funding arrangement.

She commended the collaborating banks that are currently financing the initiative and called on other financial institutions to emulate them.

More exciting for her, she noted was the seeing first hand a Completely-Knocked-Down (CKD) factory, that is, not different from what she had seen in Asia, stressing that she was happy.

She affirmed that there was vast opportunity for Small and Medium Enterprises to spring up after seeing operating capacity of the Omatek factory, hence she commended the Omatek boss for creating a lot of job opportunity for the Nigerian youths and also for her effort at transferring technology to young Nigerians.

Furthermore, describing CANi as a veritable platform for computer ownership she asked all OEMS to collaborate with CANi now being coordinated by NITDA to make computer acquisition easier for all Nigerians. She called on all stakeholders and professional bodies to come together to move the industry forward.

Welcoming her, the chief executive, Omatek computers, Mrs. Florence Seriki, expressed confidence in the Minister’s ability to move the ICT industry to greater height while calling all to support the minister in her new office.

She was quick to request for the minister to help re-instate the 0% duty and ensure the sustenance of the policy on local patronage that was passed in the last administration. She explained how Omatek now purchases from the same main manufacturers like the foreign brands and the challenges of Large Quantity (MOQ) required from these high profile manufacturers.

She explained how for example Omatek buys an MOQ order of Motherboard of one 20ft container containing 6000 pieces, while a foreign brand would buy over 10 containers at a time from the same manufacturers and end up sending over 70 per cent back to Africa. This, thus creates price challenges and the need for Africans, especially Nigerians and Ghanaians to celebrate their own.

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ICANN shops for NomCom members

The Nominating Committee (NomCom) of the Internet Corporation for Assign Names and Numbers (ICANN), is shopping for six interested members of the Internet community to fill leadership positions in its board.

ICANN is an internationally organised, public benefit, non-profit corporation dedicated to: preserving the operational security and stability of the Internet; promoting competition; achieving broad representation of global Internet communities; and supporting the development of policies appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes.

While it’s Nominating Committee (Nom Com) is an independent committee tasked with selecting a majority of the members of ICANN’s Board of Directors and other positions within ICANN’s Supporting Organisations.

In the request of statements of interest, ICANN seeks qualified candidates to assist in the organisation’s technical and policy coordination role.

A copy of the request made available to Champion Infotel, stated that interested individuals should submit a Statement-of-Interest to this year’s committee for the posts of two members of the ICANN Board of Directors, a member for the council of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), and council of the Country-Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) respectively as well as two members of the At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC).

According to the request, individuals selected by the NomCom would have a unique opportunity to work with accomplished colleagues from around the globe, address the Internet’s intriguing technical coordination problems and policy development challenges with diverse functional, cultural, and geographic dimensions, and gain valuable insights and experience from working across boundaries of knowledge, responsibility and perspective.

Those selected will gain the satisfaction of making a valuable public service contribution towards the continued function and evolution of an essential global resource.

ICANN also said that considering the broad public interest, nominees would work to achieve the goals towards which the body is dedicated in order to facilitate the Internet’s critically important societal functions.

Currently board members who have been selected by the Nominating Committee include Harald Tveit Alvastrand, Susan Crawford, Roberto Gaetano, Steven Goldstein, Dennis Jennings, Rajasekhar Ramaraj, Njeri Rionge, and Jean-Jacques Subrenat.

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‘Nokia N82 is camera-centric’

Mobile handset manufacturer, Nokia, has launched four of its new multimedia products in the Nseries into the nation’s market, describing them as ‘what cameras have become.’

These included N95 8GB, N81 SD, N81 N-Gage and the N95 8GigaByte.

But singling out Nokia N82, the Product Manager, Nokia Nigeria, Mr. Jude Omozogie, told Champion Infotel that the multimedia features in N82 is what cameras have become at this age of evolving Information and Communication Technology (ICT) where people what to be extremely mobile in all their actions.

Mr. Omozogie accompanied by the Area Manager, Nokia Nigeria, Mr. Fady Khatib and Account Manager, Nokia Nigeria, Mr. Femi Oshinlaja and Communications Manager, Mrs Ngozi Efe Anene, explained that Nokia N82, is the latest multimedia computer that has been optimized for photography, navigation and Internet connectivity.

“With the tools to discover the places and moments worth capturing, and the capabilities to capture and share them instantaneously, the Nokia N82 offers photography enthusiasts an enhanced camera experience,” he said.

According to him, users of Nokia N82 could discover, capture and share their discovery with families and friends through the multimedia features or online, describing it as ideal for modern media practitioners, specifically.

“The Nokia N82 enables users to explore surroundings and find your way with navigation and routing; document your adventures with the high quality imaging capabilities; and instantly share your experiences with one click upload to the web,” he said excitedly.

Mr. Omozogie added that N82 comes with grade A level of Global Positioning System (A-GPS), Map, 5 mega pixel camera, xenon flash, Carl Zeiss optics and internet connectivity.

In addition, he said that Nokia N82 incorporates all the multimedia computer features common to Nokia Nseries.

“Like its predecessor the Nokia N95, the Nokia N82 is the latest epitome of a truly converged device that is not one thing but is many,” he said.

Area Manager, Nokia Nigeria, Mr. Fady Khatib in his comment, noted that the evolution of camera capabilities in mobile devices has been fast-tracked over the past years.

“With the Nokia N82 we have reached such a superior level in image quality, speed and ease of use that not only does it outperform any other camera-phone in the market, but its also a very credible alternative for single purpose digital still cameras,” he declared.

Stressing that Nokia N82 equally allows users to navigate and discover new places, enjoy music, browse the web, play games, chat online and be part of the global web 2.0 community wherever they may be.

He emphasized that these features were made possible, courtesy of the wireless broadband connectivity, convergence and yet again increased performance, hence Nokia N82 is all any busy mobile executive needs in their pockets.

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Visafone enters market in style

Unified Access Service licensee, Visafone has entered into the nation’s communications with a style.

In a section with newsmen in Lagos, the leadership of Visafone including the Managing Director and chief executive, Mr. Ninan Thomas, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Mr. Vinod Shah, and Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Mr. Varadaraja Rao, assured to give competition a run for their money.

The session attended by Visafone strategic partners cum dealers, was tagged an ‘Evening with the CEO,’ saw to the unveiling of the new management’s strategies for the company and increase its market share in the country.

On Visafone’s emergence, Mr. Thomas pointed out that while Nigerians celebrate the revolution created by the telecommunications, they also have avalanche of challenges, adding that Visafone has come as solution provider, by changing the trend of things, especially in business of communication.

“We will offer the best in terms of Quality of Service (QoS), voice clarity, seamless connectivity, wide coverage, mobile, high speed data via Third Generation (3G) and a host of fantastic value added services,” he said.

He also noted that Visafone has invested heavily to ensure it stands out through a number of strategic acquisitions to help position the telco for a pan-Nigerian launch commercial launch billed for the New Year.

As said by him, these acquisitions already guaranteed the company almost 100,000 subscribers and coverage in 40 cities and 13 states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

Champion Infotel gathered that Mr. Thomas comes to Visafone with experience and expertise drawn from both finance and telecoms sector. For instance, after launching his career at BPL Telecom / Tata in 1989, he left in1996 to join Motorola as the Engineering Project Leader with multiple awards to show for it, mostly as the best managed project.

Mr. Thomas was later to move on to Motorola Philippines as Programme Manager for a joint venture with Nextel.

In addition, he returned to India in 2001 to join the executive team that built Reliance Infocom, one of the world’s largest mobile service providers. Before coming to Visafone, Ninan had a short stint as VP Operations at UT Starcoms, Chicago.

For Mr. Vinod Shah, a telecommunications engineer with varied and interesting career beginning from the telecommunications wing of the Indian Army where he served for over 21 years and rising to the rank of Colonel.

While his private sector career started in 1997 at Info Electronics Systems prior to his joining Tata Tele Services, a part of the US$22bn Tata Group, as Chief Technology Officer where he was in-charge of complete teams for planning, project management and operation of the network.

As for Mr. Varadaraja Rao who is not new in the nation’s telecom market having joined Visafone from Multilinks Limited, where he held the position of Chief Technical Officer with primary responsibility for operations and network rollout. Varadaraja was also responsible for international sales, marketing & brand promotion of turnkey telecom systems and services.

Even as Visafone, a wholly owned Nigerian telecommunications company is being promoted by foremost banker and chief executive of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Jim Ovia.

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Glo hits fair with rule & win promo

The second national operator (SNO), Globacom, has hit the on-going Port Harcourt International Trade fair with its recently introduced promotion, rule and win.

Officials of the telco, said that subscribers of Globacom, are having good time with the excitement being generated by the promo.

Our sources said that the prospect of winning in the Win & Rule Promo introduced days ago by the network to reward loyal subscribers is gathering moment.

“Many of them who have been visiting the Glo pavilion at the ongoing 2007 Port Harcourt International Trade Fair expressed optimism that they would win one of the choice cars on offer for subscribers by Globacom,” our sources said.

Champion Infotel, recalled that Globacom recently introduced the WIN & RULE promo dangling 500 cars for its loyal customers both for the existing and new subscribers would have the opportunity of winning their choice cars on offer.

“The cars include 200 Kia Rio, 150 Nissan Sunny, 100 Peugeot 307, 38 BMW 3 Series and 12 Mercedes C360,” official stated.

Stressing that all that is required is for the subscriber to recharge his or her Glo line between N500 and over N10,000 every two weeks to qualify for the draws for the cars.

Explaining that many of those who make enquiries was on the premise that the new promo would favour, even as they commended Globacom for introducing another customer reward package for the benefit of its subscribers nationwide.

Equally, Glo is dishing lots of gift items daily to those who pay a visit to its stand, including such as T-Shirts, Caps and Bandanas.

In addition, a daily promo is also on-going in which subscribers could win one camera handset and recharge cards worth thousands of Naira throughout the duration of the Fair.

Globacom is a wholly Nigeria company which began operation in the last four years and has been noted to be in forefront of empowering Nigerians to realize their fullest potentials by placing GSM services and other associative value adding services at their disposal at very affordable costs.

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Celtel takes 0708 to PH fair

LEADING Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) operator and Third Generation (3G) compliant, Celtel Nigeria, has taken its products and services to the ongoing third Port Harcourt International Trade Fair 2007.

Public Relations Manager at Celtel Nigeria, Mr. Emmanuel Otokhine, said that the telco stormed the fair with its new mobile access code or number, 0708, and a vast array of customer and purse friendly products as well as services, including the Celtel Family and Friends (Celtel FAF) tariff plan.

He quoted the General Manager, South South Region, at Celtel, Mr. Imeh James, as saying that throughout the fair, the telco would offer visitors the opportunity to purchase the products and services, which has made the company the mobile operator of choice in the market place.

According to Mr. James, visitors to the company’s stand who makes a purchase are also being offered the chance to win fantastic prizes through lucky dip competition.

The company said potential customers who desire to purchase the new number, 0708xxx number range, could do so at the fair.

“Other products and services such as Me2U or airtime transfer service, 0808xxx number range, Unity Tariff, Nigeria’s first and only flat GSM tariff plan, Celtel Payphone or Celtel Red phone, credit me, Mobile Office or “Email from Everywhere to Everywhere”, Toll free line, Celtel Access or Internet Access, and SME pack, are be available at the company’s stand.

He added that Celtel Family and Friends tariff plan is an inexpensive tariff service designed for every Celtel Prepaid customer, thus allowing Celtel customer to call the phone numbers of five numbers registered under the family and friends service at lower call rate.

He said that experts from Celtel are at the fair to assist customers in registering for family and friends free of charge.

Also, Celtel toll free line is a postpaid number designed for corporate organizations and Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which makes it possible for customers who call them not to be charged for the calls otherwise known as (called party pays) are available at the fair. As said by officials, the service enables organisations to increase and retain their customer base.

Another product on offer at the company’s stand is Celtel Mobile Office or an email solution, which enables the users to send email from everywhere to everywhere and to access their office Calendar, Contacts, and Email.

Celtel “Me2U” is airtime transfer service enables customers to share airtime (credit) on their Celtel lines with their friends, family members and business associates as frequently as they desire, 24 hours a day, irrespective of location.

Members of the public can also obtain information on Celtel Credit Me, a service that enables users of Celtel lines to prompt other Celtel customers to send them airtime either through Me2U or a recharge card or voucher.

James said Celtel staff will attend to customers queries as well as provide some other customer care services during the Fair. He urged those desiring to know more about Celtel products and services to also visit the company’s stand at the Fair.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Telecoms: Unprecedented poor service to hit Lagos

Unprecedented poor telecom quality of service (QoS) may soon take over the commercial nerve centre of the nation, Lagos, due to the excesses of the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA), says the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).

This is coming as the group said its ready for dialogue, that is, only if it would be meaningful, as being solicited by LASIMRA.

Reacting to the incessant arrests and detention of telcom officials from its member companies in Lagos, over what LASIMRA alleged as unlawful laying of infrastructure, ALTON said that the trend would impact adversely not only to the development of telecommunications in the country, but also to Lagos as the nerve centre of the nation and would be drastically hit with the increased poor quality of services across the networks.

ALTON chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, said their attention have been drawn to some media adverts inciting communities against telecom operators sponsored by LASIMRA, asking those communities to call the agency on sighting of telcos site engineers.

He added that the most worrisome now is the arrests of site engineers and confiscation of their tools as well as cables.

“It is with considerable concern that we draw attention to recent closure of some operators’ sites on the orders of the General Manager of LASIMRA,” he said, lamenting that ALTON major concern is that this act of disregard for the rule of law is coming from a state led by Mr. Babatunde Tunde Fashola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

“We are concerned by the grave disregard for the rule of law demonstrated by LASIMRA and the potentially deleterious consequences of these act,” he declared, adding that telecom regulation is an exclusive of the federal government.

Champion Infotel recalled that on February 25, 2007, a federal high court presided over by Justice Joseph Auta, delivered judgement in favour of ALTON in suit No. FHC/L/CS/517/06, which was on registered trustees of ALTON & Ors versus Lagos State Government & Ors.
Mr. Adebayo pointed out that the court action challenged the existence of Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (IMRA) Law, through which the Lagos State Government sought to regulate the activities of telecom operators within the state.

He noted that based on the judgement, telecommunications is still a matter under the exclusive legislative list of the 1999 Constitution and accordingly “no State Government or State House of Assembly has the jurisdiction to legislate on it, any such legislation is null and void.”

In addition, Justice Auta, emphasised that it seeks to regulate the activities of telecoms operators in Lagos State, therefore, the IMRA law is an encroachment on the Nigerian Communications Act, a Federal Legislation which “covers the field” with respect to the regulation of telecommunications infrastructure in Nigeria.

Consequently, the court granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Lagos State Government, the Attorney-General of Lagos State and the Inspector General of Police (whether by themselves or by their agents) from implementing the IMRA law against ALTON.

“It is thus abundantly clear that neither the Lagos State government nor LASIMRA have the powers to regulate telecoms operators,” he said, stressing that LASIMRA has posted ‘Stop Work Order’ on a number of sites currently being built by operators in Lagos State, thus hampering the ability of telcos to deploy more capacity in Lagos and environ.

Precisely, he said, that on Wednesday, November 21, ALTON received a report of employees of Starcomms arrested whilst working on a site in Ketu Area of Lagos.

“Three of them were arrested with equipment and tools worth several thousand of dollars seized from them,” he said and following high level intervention, the men were released and the General Manager, LASIMRA, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, insisted that work must not continue on those sites, and as we speak, the sites remained closed on the order of LASIMRA according to a notice posted on the site,” he said.

Equally, ALTON said that on the same day, four engineers working on an MTN site on Ikorodu Road were arrested at 11.30am, assaulted and detained at a police station known as Government Monitoring Team (GMT) Alausa Car Park Ikeja.

“Several materials were seized from them including antennas, feeder cable and measuring tools which can not be quantified because they were not allowed to take inventory of things seized from them before they were bundled into waiting trucks and driven to detention at the GMT Alausa Ikeja,” ALTON decried.

The group further said that the excuse that LASIMRA’s town-planning responsibilities also extend to “the control of sitting and erection of buildings…” and that “the foundations of base-stations are comparable to those of, at least, a storey building,” is not acceptable.

ALTON said, it finds this excuse entirely unacceptable in the light of the specific pronouncements of Justice Auta in his judgement:

“I believe this is an encroachment on the powers of the NCC… the Lagos State Government is camouflaging under urban planning… the driving force of the law is just to make money for the State, as the state already has numerous laws dealing with urban planning …”

ALTON member companies, he revealed, could no longer access sites for routine maintenance of existing network elements, alleging that LASIMRA agents now prevent workers access to deploy capacity on the various networks.

While apologising to Nigerians over the deteriorating quality of service in the country, he warned that this may increase, especially in Lagos State as end of the year festivity draws near with tendency for increased traffic.

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NCS invests Uwadia as 10th president

Professor of Computer Science, Charles O. Uwadia was at the weekend invested as the 10th national president of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) in a ceremony held in Lagos.

NCS is the umbrella body of about six industry interest groups in the Information Technology (IT) industry, from students and professionals including the IT Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN), Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Software Developers Group (SDG) and National Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS) among others.

Chairman of the occasion and Managing Director, Chams Nigeria Limited, Mr. Ademola Aladekomo, said he has known Prof. Uwadia over the years and is optimistic that he would deliver as president of NCS.

He also said that though NCS in recent years has made some giant strides, there is need to sustain the growth of these strides with the co-operation of all stakeholders including the government.

“We know you for your input so far in the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), we know you for your achievements,” he said, advising him to keep the vision of Information Technology and professionals burning in the country.

Even as he called on the government to pay due respect to indigenous IT professionals and companies because they have what it takes to compete globally.

Immediate past president, NCS and chief executive, Condata Systems Limited, Dr. Chris Nwannenna, described his successor as an amiable, trusted hand and reliable personality.

Expressing optimism on the capabilities of Prof. Uwadia to deliver, Dr. Nwannenna said he is able to take NCS to the next level, higher than what he had achieved during his four years in office.

While praying for his successor, Dr. Nwannenna equally implored him to ensure that positive legacies of the past leadership of the society is not destroyed.

“Do not lay asunder all that have been toiled for over the years, because NCS has grown stronger,” he said and welcomed back some returnees into the society including Mr. Aladekomo and Prof. Ayeni.

“I welcome you to investiture of Uwadia. He is a man am well pleased,” he asserted.Dr. Nwannenna later decorated Prof. Uwadia with the NCS seal of presidency.

Responding, Prof. Uwadia, said that NCS has come a long way right from its inception in 1978 and agreed giant strides have been made towards excellence and promotion of IT in the country.

NCS, he pointed out, has contributed immensely in the last three decades, just as he did not forgot the roles of its member groups such as ISPAN, SPON, ITAN and Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) to name a few.

Prof. Uwadia enjoined members to pay up their annual subscriptions to enable the secretariat have sufficient fund to carry out its mandates.

“Without fund, good ideas would not come to realty,” he declared.

Some NCS individual members who have supported the society extra-ordinarily, were recognised, and long service awards were given to staff.

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