" ITREALMS: January 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007

MDC meets NCC deadline, pays N51.4 bn

The latest licensee in the Unified Licensing Regime (ULR), the Mubadala Development Company (MDC) of the United Arab Emirate (UAE), has met the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), requirement to pay the full licensing fee of $400 million within eight days of acquiring the license.

Confirming this development, Head, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Dave Imoko, said that MDC adhered to time by completing payment before the close of business last Friday, January 19, 2007.

According to him, NCC is pleased to announce the award of a Unified Access Service Licence to Mubadala Development Company of the United Arab Emirates.

This, he said, followed the confirmation of the payment of the full licence fee of $400million, about N51.4 billion.

He also said that the license includes a mobile license and spectrum in the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) on 1800 and 900 Mega Hertz (MHz) bands.

He equally said that the latest license would increase telecommunications offerings nationwide through the award of radio spectrum to MDC.

Mr. Imoko explained that license was as a result of a bilateral agreement between UAE and Nigeria.

He recalled that the terms of offer specified that Mubadala pay the full license fee on or before 19th January 2007 and failing which, the offer shall automatically lapse.

Mubadala has accepted the terms of the offer made on January 11, in full and in accordance last Friday, made full payment to that effect.

In a related development, the board of NCC announced its resolve to continue with the licensing of radio spectrum in the Third Generation (3G) and 450 MHz bands.

Mr. Imoko further said that these new licenses would encourage the deployment of advanced technology to build on the positive development of the telecommunications sector in the country.

Importantly, the release of more spectrum supports the government's policy of improving access to communication services and extending coverage, especially into rural areas. Just as subscribers could also expect to receive an increased range of services, improved quality of service and better value for money,

The process for awarding new licenses has incorporated the appointment of PA Consulting Group, a leading firm of international management and telecommunications consultants with operation in over 35 countries globally.

MDC is a wholly owned investment chain of the government of Emirate of Abu Dhabi, in the UAE.

Mubadala invests in a wide range of strategic sectors including energy, utilities, real estate, public-private partnerships, basic industries and services so as to diversify and further develop the rapidly growing economy of Abu Dhabi , while achieving superior returns on its investments.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Don’t assent to IT bill – JACITAD urges Obj

Swearing in ... L-r JACITAD president, Mr. Sola Fanawopo with his vice, Mr. Don Pedro Aganbi during their recent swearing in ceremony held in Lagos. Photo: itrealms online
Another controversy may be looming in the industry as a non-government organisation (NGO) focusing on Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), has urged President Olusegun Obasanjo to withhold his assent to the passed Information Technology (IT) Commission Bill, over an alleged sabotage.

The NGO alleged that what was passed by the National Assembly is at variance with what is before Mr. President.

The NGO known as the Joint Action Committee on ICT Awareness and Development (JACITAD) said, it has discovered some anomalies in the bill before the president and which is capable of undermining the management of the nation’s Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD).

It would be recalled that in the last six years, there have been lots of controversies surrounding the management of .ng, the nation’s ccTLD, which is the Internet address used for identification of Nigeria on the World Wide Web (www), just as United Kingdom is .uk, South Africa is .za, among others.

In a letter to President Obasanjo dated Monday, January 15, 2007, cornered by ITRealms Online, JACITAD through its President, Mr. Sola Fanawopo, said that there exist some inclusions in the passed IT law that may subvert the aspiration of the Nigerian internet community.

JACITAD, he said, would like to bring to the urgent attention of Mr President that the Bill seeking to establish the National Information Technology Commission, empowering it to plan, develop and promote the use of IT in the country, includes provision that “threatens to undermine Internet growth in Nigeria."

He recalled that consequent upon the intervention of President Obasanjo who brokered peace among those contending for the ownership and management of the national resource, he gave directive that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) should take over supervision of setting up of a ccTLD manager.

This, in the guidelines of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) should be in the form of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that represents the common interest of the nation’s Internet community.

Mr Fanawopo, noted that though this NGO, came on stream as the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), certain provisions smuggled into the final Bill are capable of “hijacking the smooth running of this body if the law goes into effect.”

He said that currently final bill before Mr. President is totally a different version of what the National Assembly passed and thus there is a looming controversy in the ICT sector that could last for a long time to come.

"Significantly, the version that was passed by the National Assembly is at variance with proposals forwarded by the Nigerian internet community during series of extensive public hearings of which various stakeholders including JACITAD participated", he stated in the letter co-signed by the Secretary-General of JACITAD, Mr. Prince Osuagwu.

"We would also like to place on record that certain provisions were not included in the draft Bill that was presented to stakeholders during the review and subsequent public hearing undertaken at the National Assembly on the matter", they alleged.

He also recalled that in accordance with the directive of Mr. President, NITDA, an agency of the Federal Ministry Science and Technology (FMST) was appointed 'Technical Contact' to ensure the successful berthing of NIRA.

Confirming the looming controversy, founder of Technology Times and member Board of Trustees (BoT) of NIRA, Mr Shina Badaru, told our correspondent that other stakeholders, through their representatives on NIRA have also expressed concern over the disclosure that the final version of the Bill that was passed, "was not the version that was presented for review by stakeholders."

He said, "We were surprised to see that some supplementary provisions have made their way into the final version of the Bill that was passed which grant broad powers to NITDA or any other agency created by the proposed law over what should ordinarily, reflect the diversity of the Nigerian internet community."

Mr. Badaru emphasised that JACITAD aligns its position to that of industry stakeholders who condemned the sabotage and demanded for its immediate review.

"We align our position with that of other ICT industry stakeholders who believe that the passed law calls for urgent review as the foundation of the domain name management is quite pivotal to the growth and development of a virile Internet community in Nigeria," he said.

He emphasised that provisions in the passed IT bill, according unimaginable powers to NITDA or any other government agency formed thereof, definitely negates the purpose of directive for the conciliatory stance of Mr President and that of ICANN, the global Internet coordinating agency.Efforts to reach the Head, Public Affairs at NITDA, Mr. Inye Kemabonta, proved were not successful.
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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tougher competition awaits Nigerian telcos

As this year’s business takes of after the Yuletide and Sallah seasons in Nigeria, tougher competition awaits telecommunications companies.

This prediction was made by the Executive Director of a Unified Licensed Operator, MultiLinks Telecommunications Limited, Chief Ezekiel Fatoye in Lagos.

The former director in the nation’s first carrier, the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), said that the prediction is based on the avalanche of telcos aspiring for the unified license in the country.

He recalled that as at date, about nine telcos have been issued license and more are still coming for unified license, noting that only last week, the regulator, approved the UL for a United Arab Emirate-based Mudabala Development Company (MDC) to the tune of $400 million.

“This year would be tougher as competition is expected to increase,” he asserted.

Additionally, he said, those that got licenses before MDC, are also warming up for the keen competition including the MultiLink.

He stressed that at the moment, competition in the nation’s telecommunications market place has been elevated from mere voice to data with special focus on Value Added Services (VAS).

“Value added is the future competition,” he said.

To this end, he disclosed that MultiLinks plans to be aggressive in its strategies, most especially on marketing.“We’re going to be very aggressive this year,” Chief Fatoye said, emphasising, for instance, that his telco began the year with the introduction of Per Second Billing (PSB) into the network.

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Nigerian networks are more stable now – Adebayo

Newly elected chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, has declared that telecommunications networks in the country have become more stable.

Reviewing the just ended year in a chat with correspondent in Lagos, Mr. Adebayo said that networks have improved considerably, especially towards the last quarter of 2006.

“One would like to say that towards the end of last year till now, the networks were a lot more stable than they were at the beginning of last year,” he said.

Mr. Adebayo also said that stakeholders in communications sub-sector of the economy, engendered growth by the determination of interconnect rate among network operators.

He stressed that was not the case at the beginning of last year, noting that the determination of interconnect rate was further strengthened by the appropriate rate proposal by the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

“At the end of the day, generally, I think we had very stable telecom industry in 2006,” he said.

In addition, he said, that quality of service (QoS) formed top of discussions in early 2006, but has since been overcome following improved services visible today in the nation’s telecom sector.

He further assured that ALTON under his leadership would endeavour to consolidate on that in 2007.

“One would like to say that towards the end of last year till now, the networks were a lot more stable than they were at the beginning of last year,” he reassured.

He pointed out that such stories like problem of interconnection was fully addressed.

“And I think now the story of interconnectivity has become the story of the past,” he said.

Mr. Adebayo noted that the issue of interconnectivity, for instance, was an issue before last year, “but now more networks are seeing each other,” recalling that even some interconnect clearing houses also came on board. “Generally, 2006 was good for the industry but I expect that 2007 would be better,” he said.

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Mubadala gets unified license in Nigeria

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced the award of another Unified License (UL) to the United Arab Emirates (UBA)-based Mubadala Development Company (MDC) for the tune of license for $400m, about N51.4 billion.

This brings the number of licensees to nine since the Unified Licensing Regime (ULR), began on March 1, 2006.

The first batch of Unified Licences were awarded to Multi-Links Telecommunications Limited, Prest Cable & Satellite TV Systems Limited, Intercellular Nigeria PLC and Starcomms Limited, while the second batch included VGC Communications Limited, MTN Nigeria, Dan Jay Telecoms Limited and Bourdex Telecoms.

MDC’s latest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) group has the former Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Mr. Akeem Bello-Osagie as its principal local person.

HANA recalls that on March 1, 2006, industry regulator, NCC, introduced the Unified Licensing Regime (ULR), terminating the five-year exclusivity on the licensing of Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) license, while the 15-year GSM license continue.

NCC, in a press statement made available to correspondent, said that ULR would open up the telecoms market for players who are in a position to offer multiple services without being limited to either fixed or mobile services.

Validating this development in a telephone chat, Head, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Dave Imoko, who also endorsed the press statement, said the steps taken so far by the commission witnessed a successful conclusion following the licensing of Mubadala as the latest entrant into the nation’s telecom market.

Mr. Imoko noted that on December 15, 2006, NCC’s board declared its intension to conduct auction of radio-spectrum in the 1800 MHz, 3G and 450 MHz, bands, which led to the new license to MDC.

The new license attracts 900 Mega Hertz (MHz) and 1800MHz spectrum offered to the consortium as the first of its kind in the history of telecom in the country. Previously, telcos mostly the four GSM operators, namely Glo mobile, MTN Nigeria, Celtel Nigeria and M-Tel operate, before the end of five-year exclusivity on 40 MHz spectrum package, consisting of 2x5 MHz in the 900MHz band and 2x15MHz in the 1800MHz band specifically for data delivery services, just as they have 15-year licenses.

Imoko further said that the new licence would attract more investment into the communications market and encourage the deployment of advanced technology to continue the development of telecommunications in Nigeria.

The allocation of more spectrums, he said, would provide an opportunity to attract new operators intending to invest and launch telecommunications services in the country.

He explained that the availability of more spectrums is in support of the federal government’s policy of improving access to communication services and extending coverage, especially into rural areas.

Pointing out that it would also afford subscribers to receive an increased range of services, quality of service and better value for money.

Founded in 2002, the UAE-based Mubadala Development Company is an investment conglomerate owned wholly by the government of Abu Dhabi.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

ALTON, NIG, ATCON task Nigerians on 2007

In the spirit of New Year, the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) and Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) have tasked both the populace and government on how to move the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector forward.

Whereas ALTON called on the government to reduce the tax payable on importation of telecommunications equipment, NIG stressed on adaptation of technologies especially the Internet into daily activities in the country, even as ATCON offered advice to Nigerians on the forthcoming general election, saying only candidates with ICT at heart should be considered.

The three groups spoke through their leaders including ALTON chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, NIG president, Mr. Lanre Ajayi and ATCON president, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem.

For Mr. Adebayo, while wishing Nigerians a blissful 2007, noted it is a critical year that requires immense support for the leadership of the government given that it is an election year.

This, he said, would boost their moral to improve upon what has been achieved in recent times.

He also urged the government to reduce the duties on telecom equipment coming into the country, even as he described the duties as being too stringent.

In addition, he called on government to encourage indigenous manufacturers of telecom equipment in Nigeria.

He said that by December 31, 2007, ALTON expects the country should have a minimum of assembling plant for telecommunications terminals’ equipment.

NIG President, Mr. Ajayi, in his New Year message enjoined Nigerians to get used to applying ICT in their daily lives. He said ICT has the potential of changing their lives mostly for creating jobs for youths.

He cited the instance of using the Internet profitably, saying it would go a long way in advancing the laundering of Nigeria’s image globally.

According to him, the nation witnessed improved infrastructure deployment, NIG thus called for steady change of the environment for the better and growth of the ICT industry in Nigeria.

ATCON President, Dr. Ekuwem, on his part counseled Nigerians to make sure their votes are met for those who have ICT at the bottom of their political hearts.

Further, he called on the in-coming government after the 2007 election to be ICT compliant, thereby positioning the nation appropriately among ICT nations.

He declared, “Whoever that has no digital message or its component in their programme, should not be voted for.”

ITRealms Online also join the nation’s ICT community in wishing our readers a joyful 2007.

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