" ITREALMS: March 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Nigeria needs IT adviser @ Aso Villa – ITAN

cover of the week:

Professionals in the country under the aegis of the Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN) have said that the nation needs an IT adviser at the Presidency.

This is coming as the Executive Governor, Yobe State, Senator Mamman Ali has confirmed his readiness to relaunch ITAN’s Old Students Computer-In-Schools Initiative (OS-CISI) at this year’s edition of the Enhancing Information Technology Penetration in Nigeria (EITPIN-08) in Lagos, tomorrow.

ITAN made this call through its national president, Dr. Jimson Olufuye who said that the appointment of a special adviser to Mr. President on IT matters would go a long way in aligning the nation’s Information and Communication Technology and core IT industry particularly with the global trends.

“This would allow the President to be better advised on developments in the sector and on what policy and programmes that the government should prosecute,” Dr. Olufuye said in a press statement made available to Champion Infotel.

ITAN also expressed gratitude to some state governors for the foresight in appointing special advisers on IT at that level, describing it as a step in the right direction.

“This is a step in the right direction. We call on the states that do not currently have advisers on IT to do so,” the group said.

ITAN also added voice to the Local Content Bill currently before the National Assembly, suggesting that the scope of the proposed bill should be structured to accommodate IT in addition to the initial eight focal sectors.

Equally, ITAN called on the National Assembly to establish IT Committees in the House and Senate as it had in other sectors like in Communications.

“This we believe would allow the National Assembly to be well prepared to play its oversight role with respect to IT development, policy making and the enactment of relevant laws to regulate the sector,” Olufuye said.

Emphasising that State’s Assemblies should follow suit with their IT Committees established without delay for articulated and well co-ordinated IT development at various levels.

“The establishment of IT Ministries in states at the executive level is a necessity in this regard,” he said.

ITAN further expressed satisfaction over what it called ‘steady progress’ in IT sector, noting that a proactive and conducive policy environment will provide professionals and IT corporate citizens the opportunities, support and incentive to excel in the sector.

Additionally, ITAN urged the National IT Development Agency (NITDA) to urgently conclude its IT policy review initiative before its elements become obsolete on the drawing board.

Meanwhile, Governor Mamman Ali of Yobe State, is set to relaunch ITAN’s OS-CISI at EITPIN-08 holding at UNILAG in Lagos, tomorrow.

Confirming this, Dr. Olufuye said this has become necessary to ensure that schools have access to educational computers, as first step towards the deepening of IT at grassroots.

ITAN, therefore decided to use EITPIN-08 scheduled to hold at the Centre for Information and Technology Systems (CITS), University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Yaba, Lagos on Thursday, next week to resuscitate the initiative.

“We at ITAN have decided to resuscitate our earlier initiative, the Computer In School Initiative now christened Old Students Computer In School Initiative (OS CISI),” he said.

He added that the objective of the initiative is to facilitate deployment of computers to old students primary and secondary schools as its first level of implementation.

The second level, he said, would require the deployment of computers to old students-nominated schools apart from their alma mata.

“The first and second levels deployments can actually run pari-passu,” he asserted, adding that the third level would be deployment of PCs to third party nominated schools across the six geo-political regions of the country.

He explained that the computers involved could be fairly used but not below Pentium III 128 Megabyte Random Access Memory (MB RAM), or brand new systems that could be as may be recommended by the sponsor of the school.

Dr. Olufuye emphasised that based on strategic partnership with Microsoft and local software developers through Cognitive Software, ITAN plans to power each system with Microsoft Windows XP, MS Office 2003 Suite, MS Student Encarta 2005, MS Educational software, and Cognitive educational packages at the first instance.

“An option with Linux has an alternate standard platform which is still on the table,” he said.

He pointed out that a minimum of five computers would be star-networked with a fairly used or brand new laserjet/deskjet printer, even as the equipment would be made Internet ready but not connected to the Internet.

“It is hoped that the Galaxy Backbone Internet Infrastructure will extend to benefiting schools as soon as it is deployed. At least one 5kva stabilizer and 5 650va UPS’ shall also be part of the package,” he said.

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Observing packet spoofing by ISPs (10)

For general information about checksum offloading and why it can cause errors when capturing packets, see http://www.wireshark.org/docs/wsug_html_chunked/ChAdvChecksums.html and http://www.wireshark.org/faq.html#q11.1.

Note that the approach suggested there of disabling TCP checksum verification in Wireshark does not help for our purposes, because we want to compare packets; having TCP checksums that are different across capture files will still appear as a discrepancy between those capture files even if the checksums’ values are never verified.

If your system performs checksum offloading and you are unable to disable it, other options are available.

The pcapdiff programme described below allows you to ignore TCP and UDP checksum values entirely, in case you have reason to believe that checksum offloading is in use.

You can also perform the capture on a separate machine distinct from the computer that is generating the test traffic - as long as it is connected to the same local area network and is able to see the traffic passing by.

In this case, the capture should be performed in promiscuous mode (see footnote 3 above) and, on a network used by multiple people, extra care should be taken to avoid capturing other users’ communications without their knowledge.

Another form of offloading that can cause packet capture accuracy problems is TCP segmentation offloading, also known as large segment offload.

In TCP segmentation offloading, an Ethernet card, rather than operating system software, splits a large TCP packet into multiple TCP packets.

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Zinox to acquire 3 IT firms, injects N3.5bn

Shareholders of Zinox Technologies Group, at the weekend, approved the injection of N3.5 billion to position the company better for competition, just as Zinox advanced strategies to acquire three local Information Technology (IT) firms with core interest in computer manufacturing.

Zinox Technologies is owned by STAN Technologies of Nigeria, Mustek of South Africa manufacturers of South Africa, Kenyan and Zambia No.1 brand MECER Computers and Alhaner Ventures of France, a major telecom facility company with extensive interest in Europe and Africa.

Confirming this, the group’s corporate affairs manager, Mr. Echika Ezuka said that the latest fund injection is to truly position the company as the number one among its competitors if there is any on the continent.

He also said that this decision to inject new fund into Zinox was taken at the board’s last meeting towards the end of 2007, and confirmed last week in accordance with the promise made to stakeholders by the founding fathers of Zinox Technologies during its launch in 2001.

He explained that the additional capital was necessitated by the need to expand its programme, which includes the planned acquisition of majority shares in some three local computer firms.

“That will add value to our present network of branches both locally and internationally in order to serve our customers better, reduce the total cost of ownership of ICT products and fast track us to our desired destination,” he told newsmen during a briefing in Lagos, stressing that Zinox is expanding its offices and support network to 20 before the end of this year.

This, Mr. Ezuka noted would add value in Zinox desire to deploy world class infrastructure that will sustain the firm’s position as the number one brand.

Presently, he said that Zinox is committed to building the largest computer assembling plant on the continent located in Lagos, Nigeria.

“When completed, this shall increase our plant output by over 500 per cent and shall resolve some digital interfaces faster and accurately. We shall soon relocate to a more spacious office with mean high-tech facilities possibly the first of its kind on this side of the Atlantic,” he said.

Adding that Zinox group is investing heavily on human capital that will drive this growth explaining that this must be incubated over a minimum period of nine months.

“We have just hired over 40 new graduates for the first phase and they are all Nigerians,” he said, revealing that this was a prelude to Zinox plan to launch the largest software company on the continent.

“We intend to launch possibly the largest software,” he asserted, clarifying that Zinox is partnering with both African and Asian companies to ensure this happens between the end of next year, 2009 and first quarter of 2010.

As said by Echika, Zinox is set to launch an interest-free computer ownership scheme in the country and Ghana, pointing out that after the successful launch of Zinox Student Computer Ownership Project (ZSCOP) and the current Computer Discount scheme partly financed by a Nigerian philanthropist, few foreign interests have approached Zinox to use its credible platform to really test the reliability of the Nigerian and Ghanaian consumers when they purchase items on credit.

Champion Infotel recalls that recent market study in the West African region by the United States-based International Data Corporation (IDC) rated Zinox Computers as being neck-to-neck with Hewlett Packard (HP).

Zinox, however, reaffirmed its position as the only Microsoft certified Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partner in West Africa and the largest Intel Corporation partner in sub-Saharan Africa.

Also speaking weekend at the end of Zinox board meeting in Lagos, Chairman, Mustek South Africa, Mr. David Khan, restated confidence in the Nigerian market and paid tribute to chairman, Zinox Technologies, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh for taken the franchise beyond all expectation in such a short period with a passion.

“I would say wait for another 12 months to really appreciate his road map. Stan is one gentleman you must trust because his focus is not just on money but rather building a knowledge driven Nigerian economy and we all support him and hope your government will support him to change the face of Nigeria because that is his passion,” Mr. Khan declared.

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Jidaw.com boss tasks NACOSS members

Founder, Jidaw.com with speciality in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) training and networking management, Mr. Jide Awe, has tasked Nigerian graduates, especially those majoring on Computer Sciences to develop real knowledge and passion based on improving their studies in order to face the labour squarely on graduation.

Addressing participants drawn from tertiary institutions and members of the National Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS) was a one-day Collaborative Seminar organised by the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) on the theme: Career Development – Computer and IT related areas, Mr. Awe presented at the event held at the MUSON Centre Onikan-Lagos, an overview of knowledge, technology and career objectives.

He highlighted some areas of interest to include the aspect of IT career tips and choices, formal education programmes, alternative education programmes, prospects and opportunities.

For him, ICTs affect all sectors and the way people now live, work and interact, therefore Nigerians must utilise technology in order to remain at their best, more so in a growing knowledge economy.

He pointed out that there are massive global demand for talented and motivated individuals with the knowledge and skills required to work as professionals in these areas.

Every individual must have insight on what they really want to be in the near future, then identify same so as to have the right education whether formal or non-formal.

He urged youths to be better informed in order to make better decisions on their future choice of career, because according to him, more knowledge means more power.

He counselled participants on the need to keep an open mind, asserting that there is no ‘Yes or No’ answer until one grows up by graduating successfully.

Mr. Awe noted that with the desire, knowledge and right thinking, career success is both straightforward and possible.

He further gave participants a career outline on how to make the best out of it, saying that though it is usually challenging, career especially in IT is exciting and rewarding, but needs requisite knowledge and practical skills.

“Avoid ‘bandwagon’ or ‘feel good’ peers and shun ‘get-rich quick’ scheme,” he cautioned, asserting that career in IT is well-respected profession with excellent prospects.

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NATCOMMS cautions NCC over prefix numbers

THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has been advised against indiscriminate award of multiple prefix numbers to Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators in the country.

Giving this advice is the national president of National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo.

In a press statement to mark the World Consumer Day recently, Chief Ogunbanjo said “NCC should ensure that before the GSM operators are granted further extensions for 0806/0703 (MTN), 0807/0705 (Glo), 0808/0702 (Celtel) among others, which will accommodate additional 20 million SIM cards per operator, they should ensure that 0803, 0802, 0805, which accommodates 10 million subscribers each, have been satisfactorily served with corresponding number base stations and enough E1 connectors that will ensure good quality service.”

The NATCOMS chief frowned at a situation where these extensions have not brought about a corresponding improvement in the quality of services offered by the operators.

According to him, “If NCC does not grant the GSM operating companies the 0806, 0807, 0808 etc extensions, the operators will ensure that they provide good quality service for consumers because they know that if they do not satisfy the existing customers, NCC will not grant them the next level of 0703, 0705, 0702 etc which will accommodate an additional 10 million subscribers.”

He pointed out the fact that NCC is granting GSM operating companies more levels/batches of 10 million SIM cards/subscribers means they (NCC) are also contributing to network congestion of the operators.

Adding that NCC must evolve a subscriber quality protection policy and ensure that they do not grant any GSM operator the next level/batch without good quality services provision to current subscribers on their various networks.

The NATCOMS president, also welcome the entrance of Visafone to the market hoping that they will offer the subscribers with a more pocket-friendly products and tariffs just as the group look forward to Etisalat roll out.

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Data congestion hits Starcomms

The joy of the Third Generation Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator, Starcomms Limited for crossing a million subscribers base, may be short-lived as consumers witnessed unprecedented disconnection of data volume on the network in the past weeks.

Investigations carried out in the Lagos area on Starcomms network showed that the disconnection was over-whelming in the Ikeja, Oshodi-Isolo and some parts of Mushin and Okota areas.

Champion Infotel recalls that Starcomms recently announced it has crossed over a million subscribers and is now aiming at two million, even as it attributed this to the Unified Access Service License granted in year 2006 the telco by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the rise in market share.

It was gathered that the frequency of intermittent disconnection made most subscribers in these areas to crowd the next customer care centres nearest to them.

Most of the Starcomms subscribers at the Customer Centre along Toyin Street, Ikeja showed that the highly affected customers were those on 1x EVDO platform, forcing them to come along with their laptops.

One of the customers who spoke to Champion Infotel on anonymity said he resides along Adoniyi Jones and was most humiliated because he just renewed his subscription of over N15, 000 per month on the 1x EVDO.

As said by our sources, he spend more time these days trying to reconnect than using the Internet that he paid for.

“My brother that was not what I bargained for,” he lamented, wondering if the 1 million subscribers are only on the EVDO platform to warrant the kind of slowness, that is, if eventually connected.

Another customer who gave his name as Mr. Tolu, confirmed, the likelihood of data congestion on Starcomms network, especially now that the rainy season is almost here.

For him, a check on his call log to know how many times he tried logging on after a disconnection indicated that he made an average of 16 connection trials after witnessing 16 disconnections within a space of three hours.

In addition, each time he manages to connect it is only one out of the five indicator bars that is highlighted, meaning the level of service quality available at a given time, thus too sluggish that even a dial-up should have performed better.

He also said that this experience has been persistent both day and night and that made him to come penultimate Thursday to the centre.

The most painful aspect of it, Tolu lamented that he just paid for 24 hours but now he rarely uses three hours in a day and spends more precious time waiting for Internet pages to open.

However, industry watchers believe that CDMA technology also deployed by Starcomms has always provided better capacity for voice and data communications than other commercial mobile systems, unfortunately this one is failing Nigerians.

Efforts to get Starcomms public relations to comment on the report proved abortive.

This, they explained, is based on the fact that every communicator will be allocated the entire spectrum all of the time, thus CDMA utilizes codes to identify connections.

Company sources informed that the hiccup would not be confirmed until after the long public holidays by the management.

Efforts to get the response of the management of Starcomms led by the chief executive, Mr. Maher Qubain, concerning this experience, was still being awaited since last weekend.

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BT partners CTO on COMARCI take off

The British Telecommunications plc (BT), a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group is partnering with the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) on its Commonwealth African Rural Connectivity Initiative (COMARCI) for the take off of the first phase of the project.

CTO official, Lasantha De Alwis, informed that BT has committed to support COMARCI, a project designed to find gaps in connectivity in the 18 African Commonwealth countries, with a view to improving telecommunications access.

Champion Infotel recalls that COMARCI was launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala, Uganda last November.

COMARCI is a flagship project of the Commonwealth Connects programme, which is an inter-agency initiative to optimise the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for development within its domain.

Equally, the project is supported by the Maltese government and 30 other telecommunications administrations of the Commonwealth, just as BT with the recent collaboration provided funding to enable CTO to carry out the first phase of the project.

During the first phase, a repository of information detailing the status of connectivity in the African Commonwealth countries will be built to increase awareness of all stakeholders.

Additionally, De Alwis said that the report would also identify and evaluate successful rural connectivity strategies in these countries, along with six other “peering” countries, namely the United States (US), Canada, Australia, India, Malaysia and Finland, which have all tackled the challenge of rural connectivity with a considerable degree of success.

The CTO official in a press statement made available to Champion Infotel added that in a subsequent phase, 10 of the most successful projects would be replicated in African Commonwealth countries through Public-Private-Peoples Partnerships.

The chief executive of CTO, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, was quoted as welcoming “the first steps of industry engagement in an initiative ultimately aimed at helping bridge the digital divide. BT’s growing global footprint and the naturally strong links it enjoys with the target stakeholders will be further augmented by this gesture of support.

He expressed delight as the United Kingdom (UK’s) largest and one of the world’s oldest telecommunications companies, the support of BT underscores to all potential partners that the COMARCI project is indeed a possible resolution to a real problem for billions of people, not only those in Africa, but also rural people the world over, who could benefit from the knowledge CTO is developing about the African case.

Head, Global Corporate Social Responsibility at BT, Ms Janet Blake, said they believe that everyone should have fair access to the opportunities of the digital age – education, employment and prosperity.

“Through our provision of ICT services worldwide we know how access to enhanced communications technology can literally transform the prospects of individuals, communities and countries. The CTO has a clear vision for improving rural connectivity and leveraging the power of ICT for national development objectives. We’re delighted that BT’s funding will help the region take a step forward on its journey towards sustainable economic growth,” she said.

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DaniSAT relaunches Thuraya satellite phones

LEADING satellite telecommunications entity, Thuraya in conjunction with DaniSAT Communications Limited is offering the Nigerian market 100 per cent telephone and tracking coverage, reports Charles Okoh.

Announcing its re-entry into the Nigerian market, Senior country manager Thuraya, Mr. Abdullahi Ahmed Ali, said the firm values the Nigerian market as it ranks as one of the top five in Africa.

The company, he said, is coming with special offers both in cost of telephone, call rates, network coverage as well as social welfare services.

Mr. Ali also said Thuraya offers satellite based telephony with dynamic mobile suite that combines satellite, Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), Geo Mobile Packet Radio Service (GmPRS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) which guarantees 100 per cent network coverage in rural areas both on land, sea, rivers, lakes with no or less terrestrial network.

He pointed out that Thuraya with a coverage of more than 120 countries across Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia, is the “preferred option in government, military, corporate, oil & gas, construction, business travellers, remote worker as it is orbital and requires no base station nor is it subjected to bad weather conditions.”

Speaking on its special offering for the country, Ali said Thuraya plans to support educational and developmental projects as well as satisfy the communications needs of its subscribers through cheap call rates.

Chairman, DaniSAT, Mr. Peder Sidelmann who accompanied Mr. Ali, said the partnership with Thuraya will ensure 100 per cent coverage in the case of theft, both within and cross border tracking devoid of network congestion, restricted coverage and other limitations of the GSM.

DaniSAT manufactures tracking hardware and developer of the software that allows visualized access to report containing information about position, speed, direction, start and stops of a vehicle or vessel in the event of theft or as a way of monitoring their activities.

This, company sources said also allows “the owner of vessel or car to know if the driver stops somewhere for more than one hour.”

Further, the facility tells if the “vessel or car goes by another route than the one planned, if he speeds for a longer period than it takes just to overtake another vehicle etc. Transporters of sensible cargo may want to know when and where doors are opened, fuel locks are opened, etc. In the unfortunate event of theft, it is of utmost importance to know the position of the vehicle, to be alerted, and to be able to trace live (real time) the stolen vehicle, or even to stop it.”

On the cost of the Thuraya phones, Mr. Ali, said Thuraya offers the most affordable rates in the satellite sector, stating that satellite phone and communication are expensive but that the offer for the country will be cheaper, lighter, smaller telephone than what it was before now.

According to him, “Thuraya is solution to drop calls and rural telephony because a satellite phone is not subjected to weather conditions which allows for uninterrupted telephone access as well as provide GSM-like services.”

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Nokia unveils 2600 Classic

Nokia office in Lagos has unveiled a new model handset that offers a range of useful features and colours aimed at consumers in emerging markets tagged Nokia 2600 Classic.

General Manager Nokia Nigeria, Mr. Fady Khatib, said that recently unveiled Nokia 2600 classic, is a mobile handset that offers useful features, range of colours or exchangeable covers for consumers in emerging markets.

The Nokia 2600 classic, he said, has already begun shipping of this product into the Nigerian market .

A press statement from Nokia Communications Manager in the country, Ms Ngozi Ife Anene quoted Mr. Khatib as saying that the highlight of Nokia 2600 classic borders on allowing consumers to customize their phone with colourful, fully changeable Xpress-on covers and MP3 ring tones.

The cheerful Nokia 2600 classic also features a number of entertainment features, including an FM radio and a VGA camera.

“While cost sensitivity is an important element in creating mobile devices for emerging markets, the overwhelming feedback we receive from consumers in these markets is that they want their mobile device to complement their personality and offer a range of colours and entertainment features,” Mr. Khatib said.

He explained that the Nokia 2600 classic offers a colourful sense of flair and a robust set of features at an exceptionally accessible price.

“As with all Nokia devices, it is backed by a brand that stands for quality and durability,” he assured.

Ms Anene added that Nokia is the world leader in mobility, driving the transformation and growth of the converging Internet and communications industries.

Stressing that Nokia makes a wide range of mobile devices and provides people with experiences in music, navigation, video, television, imaging, games and business mobility through these devices, just as the telco provides equipment, solutions and services for communications networks.

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Windows Server -08 gets NAMA endorsement

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has endorsed the recently launched Microsoft Windows Server 2008, saying it has enhanced its security and improved network access control.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) manager at NAMA, Mr. Ogochukwu Ifeanyi said that since its establishment in 1999, NAMA has witnessed some infrastructural changes by way of trying to improve on its services by ensuring the security of flights in the country.

NAMA, he said, recently completed its electronic flight (e-flight) planning management system pilot, which is a web-based application that facilitates online flight planning.

“We realised quickly that we needed a strong and secure identity and access management solution, as well as strict security and policy enforcement for our entire network,” he said, adding that the remedy was found in the enhanced network security features of Network Access Protection (NAP) in Windows Server 2008.

“What solved this particular problem was our recognition of the fact that the enhanced network security features of NAP in Windows Server 2008 were exactly what we were looking for,” Mr. Ifeanyi said.

The deal facilitated by Microsoft business partner, 1st Intell IT Solutions Limited was a stroke on the rock.

He listed some of the benefits of deploying the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 to include the use of identity and access solutions to manage user identity and associated access privileges properly.

Additionally, he said, that by focusing on security and ease of use, these solutions have been able to assist NAMA in boosting productivity, reduce Information Technology (IT) costs, and eliminate of complexity in the management of identity and access.

“The fact that we have NAP allows us to address the industry-wide problem of ‘unhealthy’ computers accessing and compromising our agency’s network,” he pointed out.

Champion Infotel recollects that Microsoft Corporation, recently launched its latest in shelf solution, the Windows Server 2008 in the city of Lagos, just as it plans to spread the launch across 38 countries within the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.

Speaking to newsmen at the event, Core Infrastructure Server Products and Solutions Lead for MEA, Mr. Goksel Topbas, said that already, the launch has taken off in some African countries including Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Ghana.

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Celtel improves QoS in Kaduna with new switch

In demonstration of its commitment to the improvement of Quality of Service (QoS) on the network, Celtel Nigeria has commissioned another new switch in Kaduna.

The company had, last weekend, commissioned a switch in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, with a promise to bring the total number of switches to 17 nationwide, thus giving the mobile operator a switching capacity of 20 million subscribers.

Chief Executive Officer of Celtel Nigeria, Bayo Ligali said at the Commissioning ceremony in Kaduna that the addition of the switch “clearly represents a timely response to the yearnings of telecommunications consumers for concrete action towards a resolution of the Quality of Service (QoS) challenges in the industry.”

Ligali also announced a plan to commit $1 billion to significantly expand coverage, enhance capacity and improve QoS this year.

Projects, he said, have been designed to achieve these including a 4000 kilometres fibre optic transmission backbone; additional 2000km microwave transmission backbone (supplementary to the existing 3000 km); nationwide generator swap-out and dualization and additional 1000 base stations (to the existing 4100).

These, he said, would enhance the integrity and robustness of the network in the coming months and ultimately result in world class quality of service.

Mr. Ligali also revealed that the company’s Network Monitoring Centre in Abuja would be completed this year to facilitate real-time fault detection and speedy rectification.

“I commit on behalf of my colleagues at Celtel Nigeria that we shall do all that it takes to meet the expectations of our customers by giving them what they want: quality, coverage and excellent customer care,” he declared.

He disclosed that Celtel currently has service in 90 per cent of the covered population of Northern Nigeria, given its importance in the socio-economic and political life of the country, adding that work is ongoing to further expand the coverage and capacity of the network in the region.

Speaking at the occasion, the Chairman of the House Committee on Communications, Hon. Jerry Manwe, who led other members of his committee to the commissioning, praised Celtel for taking concrete steps to address the challenge of QoS.

Manwe expressed the hope that the new switch would result in improved QoS in Kaduna and its environs, just as he challenged Celtel not to rest on its oars in giving Nigerian telecommunications consumers what they want.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stakeholders approve end to JPA

Cover story of the week:

Eighteen months to the initial scheduled date to the end of Joint Partnership Agreement (JPA) between the United States’ Department of Commerce (DoC) and the global Internet coordinating agency, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), over 100 stakeholders have approved the end of JPA.

This development goes to say that there is no plan for the renewal of JPA once it expires on September 2009 as projected.

This insight was drawn from the overwhelming request made by over 100 stakeholders in the global Internet community recently during the midterm review of JPA to ascertain the extent of which ICANN has implemented the 10-point responsibilities as enshrined in the deal, which the body said it has surpassed thereby making JPA outmoded.

Responding to questions after the deadline for the public comment on the issue, the Executive Officer and Vice President, Corporate Affairs at ICANN, Mr. Paul Levins, said specifically that ICANN position was well received by stakeholders and DOC particularly, given the avalanche of submissions clearly requesting conclusion of the JPA or assumed its conclusion when the agreement terminates 2009.

According to him, many submissions made the point that the JPA should conclude, but after a discussion has taken place.

Some of the groups supporting the conclusion of JPA with their submissions included the Internet Governance Project; Internet Alliance; CENTR; The Government of Canada; International Chamber of Commerce; The United States Council for International Business; Internet Society (ISOC) of Australia; The Government of Latvia amongst others.

Mr. Levins also said that ICANN is working closely with the DOC because they are one of our key partners in this process and they have confirmed their support of the ICANN model.

He also informed that in the next 18 months, ICANN plans to engage the Internet community in a discussion about what to do to confirm the ICANN model of multi-stakeholder coordination when JPA term comes to a close in September 2009.

“ICANN is starting the conversation through its President’s Strategy Committee, which will draw on the submissions to the U.S. government and engage the wider community for its ideas and goals,” he said, adding that this will all take place in a public ICANN process expected to meet in April and also consult at the forthcoming Paris meeting in June.

He emphasised that ICANN goal is that transition locks into the accountabilities and responsibilities the agency already has to its stakeholders and discussing new ones.

The vice president further said that from the submissions to the midterm review, it is clear the transition plan needs to ensure key areas including freedom from capture or dominance of ICANN by governments, intergovernmental organizations, or any other group of stakeholders, including private or corporate interests such as those with whom ICANN has contracts.

Other areas, he said, is to ensure that effective and efficient operations of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions by ICANN as well as accountability of its entire model to the Internet community, including affected parties and continued to work on fine-tuning the security and stability of the Internet’s unique identifiers.

As said by him, ICANN submission during the mid term review pointed out the many improvements it has made in the 10 areas of measurement that were in the JPA.

“But as we stated in our submission, none of these goals should ever be considered completed. In each one of them ICANN can and will always do more. Think about it this way -- is there even a point where you can say ... security and stability are done?” he wondered.

This much was reflected in the submissions themselves from stakeholders.

“Not many comments focused on giving ICANN a rating. Instead, they state that now is the time to discuss how to move to final transition - to an Internet naming and addressing system coordinated by a private sector led multi-stakeholder model of participation,” he declared.

Stressing that submissions were received from every continent representing 56 countries, including 10 from Africa.

“African submissions included support from the Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) operators in Kenya, Burundi, Tunisia, Egypt, and Sudan, as well as ISOCs from Mali and Democratic Republic of Congo, and individuals from other nations,” he said.

Mr. Levins added that a total of 171 written submissions were made to the U.S. Government’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s midterm review of the JPA.

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Observing packet spoofing by ISPs (9)

Market Intelligence:

However, the use of checksum offloading makes packet captures inaccurate because it prevents the local operating system from seeing what was actually transmitted. This may cause a discrepancy since one end mistakenly thinks it sent something slightly different from what the other end correctly received; the resulting mismatch of TCP or UDP checksum values could be misinterpreted as tampering by an ISP, since ISPs are not supposed to alter these checksums. Checksum offloading should, if possible, be disabled at both ends before beginning the experiment. If you know that your Ethernet card or network driver does not perform checksum offloading, you do not need to disable it. It may also be possible to get valid results when checksum offloading is enabled; workarounds for this purpose are described in a later section. Here are typical means of disabling checksum offloading on several popular operating systems:

On Linux (as root):

ethtool -K eth0 rx off tx off (choose correct network interface if not eth0)

On FreeBSD (as root):

ifconfig em0 -rcxsum -tcxsum (choose correct network interface if not em0)

On MacOS (as root):

sysctl -w net.link.ether.inet.apple_hwcksum_tx=0

sysctl -w net.link.ether.inet.apple_hwcksum_rx=0 (Note that this may cause some local applications to work incorrectly!)

On Windows

Right-click My Computer, then select Device Manager /Network Adapters/(select device) / Properties /Advanced; then disable checksum offloading, if the option is available.

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Omatek exits SME scheme

LEADING light in local manufacturing of computers and allied Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Omatek Computers Limited has successfully exited the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Scheme, even as it may head to the capital market before the end of this year.

Group Managing Director, Omatek Computers, Mrs. Florence Seriki who disclosed this said that the announcement brings to conclusion the SME synergy between her company and two leading banks in the country, GTBank Plc and Zenith Plc.

“We’re privileged to announce that we have finally exited SMEIS scheme with Zenith and GTBank,” she said.

While appreciating the management of the two banks for supporting Omatek over the years through the scheme, which lasted for about five years, Mrs. Seriki hinted that the next step of action is to continue sourcing for capital to sustain the gains made by the computer firm within the Omatek Group.

“We’re working to raise more capital to sustain the dream and too, the unique quality of products to make it happen and promise to the two banks to keep the flag flying,” Mrs. Seriki said.

She also said that the SME partnership was successful in the sense that through the support of Zenith and GTBank, Omatek Computers was able to achieve some remarkable feat of being Africa’s first Completely Knocked Down (CKD) factory.

She pointed out that after 21 years of setting the pace recognised both by the government and relevant agencies, Omatek has been accorded the pioneer status by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC).

This, Mrs. Seriki said, affords Omatek some incentives including tax relief.

“Our pioneer status was given to Omatek for completely doing all of her brands locally,” she declared, adding that the firm has opened about eight resource centres cum computer laboratories in tertiary institutions nationwide to serve as school labs and service centres to support Omatek brand Personal Computers.

Equally, she said that a new subsidiary has been formed; Omatek Power & Engineering Services Limited, which would manage all the back-up support for all Omatek brands from the resource centres to 600 VA Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) to 100KVA as well as batteries and inverters among others.

Today, she said, Omatek now shops for her raw materials globally from the same market with international brands like HP and Dell among others, but mostly in Asia.

“Its my pleasure to say that Omatek has hit over N1 billion turn over and is no longer SME,” she said.

After the plans to raise fund, she further said that hopefully, Omatek would go the capital market for that purposes.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cisco unveils talent portal for MEA

Cisco Systems unveils Partner Talent Portal to address technology skills short on the African continent and Middle East also known as MEA.

Marketing Manager, Cisco Nigeria, Ms Owen Nwelih said that this is part of Cisco’s continued effort to help channel partners address the global technology skills gap.

She said that the recently unveiled partnership would focus on Middle East and Africa (MEA), through provision of regional channel partners with access to local Cisco Network Academy graduates and Cisco certified talents.

The portal, she said, comes with features on curricula vitae and profiles of local Cisco Network Academy graduates to help facilitate the connection between Cisco channel partners and this proven talent pool.

Nwelih in a press statement made available to Champion Infotel, at the weekend, quoted the Cisco Networking Academy Manager for West Africa, Mr. Julius Ayuk Tabe as saying, that a study commissioned by Cisco last year and conducted by industry analyst firm, IDC, revealed that the demand for networking skills in the UAE alone was set to exceed supply by an average of 27 per cent in 2009.

“This translates into a shortage of more than 19,000 skilled people,” he said.

Mr. Tabe also said that this portal which is already live and accessible to Cisco partners in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia, provides partners with a fast and effective way to find qualified candidates while allowing for a much-needed inflow of talent into the overall industry.

Director of Channels, Middle East and Africa at Cisco, Mr. Guido Romagnoli, was also quoted as noting that in the Middle East and Africa is experiencing tremendous IT growth and people are the heart of this boom, so finding the right talent to support this growth is a critical challenge for both Cisco and its partners.

“To help our partners successfully address today’s skills and talent shortage, we must look beyond the traditional channel strategies that have focused on providing partner training and programmes,” he said.

According to him, with the Partner Talent Portal, we are taking an active role in helping partners tackle business critical issues such as recruiting, retaining and developing talent.

The skills gap, he said, is even more extreme when certain technology areas are singled out.

For example, the shortfall between supply and demand in advanced networking technology skills such as in Internet Protocol (IP) telephony, security and wireless will be 35 per cent in 2009.

This gap is in contrast to findings from Western and Eastern Europe that showed an average advanced networking skills gap of 15.8 per cent by 2008.

IDC also expects the ongoing economic expansion in the region to have a strong impact on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) demand, including networking skills.

Equally, IDC forecasts demand for IT in the Middle East to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 16.9 pre cent between 2005 and 2009.

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Human capacity in IT worries NCS

President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) Professor Charles Uwadia has said that the group is concerned about improved human capacity in the Information Technology (IT) industry in the country.

Prof. Uwadia who spoke at the first in the series of NCS Collaborative Seminar held at the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) centre, Onikan-Lagos, noted that the programme was borne out of the desire to ensure the development of an enduring and a sustainable human capacity base in Information Technology for Nigeria.

This, he said, has become imperative in view of the huge demand for IT professionals both in the public and private sectors of the nation’s economy, and indeed the global economy.

“We’re all witnesses to the increasing pivotal role being played by IT as an enabler and driver of social, economic and political processes. This role is likely to assume a wider dimension with the rapid growth of the Nigerian economy,” he projected.

As said by him, available statistics revealed a yawning gap between IT skills required by the economy and what is produced by the existing institutions both in quantum and quality.

As responsible leaders of the IT profession in the country, it behoves on NCS membership and leadership precisely to ensure that this gap is consciously and systematically bridged.

“Already, a structure for IT education in Nigeria has emerged starting from kindergarten up to the tertiary level,” he disclosed, adding that IT education curricula now exist for the following levels: kindergarten, primary, junior secondary, vocation enterprise institutions (VEI), senior secondary, innovative enterprise institutions (IEI), College of Education, Polytechnic & University.

He explained that at the professional level, curricula also exist for Computer Professional Examinations of CPN at various cadres as well as certification examinations by various bodies.

What is left now is to make this concept known to children of school age, stressing that these opportunities when unveiled to children, students, youths, and other persons who desire to make a profession of IT, now or in future, and also letting them know the challenges ahead.

“It is in the light of this that this programme is being organized to stimulate the interest of our young ones in the Information Technology profession and get them adequately prepared to make a successful career out of it,” Uwadia said.

He also commended the London Metropolitan University for partnering with NCS to pioneer this programme.

“We hope to extend the programme to cover other parts of the country in order to derive more benefits and mileage from it,” Prof. Uwadia assured.

Other facilitators at the seminar have been selected globally to include associate professor, Computer Science from London Metropolitan University, Dr. Farhi Marir, Managing Director, Jidaw, Mr. Jide Awe, as well as the managing director, Rippcon Nigeria Limited, Mr. Alfred Boye.

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EVA4400 reduces storage cost – Okpaka

West Africa office of Hewlett Packard (HP) has launched into the regional market its storagework 4400 Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA4400), just as the Enterprise Server and Storage (ESS) Manager at HP Nigeria, Mr Chuks Okpaka, said that it reduces storage cost for midsized entities.

Speaking at the launch in Lagos over the week, Mr. Okpaka also said EVA4400 is an easy-to-manage virtual storage disk array designed specifically for midsize customers who need to reduce the costs and complexity of implementing a Storage Area Network (SAN).

EVA4400, he noted offers a combination of high-performance and availability features including virtualization capabilities and advanced provisioning software which makes it ideal for midsize businesses that want to cost-effectively manage large amounts of data in a SAN environment without investing in deep storage experience.

Mr. Okpaka equally said that globally HP has sold about 45,000 units of EVA4400 with the Europe, Middle East and African (EMEA) market recording 22,000 out of this figure.

He described EVA4400 as powerfully simple and is now available in the market, adding that HP also has EVA100, which is equally good and costlier than EVA400.

“But EVA4400 is cheaper and this does not make it (EVA100) is inferior to any of our products,” Mr. Okpaka.

Just as EVA4400 supports LUNS-1024 with host ports of four at 4 Gegabytes as well as hold up for Operating System including Microsoft Windows 2003.

Third-party testing has shown that IT managers spend up to 75 per cent less time managing the EVA due to its superior ease of use when compared to competing arrays from EMC and NetApp.

According to him, midsize customers who adopt server virtualization could further reduce their storage costs and simplify consolidation by using the EVA4400.

He explained that recently HP in furtherance of this proof compared EVA4400 and EMC’s competing storage array.

“After working with both the EVA4400 and EMC products, I would definitely choose the EVA,” said Buzz Kaaz, director of IT at Georgia-based Pattillo Construction, the largest private industrial developer in the south-eastern United States.

“The interface was easy enough to use that I could do it myself and save the cost of hiring a consultant. With limited resources, Pattillo is forced to make every technology decision align with our business needs. The EVA aids this as a result of its unique virtualization capabilities, which eliminate management complexities. It allows us to aggregate and automate array tasks so we can manage more storage capacity with fewer people.”

Speaking on the localised survey, Industrial Server and Storage (ISS) Manager for HP Nigeria, Mr. Hussaini Yakubu noted that the respondents made up users and analysts under the firm Enterprise Strategy Group, that 28 per cent said they plan to implement server virtualization in the next six months and 42 per cent plan to deploy within the next year.

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1st Intell makes debut

1st Intell IT Solution Limited has made its debut with the opening of office at Magodo axis of Lagos.

Managing Director, 1st Intell IT Solution Limited, Mr. Niyi Omotoyinbo said that the new entrant situated along CMD in Ikosi/Isheri area of Lagos, has finally opened shop to offer a concentrated Information Technology (IT) solution designed for developing professionals.

He also said that the company is part of the core competencies in the delivery of technical and non-technical training services through its learning solution team. “The team is made up of certified consultant trainers that posses hands-on-experience in the technology they deliver,” he said.

Mr. Omotoyinbo further said his firm is championing trend in providing latest Microsoft offerings including Windows Servers 2008 and Visual B25K 08, even as 1st Intell IT is in partnership with Microsoft.

He added that his firm has within the last three months trained well over 40 delegates across different organizations in readiness for the Windows Server 2008.

These organizations, he said, have remained market leaders in their respective industry including Zenith Bank Plc, FEMB, Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) among others.

Champion Infotel recalls that Microsoft fortnight ago launched its Windows Server 2008 in the country with a target of about 80,000 professionals expected to optimise the new solution within the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, which has about 79 countries.

Microsoft also said that Windows Server 2008 comes with in-built web and virtualisation technologies that afford users to increase their reliability and flexibility of their server infrastructure.

These features include enhancing security in any organisation where it is deployed and save time, reduce costs and provide a platform for a dynamic and optimised data centre.

Additionally, the in-built web application in the Windows Server 2008 has a service-oriented architecture, which gives users the ability to deliver rich web-based experiences efficiently and effectively.

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TSC, Bank PHB join hands to boost Classmate PC penetration

Identification of the Information Technology (IT) as a major tool for the salvation of the nation’s declining educational sector through the private sector participation, was the concept behind the partnership of an Abuja-based Information Technology (IT) company, the Technology Support Centre (TSC) Limited during the announcement of its partnership with Bank PHB and Intel Corporation to push Classmate Pc into the nation’s educational sector.

Spokesman of TSC, Dr. Armstrong Takang said that technology has a major role to play in salvaging education in developing countries, especially in Nigeria, thus the firm’s involvement with Classmate Pc was as a result of Intel’s desire to identify inspiring companies in countries where they operate which was found in TSC in Nigeria.

“This is relevant for TSC to remain vibrant in the ecosystem of the global companies perspective,” he said.

TSC, he said, has developed a programme tagged Technology Enabled Learning (TEL) to strengthen this dream of enthroning technology in education sector, adding that is an initiative that weaves various technology solutions together so as to provide enriched stimulating learning experience.

Some features of TEL, he outlined to include affordable Classmate Pc, connectivity, specialised operating systems, class management system, curriculum and non-curriculum upgrade based on digital content as well as school administration system.

Dr. Takang said, TEL is a solution developed in partnership with Intel, which allows for effective online real-time, interaction between students, teachers, school administration, parents and policy makers.

According to him, TSC value proposition is hinged on what he described as ‘7C framework’ comprising collaboration, communication, cross cultural interaction, creativity and freedom of expression, curiosity and fun, community participation as well as coordination and control.

He explained for instance that with collaboration, TSC e-learning solution encourages students to students alliance, students and teachers relationship and teachers to teachers co-operation.

“Collaboration is the wave of the future and people are learning to use technological platforms to work together to create values, hence TSC e-learning solution powered by the Intel Classmate PC innovation allows for optimum collaboration,” he said.

On cross cultural interaction, Dr. Takang pointed out that the global community is now a boundary-less community, people of different cultures and race could now interact without bias, prejudice or discrimination.

TEL, therefore, provides Nigerian children a unique opportunity to develop a personal profile that makes them citizens of the world.

Just as TSC engenders creativity and a freedom of digital self expression that permits the personal genius in the child and other members of the learning ecosystem to come to the fore.

As said by him, TSC e-learning platform is designed to reach the whole community and spur participation among them, because community is considered to be a part of the larger learning ecosystem.

“We also believe in the Nigerian dream to achieve the vision 2020, education must be seen as a cooperative undertaking to harvest the rich resources of the human mind and create desired future through the wholesome exploitation of knowledge and technology,” he submitted.

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L2L reopens Adobe presence in Nigeria

Most diversified software company, Adobe Systems Incorporated may have found its way back into the country by reopening its regional distributing centre in Nigeria through the recent engagement of Licence-to-Learn (L2L) WECA Limited.

Speaking at the formal launch on Monday in Lagos, the West, East and Central African (WECA) Sales Manager at Licence-to-Learn, Mr. Martin Edenweze affirmed that the occasion heralded the reopening of Adobe presence in the region.

According to him, Licence to Learn was born out of the need for a better and more cost effective method of purchasing Adobe products through a specialist technology distributor.

He recalled that in August 2006 Adobe granted Licence-to-Learn the sole rights to market both the Contractual Licensing Programme (CLP) scheme and the Adobe Student shrink-wrap Product options.

Mr. Edenweze also said that L2L offers the CLP and Transactional Licensing Programme (TLP) to the commercial, government and educational market segments.

The launch, he noted was aimed at repositioning Adobe’s wide range of products in Nigeria as well as reintroducing the authorized reseller channel for the acquisition of original Adobe software.

“Since our inception we have made tremendous progress in setting up the right apparatus to ensure smooth effective, and timely distribution and availability of Adobe Products in this Region,” he said.

Mr. Edenweze further pointed out that L2L is currently setting up a local office in Lagos to ensure direct access to all of Adobe product offerings within the commercial nerve centre.

He said that founded in 1982, Adobe revolutionizes how the world engages with ideas and information.

“For 25 years, the company’s award-winning software and technologies have redefined business, entertainment, and personal communications by setting new standards for producing and delivering content that engages people virtually anywhere at anytime,” he declared.

Adding that from rich images in print, video, and film to dynamic digital content for a variety of media, the impact of Adobe solutions is evident across industries and felt by anyone who creates, views, and interacts with information.

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BA, GT Bank partner InterSwitch on WebPay

IN efforts to maintain its leading position in the aviation industry in the country, the British Airways (BA) and GT Bank Plc, have partnered Interswitch Limited on its WebPay solution, reports CHARLES OKOH.

This offers an option for the nation’s air travelling public to pay online for their tickets using Interswitch cards, especially BA customers.

Briefing newsmen in Lagos recently on the partnership the new commercial manager, BA Nigeria, Mr. Adrian McCloy and official of GT Bank, Ms Cathy Echezo said this offer will guarantee easy booking, easy payment and make flying a pleasurable experience.

Also the partnership would afford BA customers to either pay at any of its 128 branches nationwide or through the Internet using the Interswitch platform to pay online.

According to officials of the partnering companies, once a booking is made on www.ba.com and one opts to pay by Interswitch, the customer will be transferred to a site powered by GT Bank where Interswitch card details are obtained and the payment could be made, just as the customer could equally check-in and print their boarding pass online.

They explained that once a booking is made on www.ba.com and the customer opts to pay via Interswitch, the customer would automatically be redirected to a site powered by GT Bank where Interswitch card details are obtained and the payment is made.

Interswitch prides itself as the most electronic payment solution network with over 20 banks in alliance.

With over 17 million debit and cash cardholders in the country, passengers with debit card could use the Interswitch WebPay regardless of the bank the passenger is with.

Payment by Interswitch is currently only available for journeys originating in Nigeria disallowing tickets for travel within 72 hours.

This arrangement, the airline further said, would make booking easy, payment easy and flying a pleasant experience.

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Starcomms ascribes growth to Unified Licence

Acclaimed leader in the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) telecommunications segment in the country, Starcomms Limited, has attributed its recent massive growth to granting of the Unified Access License (UAL) by industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

This development came as the telco vowed not to stop the aggressive marketing campaign, which commenced in the last two years, even as it aims at two million subscribers before December, according to the chief executive, Mr. Maher Qubain.

This, he also said has facilitated the growth of the telco’s subscriber base by 350 per cent since 206 when the license was issued by the telecom regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Speaking at the media launch to commemorate the successful aim at a million subscribers, he said that Starcomms now inspire to gain two million before the end of this year.

While commending the subscribers on Starcomms nationwide, Mr. Qubain noted that this achievement would not have been made possible without them, just as he pledged an improved quality of service beyond what is currently available.

According to him, Starcomms is investing millions of Naira this year to improve its customer service centres across the country and open new ones to further draw its offerings nearer to the citizenry.

He also said that since 2005 Starcomms has consistently achieved over 50 per cent growth in all key performance indices, which further boosted the rolling out of the 0702-8 range of mobile numbers last year.

He explained that the 0702-8 series operates on the CDMA 2000 platform, and enables subscribers enjoy the roaming mobility that was once the exclusive preserve of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) lines.

Mr. Qubain listed some features of the telco to include its superior voice clarity, flexibility and mobility, enabling subscribers to use their phones in different parts of the country, besides eliminating the challenge of inter-connectivity between GSM and CDMA technologies.

Additionally, he said that the company presently employs 600 Nigerians with a further plan to employ additional 500 before the end of the year.

He gave kudos to Starcomms subscribers for making the growth projection a reality and promised that they will continue to improve on customer relations.

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Etisalat plans roll out in April with 0809

Fifth Global System for Mobile communications licensee, the Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS) operating as Etisalat has advanced plans to roll out next month, April on 0809 prefix.

This follows the endorsement of the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) last Thursday as the operator made its first official call on the network.

Champion Infotel recalls that over a year ago, and precisely on January 2007, the United Arab Emirate firm, Mubadala Development Company in conjunction with EMTS paid $400 million, about N516 million to acquire the Unified Access License, which offers the telco a mobile license and spectrum in the GSM 1800 and 900 Mega Hertz (MHz).

Speaking at the media launch of Etisalat Nigeria at the weekend, its Chief Executive, Mr. Saoud Al Shamsi said that considering the pedigree of the telco in managing over 600 million subscribers services in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), Etisalat is one of the largest companies with base in the Middle East.

According to him, with presence in 15 countries, 10 of this in Africa proves that Etisalat has succeeded in building a network that spans MEA and Asia.

He also said that Etisalat would not be in any haste to roll out in order to ensure a world class quality of service to Nigerian subscribers, adding that the telco presence in the regions like Afghanistan, Sudan and the Central Africa Republic was a demonstration of its strategies and capacity to thrive in difficult and challenging terrains.

“Our brand is distinguished for its innovativeness and reliability,” he asserted, stressing that Etisalat has pioneered operations in various developing markets, emphasising that they are ready for the Nigerian market, especially as the telco intend to deploy considerable experience in serving subscribers in this part of the world.

Earlier while welcoming guest at the occasion, chairman, EMTS, Mr. Hakeem Bello-Osagie, noted that communications remain a powerful lifeline for integrating a fragmented economy, creating a market, raising productivity and breaking down the geographical barriers that keep people in both economic and physical isolation.

Therefore, he expressed no regrets for making up what he missed out in 2001 when the first batch of GSM auction was made in the country through EMTS gotten of Unified Access License.

He further explained that Etisalat has acquired a 40 per cent stake in EMTS to manage the network, EMTS and Mubadala now has 30 per cent apiece.

He was optimistic that Etisalat unique tracks would be replicated in Nigeria with commitment to quality and performance.

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Regulators explore 6 degrees of co-sharing

The eight annual Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR-08), ended in the city of Pattaya, Thailand with the theme on ‘Six Degrees of Sharing: Innovative Infrastructure Sharing and Open Access Strategies to promote affordable access for all focused on stimulating growth in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) investment.

GSR-08 organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) and NTC of Thailand, was presided over by the Chairman, National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) of Thailand, General Choochart Promphrasid, to explore new regulatory measures aimed at encouraging investment and growth in ICT.

Top on the agenda was on liberalizing international gateways so as to open access to submarine cable networks, passive sharing of mobile towers and rights of way for fibre backbones to reach rural users reduced costs through promotion of active and passive network sharing in a competitive environment to provide real consumer choices the goals and role of functional separation regulating international mobile roaming rates.

The six degrees of sharing, according participants at GSR-08 include basic and passive infrastructure sharing; open access to international capacity; business-sharing; active infrastructure sharing; end-user sharing as well as policy and regulatory harmonization.

Speaking at the occasion, Secretary-General, ITU, Dr Hamadoun TourĂ© noted that sharing of views, experiences and best practices among regulators is the only way to address the challenges posed by today’s technological and market developments.

Dr TourĂ© added that it’s only by working together that smart policies and practices emerge.

“It is only by working together that smart policies and practices can be put into place to ensure that the target of connecting the world to ICT within the next seven years can be met,” he said.

He emphasized that connecting the world would lead to sharing the benefits of the Information Society by all.

He pointed out that this year’s GSR explored how regulatory reform could reduce the high investment costs associated with the deployment of new technologies.

“We will examine a range of sharing strategies designed to cut the costs of network rollout, and each one has a role to play in ensuring that countries meet their development goals by 2015,” he said.

For the chairman of the occasion, General Promphrasid, the six degrees of sharing would help build an enabling environment through modern regulation and policy harmonization.

“This gathering of heads of national regulatory authorities from both developing and developed countries will foster the substantive sharing of views and experiences through an open dialogue between regulators,” he said.

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Ericsson, Zain partner GSMA on live saving mobile @ Lake Victoria

World leader in telecommunications equipment vendoring, Ericsson is combining forces with owners of Celtel International, Zain alongside the Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA) to offer live saving mobile coverage of Lake Victoria.

This would see to some 200,000 fisherman working on Lake Victoria having the opportunity to use mobile phones to call for help if they get into trouble on the world’s second largest inland lake, as commitment to corporate responsibility of the trio.

The initiative being funded by the GSMA Development Fund, would ensure that mobile networks extension across the Lake Victoria region, thereby fuelling economic and social development of the lakeside communities and potentially reduce the number of fishing-related deaths each year.

Throwing light on this development, Head, Corporate and Marketing Communications, Ericsson West Africa, Mr. Olabode Sowunmi Jnr. said that Zain and Ericsson are upgrading Celtel’s existing infrastructure as well as building an additional 21 radio sites to provide mobile coverage up to 20 kilometres into the lake.

This, he said, would take about six months and ensure mobile coverage to over 90 per cent of the fishing zones, where up to 5,000 people die each year from accidents and piracy.

He also said that the project would use Ericsson’s extended range software package to more than double the effective range of radio base stations and Ericsson’s Mobile Position System, a location-based service that enables emergency authorities to triangulate the mobile signal of fishermen in distress. Ericsson’s green site solutions, Mr. Sowunmi added include solar and hybrid power solutions, which will be utilized to provide electric power to the base stations in the more remote island areas.

Equally, GSMA and Zain are working with the governments in the region and not-for-profit groups to establish a rescue coordination service to provide assistance to lake users, which in the longer term will be run by the East African Commission (EAC’s) planned Regional Maritime Communications Centre (RMCC).

This initiative is helping to fulfill the objectives of the EAC Lake Victoria communications strategy, which was adopted in 2007.

Till date, Ericsson, Zain and GSMA have spent the last six months investigating how to provide better communications for the 30 million people in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda who live in the immediate vicinity of the lake.

The move to extend the region’s mobile network reflects the companies’ commitment to corporate responsibility and to improving lives through communication, and is supported by a solid business case based on increased subscriber numbers and a higher volume of data traffic, thereby ensuring the sustainability of the project.

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ITAN reintroduces computer in school

Information Technology Industry Association of Nigeria (ITAN) has advanced strategies to relaunch its Old Students Computer-In-Schools Initiative (OS-CISI) at this year’s edition of the Enhancing Information Technology Penetration in Nigeria (EITPIN-08).

National President, ITAN, Dr. Jimson Olufuye said at the weekend that this has become imperative to ensure that schools have access to educational computers, as first step towards the deepening of IT at grassroots levels.

ITAN, therefore decided to use EITPIN-08 scheduled to hold at the Centre for Information and Technology Systems (CITS), University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Yaba, Lagos on Thursday, next week to resuscitate the initiative.

“We at ITAN have decided to resuscitate our earlier initiative, the Computer In School Initiative now christened Old Students Computer In School Initiative (OS CISI),” he said.

He added the objective of the initiative to facilitate deployment of computers to old students primary and secondary schools as its first level of implementation.

The second level, he said, would require the deployment of computers to old students-nominated schools apart from their alma mata.

“The first and second levels deployments could actually run pari-passu,” he asserted, adding that the third level would be deployment of PCs to third party nominated schools across the six geo-political regions of the country.

He explained that the computers involved could be fairly used but not below Pentium III 128 Megabyte Random Access Memory (MB RAM), or brand new systems that could be as may be recommended by the sponsor of the school.

Dr. Olufuye emphasised that based on strategic partnership with Microsoft and local software developers through Cognitive Software, ITAN plans to power each system with Microsoft Windows XP, MS Office 2003 Suite, MS Student Encarta 2005, MS Educational software, and Cognitive educational packages at the first instance. “An option with Linux has an alternate standard platform which is still on the table,” he said.

He pointed out that a minimum of five computers would be star-networked with a fairly used or brand new laserjet/deskjet printer, even as the equipment would be made Internet ready but not connected to the Internet.

“It is hoped that the Galaxy Backbone Internet Infrastructure will extend to benefiting schools as soon as it is deployed. At least one 5kva stabilizer and 5 650va UPS’ shall also be part of the package,” he said.

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MGE Galaxy essential for data centres

Product Manager, Critical Power and Cooling Services business unit of Schneider Electric, Mr. Didier Guglielminetti, has said that quality of the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is essential for continuity of service of critical installations such as data centres, industrial processes and telecommunications.

This, he explained was the reason why Schneider Electric recommends the use of its MGE Galaxy 5000 and Galaxy 6000 UPSes.

“Four basic factors must be taken into account when selecting a UPS: the quality of the power, flexibility, ease of use and total cost of ownership,” he said

Just as he added that for mission-critical applications, the stakes are such that it is absolutely essential to offer operations managers systems that provide the most effective combination of these factors, regardless of the complexity of the environments and conditions.

“This is the reasoning behind the features incorporated into the Galaxy 5000 and 6000,” he maintained.

According to him, the highest quality power is required to ensure that Information Technology (IT) and industrial equipment functions at maximum efficiency.

The Galaxy 5000, he said, is an on-line double-conversion architecture with a variable switching frequency Six-Pack IGBT inverter technology.

SixPack IGBTs are also used at the UPS input stage to provide a clean input current waveform to ensure that they can be built into any electrical installation without interference.

“It is essential that the power is uninterrupted during any upgrade. The Galaxy 5000 is highly modular and can be upgraded to meet the changing requirements of sites and critical applications,” he said.

The basic rating, he said, could be increased by six-fold and even be used in conjunction with static transfer switches (STS) to provide redundant electrical power supplies.

Backup times from five minutes to eight hours are available as standard to meet various requirements, he explained, stressing that from installation to operation, Galaxy 5000 provides the best return on investment. It is compact (built-in batteries of up to 80 kVA), easy and quick to connect (all operations are carried out from the front).

The clean input current waveform provided by the SixPack technology means that the mains supply does not need to be oversized, which can result in considerable savings.

Finally, he said, its operating efficiency could be up to 94 per cent, which could save from around R17 000 to R84 000 (€1,777 to €8,800) of electricity per year.

Mistakes operating one or more UPSes protecting mission-critical services can have extremely serious consequences.

Ease of learning and decision-making aids are aspects that are important for ensuring the availability of the power to equipment protected by UPS systems.

“The Galaxy 6000 features the very high availability power, flexibility and low cost of ownership of the Galaxy 5000 with a novel interface for exceptionally easy operation,” he said, emphasising that its icon-based graphical user interface with large tactile colour display provides access to all the information essential for managing the high availability power supply: metering, alarms, statistics and event log.

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MultiLinks makes two millionaires

Over 12 winners were at the weekend presented their cheques in the Telkom-Multilinks consumer promotion, which held last December nationwide, including two millionaires.

Those who emerged millionaires in the promo include a student of Federal Polytechnic Idah, Mr. Silver Ndu and Luv Business Centre based in Lagos.

Welcoming the winners to the presentation, Executive Director, Corporate Affairs at MultiLinks, Mr. Tayo Ekundayo, said that the occasion is to affirm the telco’s commitment to a better service delivery to its subscribers and also to recognise them as the reason MultiLinks has remain in business over the years.

Speaking to Champion Infotel after receiving his N1 million cheque, Mr. Ndu said that his first step afterwards is to put the money in a bank and replan his life so as to optimise the promo prize from MultiLinks.

In addition, he said, that although he has just concluded his Ordinary National Diploma in Business Administration and Management at Federal Poly Idah.

For the excited owner of Luv Business Centre, he has three MultiLinks lines and would as a matter of fact buy some more for the family use and especially for the wife.

Champion Infotel recalls that Telkom South Africa recently acquired the leading Private Telephone Operator (PTO), MultiLinks Telecommunications Limited, variously described as a marriage of two giants across the continent.

This is coming as the telco began injection of new fund into investment to the tune of $1 billion in five years on Multi-Links expansion.

The South Africa’s leading fixed-line operator, Telkom, it would be recalled recently acquired 75 per cent of Multi-Links for US$280 million.

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NEC to launch Internet TV product

One of the global leading providers of Internet, broadband network and enterprise business solutions, NEC Corporation, is warming up to launch full-scale Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) business with high-profile Next Generation Network (NGN) carrier applications, reports Charles Okoh.

This will provide end-to-end IPTV solutions and video delivery systems to communication carriers, and will expand this business to the international market. According to a statement made available to Champion Infotel, NEC will draw on its NGN know-how and experience with broadcasting technology to deliver highly competitive solutions which is expected to generate about N50 million in sale by 2010.

The company will deliver end-to-end IPTV solutions using NEC products from network architecture to deliver servers and household terminals, in a “full line full layer” approach which would make it possible to guarantee the quality of service (QoS) as well as Quality of Experience (QoE) promising advanced security demanded by carriers and users like.

Also, NEC plans to release into the market, its “NC7500-VD” video delivery server (VoD) server in April as the core system for new IPTV solutions.

This, server official said, would deliver continuous video on-demand services with carrier-grade reliability and in-built contents protection functions that will safeguard intellectual property rights and satisfy even the most robust security needs.

The press statement endorsed by executive vice president, NEC, Dr. Botaro Hirosaki, said, “IPTV is a video delivery service that use the IP network. With the addition of NGN we can provide a variety of services, including high-grade video-on-demand (VoD) and value-added information services.”

He added that NEC aims to expand services and meet carrier demands for smooth migration from current services and advanced service architecture incorporation NGN capabilities by providing next generation IPTV solutions couple with extensive technical achievements in broadcasting with our core competence in the area of IT network integration.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Use of IPv4 declines – Report

Cover of the week:
Despite the intentions of some stakeholders to accommodate the Internet Protocol version six (IPv6), reports disclosed that version four (IPv4) is on the decline curve in terms of usage.

Internet Protocol version 4 is the current common version of the Internet Protocol, the “IP” portion of Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol ((TCP/IP), which assumes the position of dominant protocol suite in the worldwide Internet. TCP is Layer 4, otherwise known as the transport layer (TCP/IP) in IPv4, which allows for approximately four billion IP numbers.

Also, IPv4 is the most widely used version of IP nowadays, which uses a system of unique 32-bit identifiers to address data to computers (or hosts) on the Internet, according to Wikipedia.com, just as experts said it has 128 Class A addresses but only about 64 have been used.

This may bring a lull in the acceptance and enthronement of IPv6 full time either by relevant authorities managing IP addresses or the global coordinating agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Before now the fear has been that IPv4 would soon run out of IP addresses hence the move to introduce IPv6 to contain more Internet users growing desire.

This came as ICANN weekend announced the global policy proposal for the remaining IPv4 address space.

According to the 2007 IPv4 address use report, made available to Champion Infotel, the number of available IPv4 addresses went down from 1300.65 million to 1122.85 million, thus leaving a difference of 177.8 million addresses.

The report released by protocol routing entity, the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), indicated that the number of usable addresses is 3706.65 million as at end of December 2007, therefore showing that on January 1, 2007 global utilization recorded 64.9 per cent and by the last quarter of the same year it was at 69.7 per cent.

These figures, the report said were derived from the records published on the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers of the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), namely AfriNIC, which offers address space exclusively for Africa, APNIC for Asia-Pacific region, ARIN for North America, LACNIC for Latin America and the Caribbean and RIPE NCC for Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East.

As stated by the report, there are two other ways to interpret the same data; first by way of simply adding up all the address space with a date indicating that it was given out in year 2007, which is 186.93 million addresses.

While the second in this order is to compensate four ARIN’s record keeping peculiarities which tends to bring the total for 2007 to no less than 196.77 million, presumably the highest number ever.

However, the second highest was 1991 with 189 million addresses, whereas the 196.77 million figure is approximated at 19 per cent higher than the 2005 and 2006 numbers and were largely the same.

For instance, the report noted that in 2007 one of the old Class A blocks –, was returned to the Internet Assigned Name Authority (IANA), which is the first time in many years.

This returned blocks represent 16.78 million addresses in size and is now part of the global pool of free address space, thereby accounting for the difference between the 177.8 and 196.77 numbers.

BGP report outlined the status of 221 usable blocks of 16.78 million addresses with AfriNIC delegated two blocks amounting to 33.55 million addresses, APNIC 26 blocks with 436.21 million addresses, ARIN 27 blocks with 452.98 addresses and LACNIC got six with 100.66.

Also the report stated that RIPE NCC has 26 with 436.21 million addresses, while various got 49 with 822.08, end-user 42 with 704.64 and available blocks were fixed at 43 with 721.42.

Additionally, the 43 unused blocks of 721.42 million addresses currently in custody of IANA was reported to be free space in the form of addresses delegated from IANA to the regional Internet registries, but not yet further delegated by the RIR in question to an Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or end-users.

In a related development, ICANN announced the final call for comments on the proposed global policy for allocation of IPv6 address space.

Champion Infotel recalls that on July 13, 2006, the Secretary of the Address Supporting Organization Address Council forwarded to ICANN a proposed global policy for allocation of IPv6 address space.

This proposed global policy had been submitted to the ASO AC by the Executive Council of the Number Resource Organization on June 6, 2006 and adopted by the ASO AC on 12 July 2006.

The development of global Internet Number Resource Policies is the subject of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ASO/NRO and ICANN.

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