" ITREALMS: August 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Validity: NATCOMS may drag Starcomms to court

The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) may have concluded plans to drag a Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Starcomms Plc to the law court if by August 31 the operator did not remove its mobility validity on the network to zero.

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) specializing in the protection and upholding the rights of telecommunications consumers in the country and spearheaded the successful switch-off campaign on Friday, September 19, 2003, clamouring for reduction in the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) tariffs and better services.

ITRealms Online recalled that at the 48th edition of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)-organized monthly Telecom Consumer Parliament, which held Friday, August 1, 2008 at the Excellence Hotel, Ogba, Lagos State, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, noted that his office was inundated with complaints about Starcomms and other mobile operators who cut off or deny their subscribers access to services on their networks, claiming that there was no or sufficient airtime validity on a given line.

Airtime validity according to some of the operators’ definition entails that subscribers must have a given period upon which to use up their airtime loaded on their mobiles and after such a time the airtime loaded, if not used up, automatically become forfeited which in most cases last between one week and two weeks.

Also, if a subscriber does not have valid airtime for a period such users in some networks like Starcomms cannot receive calls or even Short Messaging Service (SMS).

Speaking to ITRealms Online in an exclusive chat last weekend, NATCOMS National President, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, said his group would drag Starcomms precisely and allied to court first for cheating on Nigerian subscribers and secondly and most importantly for disregarding NCC directive to stop with such routine.

According to him, prior to the upcoming anniversary of the Telecom Consumers Parliament for this year billed for this Friday, August 29 at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, NATCOMS intends having a special session with NCC to streamline other issues on board with top on the agenda being the compliance or otherwise of Starcomms and cohorts on the removal of mobile validity.

“We would hold meeting with NCC before the session and we intend to ask them directly as regulator if Starcomms has complied, otherwise we’re going to the court on September 1,” Ogunbanjo declared.
He reiterated that it is not a mere threat, wondering why some of the telecom operators would choose to disobey the regulator like NCC with international repute.

“I can’t understand why Starcomms has been arrogant to NCC directives among others,” he decried, adding that it is disheartening but NATCOMS is not relenting in its resolve to take court action against them after the aforementioned meeting.

He insisted that last February, NCC had given a similar directive to Starcomms during the monthly telecom consumer parliament and it was surprising to learnt that months later, the operator is yet to comply.

Noteworthy is that NCC boss gave the latest directive following a complaint brought before the parliament by a lady Starcomms subscriber, and said that such excuses do not hold waters any longer, especially when the person in question has airtime on his or her mobile lines.

He warned Starcomms sternly alongside any other operator enjoying such undue privilege whether on the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) or the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operators, to stop forthwith.

As said by him, NCC may be forced to wield the ultimate stick of sanction on mobile operators who refused to adhere to this no validity on mobile directive.

“Don’t restrict them, because it is their money and they should be able to use it as at when they like,” he warned.

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Privacy Notice: Essentials of Mozilla Firefox version 3 (3)

Market Intelligence:

5. WEBSITE INFORMATION SERVICES. Mozilla and its contributors, licensors and partners work to provide the most accurate and up-to-date phishing and malware information. However, they cannot guarantee that this information is comprehensive and error-free: some risky sites may not be identified, and some safe sites may be identified in error.
6. DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY. The product is provided “as is” with all faults. To the extent permitted by law, Mozilla and Mozilla’s distributors, and licensors hereby disclaim all warranties, whether express or implied, including without limitation warranties that the product is free of defects, merchantable, fit for a particular purpose and non-infringing. You bear the entire risk as to selecting the product for your purposes and as to the quality and performance of the product. This limitation will apply notwithstanding the failure of essential purpose of any remedy. Some jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion or limitation of implied warranties, so this disclaimer may not apply to you.

7. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. Except as required by law, Mozilla and its distributors, directors, licensors, contributors and agents (collectively, the “Mozilla Group”) will not be liable for any indirect, special, incidental, consequential or exemplary damages arising out of or in any way relating to this agreement or the use of or inability to use the product, including without limitation damages for loss of goodwill, work stoppage, lost profits, loss of data, and computer failure or malfunction, even if advised of the possibility of such damages and regardless of the theory (contract, tort or otherwise) upon which such claim is based.
The Mozilla Group’s collective liability under this agreement will not exceed the greater of $500 (five hundred dollars) and the fees paid by you under the license (if any). Some jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion or limitation of incidental, consequential or special damages, so this exclusion and limitation may not apply to you.

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ATCON signs deal with 3 event managers for ComBIT-08

Umbrella body of telecom firms in the country, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has signed up three event management entities for its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) expo, ComBIT 2008.

Disclosing this, the Publicity Secretary and chairman, Planning Committee at ATCON, Mr. David Roberts said that the signing of the three seasoned events managers, namely Faces & Profiles Limited, Exxcon Limited and TextServe Limited as consultants is to ensure that ComBIT meets up with the international standard.

“They are already working with us to ensure that the quality of the event is significantly raised to meet international standards. They have brought in their wealth of experiences from other well organised events to make ComBIT 2008 a world class expo,” he said.

According to him, ATCON is also partnering effectively with the press to ensure that adequate publicity is given to the event.

“As a step forward, we have invited all stations of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) across the country, the Federal Radio Corporation (FRCN), all radio and television stations owned by the 36 states of the federation, all private radio and television stations as well as selected international and African regional magazines and newspapers,” he said, adding that they will participate and give adequate coverage to the event.

“We have equally mapped out a robust advertising campaign to boost publicity for the event. We are in deed fully prepared to take the event to the highest level possible,” he revealed.

ATCON is a non-profit and non-governmental trade association for all ICT operating companies in Nigeria, that was inaugurated on December 10, 1993 and has over the years shown very strong commitment to the rapid expand of Nigeria’s telecommunications networks as well as the accelerated development of the entire ICT sector in Nigeria.

ComBIT expo, he explained is one of ATCON’s contributions towards consistent stimulation of the growth of ICT in Nigeria and in deed Africa.

ITRealms Online recalls that a fortnight ago, ATCON announced the dates for ComBIT 2008, scheduled to hold at the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Centre, Onikan-Lagos.

President, ATCON, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem also informed that the ComBIT Expo billed for October 20 through 22, is a product of ATCON’s strategic re-branding of NICOMM Exhibitions & Conferences organised annually by the group in collaboration with the Ministry of Information & Communications, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as well as other industry stakeholders since 1995.

“The plan of ATCON and its collaborators is to grow ComBIT expo into a flagship and globally recognized ICT event in Nigeria and Africa with a view to further stimulating the development of our ICT industry through more local and foreign direct investment into the sector,” he said.

Ekuwem equally said that ComBIT expo has been designed to provide a veritable platform for cultivating commercial partnerships between foreign principals and local representatives, dealers, distributors and resellers of ICT and allied products and services in the country.

“It will further offer ample opportunities for investors to explore and exploit the abundant market opportunities in the very vibrant ICT sector in Nigeria and beyond,” he said.

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PNN, Speakeeze partner on 300 mobile outlets

Leading total telecommunication solutions provider, Private Networks Nigeria Limited (PNN), is partnering Speakeeze in setting up 300 stores before the end of next year.

The agreement announced in Lagos would see the roll out of Speakeezee stores all over nation before December 2009.

The Speakeezee stores are designed to be a one-stop-shop for the acquisition, repair and maintenance of quality mobile phones and accessories with a customer centric focus aimed at achieving 100 per cent customer satisfaction.

ITRealms Online recalls that PNN had late last year, after the injection of expansion capital by Aureos West Africa, announced the intention to deploy mobile phone retail outlets in all Nigerian cities and towns by December, 2009.

Announcing this deal, the Managing Director and chief executive officer, PNN, Alhaji AbdulRahman Abiola-Odunowo, said that the agreement is expected to fulfill the missing component within the Nigerian telecoms environment.

The synergy, he said, is billed to fill the void that exists in the delivery of excellent technical support and unbiased service in the retail sector of the telecom industry.

“This agreement with Speakeezee is the beginning of great things to come. The Speakeezee brand is synonymous with our service and value aspirations. As you all know, Speakeezee mobile stores have been around since 1992 and have remained consistent in offering intelligent cutting edge services. We are taking mobile retail business to a level of excellence,” he said.

Also speaking, the chief executive officer, Speakeezee, Otunba Dotun Olakunri, explained that this agreement is a result of close collaboration between his firm and PNN over the last 10 years.

“The decision to develop Speakeezee retail brand with PNN is based on the fact that the management of PNN has shown an understanding of what the Speakeezee brand stands for and what the expectation of Speakeezee clients are. We believe that the synergy with PNN will further enable Speakeezee deliver our excellent value to the Nigerian public who have consistently yearned for quality and independent service offerings.”

He further said that this is an exciting period for Speakeezee, adding, “Mobile Technology is evolving at a pace that needs a dynamic and forward looking outfit like Speakeezee, partnering with PNN, to adapt to the ever increasing change in the Telecoms industry and bring intelligent cutting edge services to the door step of Nigerians.”

He disclosed that the roll out plan would commence on Monday, September 1, 2008 which entails the opening of Speakeezee outlets in various parts of the country in phases.

He outlined that the first two phases would be the deployment of 10 Speakeezee outlets in Lagos area, namely Ikeja, Surulere, Victoria Island, Jos, Ado-Ekiti, Kano, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Asaba and Benin.

While the second phase involves opening of 25 Speakeezee outlets to be launched in Lagos, viz Awolowo Road, Lagos Island, Apapa, Yaba, Lekki, Isolo; Kaduna, Abuja, Warri, Onitsha, Eket, Ibadan, Owerri, Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode, Akure, Calabar, Bauchi, Nnewi, Sagamu, Sango-Ota, Aba, Zaria, Ilorin and Maiduguri.

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Telecomms can’t thrive without courier – Emeje

Assistant Postmaster General (APG) and Head, Courier Regulatory Department (CRD), Dr. Simon Emeje has declared that the telecommunications sector cannot thrive without the courier services sub-sector, reports CHARLES OKOH.

Dr. Emeje said this during at the annual AFRITECC 2008 Congress in Lagos, last week, noted that the survival of courier is not only vital to the economy but one of the highest revenue spinners for many developed countries of the world.

“All over the world, the post stands out and Nigeria should not be an exception,” he declared, adding that in spite of the boom in the communications sub-sector, it could not thrive without the courier sub-sector.

He cited for instance that if a telecom company places order for an equipment or laptop, it could only be delivered via courier services.

Dwelling on the “Courier Services in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects,” Emeje said some of the factors militating against postal services is lack of recognition of the importance or the role and position it occupies world-wide in the economy of scale and particularly in development of Nigeria’s telecom industry.

He also wondering why a service like the post which is as old as the world should be allowed to die in a developing country like Nigeria, underscoring the activities of unlicensed courier companies, pilfering, dumping and loss of items, as well as knowledge bankruptcy on courier enterprise, as some of the other factors confronting the sub-sector.

The Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) through CRD, he pointed out, has commenced clampdown on some unlicensed courier companies adding that so far about 70 of such companies have closed owing to sharp practices.

Noting that NIPOST venture into the courier services with Express Mail Services (EMS/Speed Post) in 1986, but that it is not proper because according to him “NIPOST cannot be a player and at the same time a referee.”

“In 2004, the courier operators agitated that they would want an independent body to regulate them. In 2005, a ministerial committee produced a draft postal bill on postal reform which would be endorsed and sent to the National Assembly to set up an independent postal regulatory body like Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC),” he stated.

While calling for a faster process to make this dream come true, Dr. Emeje also informed that there is a dire need for most postal services in the country.

“The city of London alone has 1,000 courier companies but the nation as a whole has 234 courier companies,” he lamented.

Dr. Emeje said by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) treaty, there should be one post office to 6,000 people as against the situation in the country where it is one post office to about 28,000 people.

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Visafone emerges best brand @ telecom awards

The fast emerging leader in Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Visafone, has emerged the Best Telecom Brand in the country at the 2008 edition of the Nigeria Telecom Awards, which held in Lagos, according to the poll conducted by Phillips Consulting.

Visafone, which unveiled its brand and services barely six months ago and precisely on February 22, 2008 has in its short span of operations broken records with a number of industry firsts right from commencement when it made history as the first telecoms company in Nigeria to roll out commercial operations in 12 states and over 40 cities from day one.

The CDMA operator has since spread its coverage areas to 17 states and over 150 cities and is set to garner an unprecedented 1 million subscribers in less than six months of operations.

A press statement from the Visafone and signed by the Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Toni Kan, noted that the company, which has a banker turned telecom firm founder, Mr. Jim Ovia also unveiled a new and innovative product that extends its Value Added Services (VAS) to its subscribers.

Tagged as the “RC Data Pay,” the product allows data users (internet subscribers) on the Visafone network to recharge or pay for internet subscriptions through their handsets, using recharge cards. The service could be used from any Visafone phone handset on any tariff plan, and the data subscription is automatically updated within seconds at the dial of a short code if the subscriber has sufficient balance.

“One more proof of Visafone’s commitment to excellent quality of service and fulfillment of its brand promise of spreading the joy of communication,” he said.

According to him, Visafone’s three-pronged business model which is predicated on superior quality of service, wide coverage and excellent voice clarity, thus endearing the telco to the masses.

The company’s promise to enable Nigerians experience the joy of communication has been exemplified in its introduction to the market of some of the classiest, most stylish and lowest priced phones that subscribers have seen in the history of the nation’s telecom sector.

He added that Visafone’s vibrant red colour and aesthetically pleasing shops and Visafone zones have also raised the standard in telecom outlet branding across the nation.

“We’re delighted by our emergence as the Best Telecom Brand of the year 2008 less than six months into the launch of the brand. This award is recognition and validation as well as a call to better service delivery. The success we have achieved is a collective one and we want to thank the Nigerian people, the press and all the stakeholders who have ensured a smooth launch and growth of the Visafone brand,” he asserted.

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... As ZOOMmobile clinches CDMA prize

Recently rebranded Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), ZOOMmobile, has added two industry awards to its basket as it was named the CDMA Company of the Year, and the Most Improved Telecommunications Company of the Year 2008, by the board of trustees of the Nigerian Telecoms Awards.

A press statement from the ZOOMmobile by the Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Oge Udeagha said, the awards were jointly presented to the company by the former Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Allison Madueke (Rtd.) and former Communications Minister, Gen. Tanko Ayuba (Rtd.), at a ceremony held at the Expo Centre of the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, barely two weeks after the re-branding of the company from Reltelwireless to ZOOMmobile.

The organizers of the awards, lauded ZOOMmobile for leading the CDMA sector of the telecommunications industry on such indices as subscriber base, coverage areas, affordability and product innovation.

Speaking after receiving the awards, the Executive Vice-Chairman of ZOOMmobile, Mr. Ken Aigbinode, dedicated the awards to the indomitable spirit of the management and staff of the company, and Nigerians, for their immense belief in and support for, the company, over the 10 years since its incorporation.

“We are extremely delighted and at the same time, humbled by these awards. They will serve as constant reminders to us of the bond we have with our numerous subscribers, to always keep ahead of competition by providing cutting-edge services and continue to pursue our mission of making telecommunications services available and affordable to every individual or group, irrespective of socio-economic status,” he said, noting that the greatest reward for doing work is the opportunity to do more.

“We thank Nigerians for the opportunity to serve,” he said.

Recalling that ZOOMmobile which recently re-branded and introduced the 0707 numbering plan, has won almost all the significant industry awards in its category, including the “ICT Company of the Year 2008”, from ThisDay Newspaper, “CDMA Company of the Year 2007”, from the Nigerian Telecoms Awards, among others.

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NiRA accredits 35 registrars for .ng

Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) has accredited 35 registrars to give boost access to potential registrants on the nation’s country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD), .ng.

President, NiRA, Mr. Ndukwe Kalu made this disclosure in his leadership business plan for the association as part of their achievement in the last one year of assuming office.

Speaking at the second Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the association, Kalu said they were excited to note that the recent Registrar Accreditation exercise was on very sound track.

“The executive board has approved the recommendations of the Registrar Accreditation Committee with the selection of 35 provisional Registrars,” he said.

These registrars, he said, were drawn from within and outside the country.

“We have registrars from Kano, Abuja, Lagos Enugu among others. Also we have Nigerians in Diaspora who have also been selected,” he declared, adding that a Senegalese firm is among the provisional registrars, which also happens to be the only Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) accredited registrar on the continent.

“We are excited by the number, location and caliber of these registrars, that includes internet pioneers like Linkserve,” he said, stressing that these registrars would finish the outstanding Registrar requirements to be able to commence operations come September 1, 2008.

These set of pioneer Registrars, Kalu pointed out, represent a landmark achievement for NIRA and core strength.

He also said that as a virgin domain base that NiRA and in fact .ng would have the strength to tap from other countries’ experiences both bad and good in order to grow steadily.

“For example our late start has enabled us to learn from the premium domain concept that has enabled us offer the cheapest domain registration rates in the world and of any new ccTLD. This has been possible because we have carved out two premium classes for domain,” he said.

Emphasizing that the two classes for domain is more like the airline industry first class and business class.

“Our ‘First class’ domains are those soon to be auctioned on the second level. These domains are very limited and may not exceed 20 in number. It would offer desired companies or institutions the opportunity to register on the second level for personal use or at the third level. For example mtn.ng. zain.ng, glo.ng among others,” he explained.

In additional, he said that NiRA has the equivalent of the ‘business class’ premium domains which are selected generic or special names on any of the commercial second level domains like .com.ng, net.ng, org.ng, mobi.ng, name.ng.

“This represents over 10,000 such names which would also be available on auction at regular intervals. Some of the names include bank.com.ng, bank.org.ng, market.com.ng etc.

Reiterating that this core strength would immediately place the .ng ccTLd in the global spotlight.

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Cyber games enters qualifying series

The World Cyber Games (WCG) Nigeria has entered the qualifying series, according to its President, Mr. Ogunlola Olusegun, last weekend in Lagos, reports UGO NKWOCHA.

Speaking at a press briefing which held at the Chams City Center in Ikeja GRA, he said WCG is one of the biggest international computing games globally.

He also said that the world cyber games is to empower youth to use their self skills to work and is held annually.

Mr. Ogunlola added that the last year’s edition had South Africa as the only African country, but Nigeria would be the second at this year’s version, stressing that the event is to promote such ideas in Nigeria to sensitize the people.

Equally, he said the preliminaries would be held in cybercafes, gaming centers and recreational clubs around the country.

“The gamers would have to beat the computers at their chosen games in order to qualify for the next round, where they would face the best gamers in their region before moving to the national finals in Lagos to compete for a total price of $5 million (about N588.6m),” Ogunlola said.

He noted that the WCG is working to identify and recruit the best gamers in the country and sponsor them as national representatives to the World Cyber Games grand finale in Cologne, Germany this November.

The qualifying series, he said, kicked off on Monday, August 25, 2008 at various locations nationwide and is expected to end by September 16, 2008.

Mr. Ogunlola expressed appreciation to all the sponsors from private, local and international community.

A representative of the government and Director, Software Research, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr. Emeka Ezekwesili, said that his agency is interested in any avenue that would draw early interest of Nigerian youths to the use of technology positively.

“We prefer to catch them young instead of youth getting involved in what is now known as Yahoo, Yahoo also called online 419ers,” he said.

The Account Manager, Intel Corporation Nigeria, Mr. Robinson Babatunde and Head, Corporate Affairs, Chams Plc, Mr. Idowu Logile, were also at the briefing.

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JDPC launches IT training

AS part of efforts to empower the youths with the Information Technology (IT) skills, the Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) in the Catholic diocese of Lagos, has put together a computer and IT training programme, reports STELLA EDMUND.

According to the Coordinator of the programme, Mrs. Rose-Mary Onyeukwu, the skills acquisition is a refresher course for students aimed at developing them for the challenges ahead.

Mrs. Onyeukwu also said that about 360 students have been registered already and are currently undergoing the training from different public and private schools across the state.

Also speaking, the assistant parish priest, St Agnes Catholic, Maryland, Rev. Fr. Augustine Nnemeka, noted that several children were idle during the recent strike and this leads to all sort of evil acts, adding that the programme was aimed at keeping them busy and also to teach them computer as means of communication and information dissemination locally and globally.

The training, he said, was sponsored by Microsoft Corporation Nigeria, in collaboration with the parish council for its youths, adding that the idea behind it is to build the youths with the required skills and keep them away from danger.

He called on parents to pay attention to the needs of their children to make them responsible citizens of the nation.

A participant, Miss Joan Ofondu told ITRealms Online that the computer training has been so rich and educative and has afforded her the opportunity of being computer literate.

JDPC is the official response of the Catholic Church to the socio-economic challenges facing various levels of the society.

In line with the church guidelines setting it up, JDPC is to help and support deprived people of all races, religion and gender as well as an outreach programme of the church, coordinated under the Church and Society department of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN).

With presence in almost all the Catholic dioceses and archdioceses nationwide, each JDPC discharges its responsibility according to its local situation.

Most JDPC at their levels target groups for these programmes which basically need not be Catholics but members of all other churches and religions working in collaboration with human rights cum access to justice groups, good governance enhancement programme, micro-credit and small business development, peace building and conflict management in addition to environmental, HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support.

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Niger State teams up with Galaxy Plc on NICEP

In line with the commitment of the Niger State government, the executive governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu has endorsed a teaming up of the state with the federal government infrastructure backbone company, the Galaxy Backbone (GBB) Plc through the National Information, Communication and Education Programme (NICEP) projects.

NICEP is an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy intervention by the Federal Government targeted at the realization of its e-governance and Millennium Development Goals’ objectives.

Equally NICEP project is designed to deploy about 5000 Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) nodes all around the country including Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA), the 36 state capitals and 774 local government areas.

The NICEP project promises to provide the benefits of ICT to all areas of the country, particularly hard-to-reach areas and underserved communities, connected directly to the NICEP national operations centre in Abuja.

Corporate Communications, Manager at Galaxy Backbone Plc, Mr. Franklyn Ginger-Eke, said in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online that the partnership would centre on the vision to make Niger State one of the three best economies in Nigeria, especially in the areas of education, science and technology as well as agriculture by 2020.

Commenting, Gov. Aliyu expressed willingness to partner with Galaxy Backbone Plc towards the achievement of the socio-economic development of the state.

Speaking through the State Commissioner for Science & Technology, Alhaji Muhammad Yusuf Gunu, during a courtesy visit to Galaxy Plc in Abuja, said that the Niger State Government would form a credible partnership with GBB on the NICEP based on its belief that the adoption of ICTs and its benefits is the only way the state could remain relevant and a key player in support of the national efforts of making Nigeria one of the 20 top economies in the world by 2020.

According to him, the partnership is part of the overall vision of becoming an e-compliant society by leveraging opportunities represented in the 5,000 VSAT-nodes NICEP Project currently being rolled out nationwide by Galaxy.

Welcoming the guest, Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone Plc, Mr. Gerald Ilukwe, said that the visit is a confirmation that the Dr. Aliyu’s administration is a government that matches words with deeds.

He recalled that Aliyu as the Special Guest of Honour at the 1st Public Sector ICT Infrastructure Forum organized by Galaxy Backbone Plc recently was represented by the Permanent Secretary, State Ministry of Science & Technology and had pledged that the resolutions of the forum would form a major platform for the implementation of the ICT policy initiatives of the state government.

Ilukwe also said that Galaxy Backbone’s business objectives are focused in four main areas namely Technology 4 Governance which deals with Government to Government interactions at the federal or state levels; Technology 4 Revenue which concerns using ICTs for revenue generation, payment of taxes, budget performance monitoring, reliable statistics for planning and so on; Technology 4 Education which involves delivering qualitative education especially at Tertiary and Secondary levels and Technology 4 Development which focuses on community development.

He pledged his company’s readiness to work with the government of Niger State for the attainment of the socio-economic development of the state and its people.

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Etisalat engages 150 care centre staff

The nation’s fifth Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operator Etisalat Nigeria, has intensified training for its customer-facing staff numbering 150 in preparation for the commercial roll-out of the network.

“Over 150 Nigerians in customer care services have been trained and deployed to the state-of-the-art Call Centre facility in Lagos,” a press statement endorsed by the Head, Communications at Etisalat Nigeria, Mrs. Nwugo Nwoke.

According to her, among these latest staff are graduates of the prestigious Etisalat Academy in the United Arab Emirate (UAE) with expertise in customer care and quality management.

Vice President Marketing, Mr. Wael Ammar was quoted as saying that the telco keeps its customers at heart.

“Etisalat’s business has not only been the hallmark of our global quality but has been key to our latest ranking as the largest telecommunications company in both the Middle East and Africa. We, therefore, place a high premium on training our staff as well as on the quality of services we offer our customers,” Ammar said.

In addition Etisalat official said it has confirmed several readiness indicators including the completion of core network implementation as well as full integration of its switching systems cum intelligent network online charging system (OCS).

The milestones reached by Etisalat also include interconnectivity to other major GSM and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operators.

Confirming these developments, the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Oladamoye Oyesiku said that the operator as the fastest growing telco in the world, “is committed to providing world-class telecommunications services to prospective customers in fulfillment of our mandate in Nigeria and in line with our operating standards in over 15 other countries.”

He added that already Etisalat value added services network platform has been installed and integrated with basic services which are up and running.

Etisalat has also concluded roaming agreements to a host of countries, while its first-class call and data centres in Lagos are fully operational.

Etisalat, which has been ranked as the largest telecommunications company in both the Middle East and Africa , ahead of all other regional and international operators in the two regions, serves an aggregate of 63 million customers across 16 countries.

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Ndukwe bags telecom Icon award

Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, has bagged the Icon award of the Nigerian Telecom Revolution at the Nigerian Telecoms Awards 2008.

Organizers of the award which held in Lagos, last weekend, said it is a recognition which encapsulates the contributions of Dr. Ndukwe, in putting Nigeria in the world map of telecom delivery through his outstanding management of the telecom regulations in the country that brought about the revolution that Nigeria has enjoyed in the area of telecom services.

Dr. Ndukwe was also noted to have contributed to the growth of the Nigerian economy through a very transparent regulatory process that brought huge investments to the country and created direct and indirect jobs and businesses in a manner that has never been witnessed in any sector in Nigeria’s history.

ITRealms Online recalled that Dr. Ndukwe was earlier in the year in South Africa, voted the Best Regulatory Personality of the year in Africa, a testimony of how his efforts in Nigeria has been recognized abroad, with some African countries visiting Nigeria on study tours about the best regulatory practices and processes.

The presentation of Icon of the Nigerian Telecom Award to the NCC boss, coincided with the commemoration of the 7th year anniversary of the launch of Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) services in the country since August 2001, with Nigeria topping the African continent with the highest number of active lines at about 54 million connected lines by end of June, 2008.

The organizers noted also that Nigeria is now occupying a place among the top 10 countries in the world in telecommunications growth, which has been breathtaking development achieved within seven years.

Nigeria had about 400,000 fixed lines and 20,000 mobile lines as at year 2000 when the telecom and electronic engineer was appointed for the first time in office.

Dr. Ndukwe’s second tenure at the NCC is expected to end in 2010, and he was quoted recently as saying that in the remaining months of his tenure he tends to strengthen the regulatory body and ensure robust coverage of the country with telecom infrastructure and services.

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Nokia launches E66, E71 in Lagos

Leader in mobility and driver of converging Internet and communications, Nokia launched two Eseries mobile devices namely the slim, stylish Nokia E71 and Nokia E66 otherwise known as ‘multimedia computers’.

These two also offer easy access to range of electronic mail (email) solutions, including Microsoft Exchange.

These phones are regarded as the new interface of the Nokia Eseries business smart phones which makes it easy for both individual and professionals to manage their schedules and contacts as it does to making calls.

Marketing Manager, Nokia Nigeria, Ms. Beatrice Olumhense said at the launch which took place weekend in Ikeja-Lagos that these phones were produced as commitment of the mobile company to solve the need of the email enthusiasts through mobile device.

She added that the device has inbuilt Yahoo!, Google mail (Gmail) and Hotmail facilities as well as Microsoft Exchange, 3 Giga bytes of memory card.

She noted that the sleek Nokia E71 comes with full QWERTY keyboard and the stylish, slide-to-open Nokia E66 easily mobilizes a broad range of personal or professional messaging needs, including Microsoft Exchange.

Both devices which hit the global market since July this year, she were designed for people who lead a mobile lifestyle and want quick and easy access to their personal and work email.

“We have responded to consumer feedback by making calendar and contacts available at the touch of a button,” she said.

Equally, the Senior Vice President, Devices Nokia, Søren Petersen, was quoted in an accompanying press statement by the Communications Manager, Nokia Nigeria, Ms Ngozi Anene, that people want well-crafted devices that are as beautiful to use as they are to behold.

“Stainless steel was chosen as the core material for these devices, giving them additional strength and a touch of class. Furthermore, the Nokia E71 and Nokia E66 offer all the latest multimedia features that people desire,” Soren said.

Explaining further, the product manager for Nokia Nigeria, Mr. Jude Omozegie, said, that the Nokia E71 and Nokia E66 come fully equipped for easy-to-install and easy-to-use professional and personal email.

According to him, people who use Microsoft Exchange at work could access their email using the mail for exchange mobile email client, which comes pre-loaded with the Nokia E71 and Nokia E66.

“With these Nokia Eseries devices, people can get reliable real-time access to their email, calendar, contacts and tasks, as well as download attachments like Word, Excel, Powerpoint or Product Document File (PDF) files directly to their devices,” he said.

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Samsung launches flat penal TV series

Samsung Electronics has launched a new brand of Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) Television (TV) into the Nigerian market.

Speaking at the launch which took place on Monday in Lagos , the President, Samsung Electronics Nigeria, Mr. Woosang Cho, said the product has been the toast of the elites and all who matter in the world of consumer electronics everywhere it has been launched around the world, adding that he expect the same enthusiasm for the product in Nigeria.

“As you will get to know, the products we are about unveiling is a unique one that blends top performance with art to the extent that you can hardly tell whether it is a TV or a piece of art,” he said.

Stressing that after a global launch in selected countries of the world, that Samsung decided to have a formal launched of its 2008 Flat Panel TV in Nigeria .

The event witnessed by leading Samsung distributors, wholesalers and retailers in the country excited the President, Samsung Electronics Nigeria Ltd, Mr. Woosang Cho, who declared, “Today marks a unique turning point in the life of the Samsung brand of televisions here in Nigeria owing to the fact of the august unveiling and launch of our new brand of LCD TV series into the Nigerian market.”

Cho also said that the product has been applauded from other parts of the world where it had hitherto been launched.

He anticipated that the 2008 flat panel TV would receive the same acclaim it had enjoyed worldwide, just as he said, the unveiled Samsung Plasma TV is simply unique as it blends top performance with art; making it difficult to differentiate the television from a piece of art.

Also speaking at the launch, the General Manager, Far East Mercantile Company Limited, major distributors of Samsung in the country, Mr. Praveen Meduri said the new product is a blend of good looks, performance and adaptability stating that Samsung is the leader in the industry.

According to him, the fact that the product was a Samsung brand was a first sign of endorsement; given that Samsung’s leadership in television manufacturing is unrivalled. Mr. Meduri explained that the latest products from Samsung embodies beauty, performance and adaptability, pointing out that creative ingenuity of the aesthetic department of Samsung Electronics culminated in the beautiful design of the 2008 flat panel TVs, which he often described as a work of art.

“The beauty of this television is not skin deep. Other televisions have their colours painted on them. This is not a painted television. The colours on this television come from inside. They call it dual-injection technology. This has never been used on televisions before. This is the first time, this is a beautiful television,” he said.

He further stated that no television currently possesses “a better and sharper colour quality than the 2008 Samsung Flat panel TV.”

Noting that the contrast ratio of the Samsung flat panel TV is currently at 50,000: 1 “And the best that Sony can throw at us is 18,000:1,” adding that it has Bluetooth technology infused and the provision of a Universal Serial Bus (USB) port as “killer applications” among others.

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Glo empowers call centre operators with ProfitMax Extra

The Second National Operator (SNO), Globacom has empowered some commercial phone operators otherwise known as call centre operators with the introduction fo the ProfitMax Extra.

This, the operator said, would enable them to make bigger profits with the introduction of what it called, “the best ever business centre package in the country.”

Group Chief Operating Officer at Globacom, Mr. Mr Mohamed Jameel, said in a press statement made available to Champion Infotel that the scheme is available as ProfitMax Extra.

“The beauty of this offering from Glo is its lowest market call rates which enables commercial phone operators across the country reap bountifully from their investments in the business,” he said, adding that the underlining philosophy behind the package is to give a vast majority of young Nigerians who have the drive the opportunity to make some good returns on investment in the commercial phone business.

Jameel also said that Globacom has always been traditionally interested in empowering Nigerians and with this scheme, the telco would radically change the business of many commercial phone operators who take advantage of it.

“ProfitMax Extra will boost the revenue capacity of the commercial telephone operators. Since a lot of Nigerians patronize commercial call centres, the commercial telephone operators will through ProftMax Extra be able to earn more from their investments”, Mr Jameel said.

He further explained that ProfitMax Extra is a robust prepaid product deal for the operators with guarantee of bigger returns. It comes with the lowest daily rental fee of N60 for products in its category across the telecoms market in the country. Apart from this, it has the lowest on-network and off-network call rates in the market of 26 kobo per second, ensuring that the commercial phone operators who opt for it will truly rule the market.

Jameel added that ProfitMax Extra has also been designed to help address growing unemployment among Nigerian youths by encouraging them to set up their own commercial telephone operations with little investment.

The package is available in all Globacom retail and customer care shops and also from select dealers nationwide.

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APC introduces web-based data centre

Global leader in integrated critical power and cooling services, APC by Schneider Electric, has simplified data centre decision making process by introducing web-based applications.

The vice president of APC’s Data Center Science Center, Carl Cottuli, announced the debut of APC TradeOff Tools, is a new web-based applications with easy-to-use interfaces designed for use in the early stages of data centre concept and design development.

According to Cottuli, by enabling data centre professionals to experiment with various scenarios regarding virtualization, efficiency, power sizing, capital costs, and other key design issues, APC TradeOff Tools break down major data centre planning decisions into a series of smaller, more manageable decisions. Use of these tools helps validate, through modeling, the overall design of a data centre.

“Customers need to make many key decisions during any data centre project, and they do not always have the necessary information to guide them,” Cottuli said, adding that many of their concerns are not addressed by configuration tools because they occur early in the concept selection process.

“With the introduction of APC’s TradeOff Tools, when a roadblock arises, the data centre decision maker can easily find a tool to deal with their specific issue, get a quick answer, and continue on in the concept selection process,” the VP said.

The seven tools, Cottuli said, are currently available on the http://tools.apc.com section of the APC Web site, carbon calculator, energy efficiency calculator, capital cost calculator, virtualization energy cost calculator, power sizing calculator, InRow containment selector, and AC vs. DC calculator.

Cottuli stressed that on the carbon calculator, illustrates how changes to a data centre’s location, efficiency, and power load could impact carbon dioxide emissions and the electric bill.

“This provides management with a general indication of how “green” their data centre is today and how “green” it could be,” Carl said.

The energy efficiency calculator, is profiled as a data centre and calculates the resulting efficiency and electrical cost based on data centre characteristics.

Users can then understand the impact each key data centre decision has on the data centre’s efficiency.

For the capital cost calculator, the identified key data centre physical infrastructure parameters and calculates capital costs based on those parameters.

“This allows data centre users to judge how changes to data centre location, IT load, and cooling and power infrastructure can impact overall capital costs,” Cottuli added.

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MTN’s balancing act for Okada riders

The Volkswagen bus stop end of the Lagos-Badagary Expressway was as chaotic as always one Saturday morning sometime last year. The gridlock began from Okokomaiko and stretched as far as the International Trade Fair Complex. Dozens of impatient motorists had broken the one-way traffic rule and had complicated the crisis, ensuring that there was no movement of motor vehicles on either side of the very busy expressway.

There was ‘absolutely nothing wrong’ with this for the people who live along this route as such scenes are common occurrence. What was not common was the sight of a bride in her full white gown pacing up and down with her best lady in tow beside a gaily decorated Toyota Avensis marked To The Alter.

It was obvious that the convoy, which was coming from Olojo Drive that connects the expressway to the famous Alaba International Market was church-bound. Word soon spread among bystanders and a crowd of other commuters and motorists that the convoy was going to a Catholic church in Festac for a wedding service that was to have commenced some 30 minutes earlier.

The convoy had spent considerable amount of time to proceed to the Volkswagen end of Olojo Drive but had come to a complete standstill, with no hope of being able to get out of the situation anytime soon.

The unthinkable happened. With loud protest from her best lady and some more elderly members of her entourage as the bride flagged down an okada, gathered up her gown and jumped on the passenger seat. Left with no choice, the best lady grabbed the next available one and chased after the anxious bride.

Some other members of her convoy, one after the other, chased after okada riders to ferry them to the church where, it was understood, the very strict officiating minister had already commenced the services as there were four other couples involved.

Despite the traffic jam, with an okada, the bride was guaranteed to get to the church service latest in 30 minutes. Therein lays the foremost value of an okada in the modern Nigerian society. With the appalling state of the roads, gross indiscipline on the part of motorists and a steady rise in number of vehicles using the roads, a very important role has been carved out for commercial motorcycles in the Nigerian transportation system.

This is so crucial that people who would rather not touch an okada with a long pole now on the increasing occasions have to hop on it to meet urgent appointments.

Okada riders would go against the normal flow of traffic, run on the kerb, the road median, the frontages of people’s residences and other such improvised thoroughfares to get their passengers to their destinations and sometimes, to the mortuary too.

Statistics released by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) recently indicated that 60,261 persons were killed through motorcycle accidents (okada) between 1989 and 2007. A total of 40,706 persons were maimed within the same period in a total of 73,766 incidents.

These figures, which the sector Commander, FRSC, Lagos described as Mr. Kayode Olagunju unacceptable, are indeed grossly understated. Only a few of the road accidents in Nigeria get reported to the police and yet only a few of the ones reported at the local stations get forwarded to a central information pool where the statistics are drawn.

The okada probably constitutes more peril to Nigerians today than any other means of transportation because of its sheer pervasiveness. And interestingly not only those who utilise it for transportation are at risk. Okadas have been known to run into commuters for buses or otherwise run down pedestrians.

Managing the menace of Okada in Nigeria has therefore become a major issue to the general public and their appointed leaders. Many of these stakeholders have come up with a lot of suggestions as to how to strip this now accepted means of transportation of its inherent evil for the benefit of the society.

A general consensus is that many of the motorcycle operators lack the necessary safety awareness to run commercial motorcycle operations on the roads. Invariably, this informed the decision of Nigeria’s leading telecommunications company, MTN, to build an extensive safety awareness programme for okada riders nationwide into its recently concluded month-long staff volunteerism campaign, dubbed 21 Days of Y’ello Care 2008.

The staff volunteerism scheme initiated last year by the MTN Group involved staff in its 21 operations across the world taking part in community-based activities.
In Nigeria, MTN employees this year were divided into two major groups, Business Transformers and Share ‘n’ Care, which organised dozens of activities aimed at improving the society. The safety awareness drill for okada riders and commercial drivers were championed by the Business Transformers group, whose activities centred around assisting small and medium scale enterprises acquire sound business practices that can take them to the top.

Working with the umbrella body of commercial vehicle operators known as the National Union of Road transport Workers (NURTW), the group organised informal workshops for commercial motorcyclists and drivers in some of the busiest terminuses in Lagos, Ibadan, Port Harcourt and many other parts of the country.

The workshops took the participants through a number of issues like accident prevention and control, first aid treatment, life saving tips and techniques, defensive driving, basic road signs and anger management among others.

In addition, the participants also benefited from free health screening for common ailments that could adversely affect safe operation of motorcycles, principal among which are eye problems. They also received counseling on how to use commercial motorcycling operation as a stepping stone to greater means of livelihood, especially when they become older and incapable of carrying on with the business.

“Our major concern is to ensure that accidents of okada and of course motor vehicles are reduced to the barest minimum” said Coordinator, Business Transformers Project, Okundola Bamgboye. “So we have the burning desire to inculcate the necessary safety awareness in the operators. And secondly, in the event that accidents occur, how do people deal with them? How a victim of accident is handled at the scene can make the difference between life and death or between total recovery and permanent disability. That informed our decision to include a few first aid treatments and serious emergency tips in the programme,” he said.

A number of beneficiaries also lauded MTN for the initiative including Mr. Sikiru Adesokan, an Ibadan-based participant.

“I am personally happy with this programme because I have learnt a lot. Even though I would have been able to make some money during the time I spent on this seminar, I still consider myself lucky to have benefited from the training because, the truth is that you cannot put a cost to what we have learnt, “ Adesokan, who participated at the Boundry/Ajegunle version of the workshop.

Other activities embarked upon by MTN staff during this programme included malaria awareness campaign, HIV/AIDS seminars, visits to orphanages and homes for the elderly, environment sanitation exercises and free eye-screening and blood pressure measurement exercises.

“It has been rewarding. Members of staff were so committed to this programme that they rush down from the mosques on Fridays and even come with their families on Sundays to take active part in the programmes”, said Idris Bello Eneye, MTN Regional Safety, Health and Environment Coordinator, Abuja Regional Office, while the MTN Safety, Health and Environment Supervisor, Ramatou Otini Isah, described the experience as highly enriching.

•Mimi Deke contributed this from XLR8, a public relations consultancy firm based in Lagos.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Microsoft vs Yahoo! The politics of search engine

The battle for Microsoft to buy Yahoo!’s search engine seems over, REMMY NWEKE reports that there is politics beneath.

Dead on arrival:

The much awaited Annual General Meeting (AGM) of acclaimed most trafficked Internet portal, Yahoo! Incorporated, has come and gone without any headway for the software giant, Microsoft Corporation to presently realize its dream of buying into Yahoo! search engine either as in whole or in part.

It all begun like rumour that Microsoft and Yahoo! would merge as at first quarter of 2007 and precisely in February, through a joint venture based on overture by Yahoo! according to Microsoft. Yahoo! promptly dismissed this claim in a press statement, saying it would consider Microsoft’s proposal, but described it as ‘unsolicited.’

But as the months go by the picture became clearer that Microsoft was actually making some advances to the owners of Yahoo! over its interest to buy over the search engine. This intensified to last for over six months yet un-ended, thereby dominating discussions among industry players ever since. Thus, affirming that there is an atom of truth in every of rumour.

By February this year, the chief executive officer at Microsoft, Mr. Steve Ballmer had raised the stake to $44.6 billion (about N5,226 trillion) to be divided into cash and shares for the offer.

Based on projections, Microsoft expects online advertising to double in the next three years, from about $40 billion in 2007 to $80 billion by 2010, therefore a merger or partial buy on Yahoo would ensure realization of these economies of scale.

True Prediction:
In December 2006, proprietors of ShoeMoney.com, predicted 10 reasons why Microsoft would seek to acquire Yahoo in 2007, to include that it is unheard of for the software giant to seat back while Google makes a display of how to take a search engine from level two to be reckon with as top 20 American companies.

Equally of note was futile shots at getting market share in the online advertising game by Microsoft which experts said would not be viable contest without acquiring Yahoo! and its number of Internet users.

In addition, analysts at ShoeMoney.com noted that the search algorithm owned by Microsoft – algo; is by far the single biggest challenge facing the company based on the fact that when there are no users using the search engine, as it were, tons of online adverts remain undisplayed on its platform. Stressing that if Microsoft were to acquire Yahoo!’s search algorithm it would be a giant step in getting users back into its fold.

Experts also said that Microsoft tried to broker an initial deal via a firm formally known as Overture for showing ads on msn.com search as most advertisers confirmed that Microsoft’s Adcenter has little volume from its search engine. Just as the Yahoo Publisher Network (YPN) is rated as the best contextual advertising network with great quality control team and real phone number (s) that real people answer.

Optimistic Microsoft:
The beat was up on Microsoft interest in Yahoo after the initial attempts failed for almost four months to make Yahoo to bow to its demands; from $20 billion (about N2,354 trillion) to $44.4 billion (about N5,226 trillion).

However, about a fortnight to the August 1 Yahoo! AGM, Microsoft in its desire began moves to re-open negotiations with the new board expected to emerge afterwards, with focused interest for partial instead of wholesome purchase of the search engine, according Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Microsoft, Mr. Chris Liddell, at the Financial Analyst Meeting 2008 held prior to the August AGM, just as inspired billionaire cum activist and Yahoo! shareholder, Mr. Carl Icahn was expected to uphold his threat to sack the current board of directors with Mr. Jerry Yang as the chief executive, over their refusal to yield to Microsoft deal worth $47.5 billion (about N5.59 trillion) at the last count.

“We took the view, and we still take the view, that Yahoo! is essentially a declining asset. … What changed was time, because ‘Time passed and value eroded’ and We don’t have a situation now where the initial offer that we made makes any sense any more from economics,” Liddell said.

Icahn as gladiator:
Investor Icahn known for raiding corporate entities withdrew opposition few days to the August 1 meeting and after promising Microsoft a successful bid. This action, observers said was blackmail on the incumbent board and management.

As indicated by his blog, IcahnReport.com, threat suspension was on realization that many shareholders do not really share his views, in spite of the campaigns. The fear was that Microsoft would eventually enslave most of the Internet or web users, especially advocates of the open source regime and to some extent diminish the high speed internet provider.

Part of Icahn’s blog revealed thus, “The proxy fight is over and it will not do shareholders or Yahoo any good to have the annual meeting turn into a media event for no purpose. Last week, (before AGM) I realized it was impossible to gain enough support from the large institutions to win a majority of the Yahoo directorships ....

“A few days ago, I met with both Jerry Yang and Roy Bostock and I believe both genuinely wish that we will be able to work together to enhance value. While we still disagree on many points, I have great hope ‘this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Out come of the AGM:
The AGM ended with all incumbent nine-man board of directors led by Mr. Bostock, returned ‘unopposed’ except for Robert A. Kotick who soon after resigned but was replaced by Mr. Carl Icahn. Others are Ronald W. Burkle, Eric Hippeau, Vyomesh Joshi, Arthur H. Kern, Mary Agnes Wilderotter, Gary L. Wilson and Jerry Yang.

For Yang, the company is at a unique point in history with the eyes of the world focused on Yahoo! and tracking its performance. “The value inherent in Yahoo!’s unique collection of assets is truly extraordinary, and the progress we’ve made on our initiatives this year signals our ability to capitalize on the underlying potential of these assets.”

Though the board was expanded by additional three seats, reportedly created to please Icahn, there names would be announced on August 15, 2008.
African views and beyond:

Although some Internet enthusiasts like Ms. Nnenna Nwakanma, a software expert, believes that bulk of the Microsoft revenue does not come from developing countries, so Africa does not have much to loose if the bid was successful or not. But opposing school of thought noted that Africa is obviously important, stressing that Microsoft depends on investment in developing countries to make good revenue through the government and people by selling its applications, which have more or less left these countries with the notion that without Microsoft solution they may be going no where with computing.

It was further argued that the popularity of Microsoft Windows on most Personal Computers (PCs) originally ever before Open Source titles is another point that could not be dismissed easily.

Equally others opted that Microsoft target was Facebook, which is also making waves now and as they vowed to delete their account if Microsoft succeeds. “Microsoft can’t do anything anymore; or at least anything that doesn’t involve company buyouts?” For them, integrating the search team at Yahoo! with Facebook would avail any formidable army to take on Google.

Another Internet enthusiast, Dan Bull lamented: “Microsoft is really hell-bent on taking over the internet,” which summarizes the people’s fear in developing countries of the world and open source community.

Now that the politics of search engine is over, who knows the next step of acquisition to be made by Microsoft?

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WIN, SABI my priority – Ndukwe

Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe at the weekend in Lagos, declared that his priority in the next three years remaining in his tenure would be to ensure spread of telecom infrastructure through the Wire Nigeria (WIN) project and broadband via the State Accelerated Broadband Initiative (SABI).

He also promises to leave a legacy of very professional and strong regulatory body, and a robust telecoms network crisscrossing the entire nation before he quits the scene in 2010 when his tenure expires.

Fielding questions from newsmen at an interactive session, weekend in Lagos, to mark the 7th anniversary of launch of the acclaimed Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) services in the country, Ndukwe said he believes that once the right processes are put in place, there will be no reason why things would not continue to move in the right direction, and that he would entrench those ideals within the one and half years left of his tenure.

Enumerating some of his priorities, Ndukwe said include massive expansion of telecom transmission infrastructure across the country through the Wire Nigeria (WIN) project, spreading broadband and Internet services to urban and semi urban location through the State Accelerated Broadband Initiative (SABI), and achieving a profound improvement in quality of services across the networks.

“Between now and 2010 this country will have even a more robust telecom industry. I will like to continue to develop the manpower of the Commission and set up the right processes.

“My major aspiration is to continue to develop the commission to be manned by very good people that will be able to sustain and maintain the reputation of the Nigerian Communications Commission even after I have left”, he said.

On the day the NCC boss was also decorated with the award of Icon of the Nigerian Telecom Revolution, at the ceremony organized by Telecom News magazine, he said Nigeria has a lot to celebrate on the 7th anniversary of the telecom revolution as Nigerian has become the leading telecom nation in Africa in terms of subscriber base, at more than 54 million lines as at today, and is one of the top ten countries in the world in the field of growth of the telecom industry.

According to him, the sector has witnessed surprised expectations with huge investments still coming, citing an instance with the buying of Multilinks by Telkom South Africa, the merger of four operators to form the bigger Visafone, the partial acquisition of Intercellular by Sudatel, and expansion of the investment base of Starcomms which has also gone to the stock market, as very significant in the attractiveness of the industry to telecom investments.

“Since January this year, the telecom network has witnessed steady growth which currently outstrips 1.2 million lines every month, which indicates the fact that the growth rate is still not abetted. This also shows that Nigeria has witnessed economic growth because there is a linkage between acquisition of telecom services and economic improvement”, he said.

Dr. Ndukwe also said Nigeria is proud to be playing host to other African regulators who are seeking to understudy the various processes and strategies adopted by the Commission to register the current successes. These countries include Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Liberia, Gambia among others.

He also said the Commission has been very active on the issue of quality of services across the networks with marginal improvements recorded against all odds. According to him, some of the measures taken in this direction include the imposition of compensation to the subscribers. He said this is the first time a telecom regulator in Africa, if not in any part of the world, would force the operators to pay compensation to all the active subscribers in their networks.

He said the reason for forcing the compensation was because the Commission believed that the subscribers would have lost some seconds and minutes as a result of the unacceptable quality of services rendered by the affected operators.

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Privacy Notice: Essentials of Mozilla Firefox version 3 (2)

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Visafone lifts 200 Okada riders

Visafone flagged off its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative at the Victoria Island Bar Beach last weekend with the presentation of some helmets and reflected jackets to some Okada riders.

According to Tolulope Ogunlesi of the Corporate Communications at Visafone, the event witnessed the presentation of over 200 protective helmets and reflective jackets to Okada riders drawn from Victoria Island – Law school and Eko Hotel Roundabout units.

Working in conjunction with Arrive Alive, an NGO committed to ensuring the safety of motorists and road users across Nigeria, the Visafone official said it launched the initiative as a means of contributing to the safety of road users as well as cushioning the traumatic head injuries suffered by okada drivers who usually drive without helmets while also providing reflective jackets for night time operations.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Chike Nwaka, Zonal Commanding Officer, Zone II Head Quarters of the FRSC who was represented by Assistant Corps Commander, Mr. M. L Abdullahi commended Visafone for the initiative which he called a “timely and worthwhile venture that will reduce fatalities on our roads and protect the lives of both okada riders and their passengers.”

Explaining the rationale behind the CSR initiative, Visafone, Head, Communications at Visafone, Mr. Toni Kan Onwordi said Visafone has and will always “look beyond the bottom line as a responsible corporate citizen. As a wholly Nigerian owned company, we are committed not just to ensuring that Nigerians experience the joy of communication through our services, we also want them to experience a better quality of life by empowering them economically and ensuring safety of lives on our roads.”

According to the company, the Bar Beach event is a pilot scheme and will be replicated across the state and country in due course.

ITRealms Online recalls that the emerging leader in the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operators in the country, Visafone Communications Limited, rolled out in the ancient city of Kano.

Head, Corporate Communications, Visafone Limited, Mr. Toni Kan, said that Kano has joined the growing list of cities enjoying Visafone passport to connect the world.
During the launch, he said, the management team of the telco paid a courtesy visit to the Emir of Kano.

The team led by the Northern Regional Head, Visafone, Mr. Taiwo Ogunkanmi, said the launch was on the heels of a test-run recently concluded in the city by the telco.
He also told the Emir that Visafone’s strategies are aimed at ensuring that Kano experiences to the fullest the joy of communications for which the company is known for.

While expressing gratitude to the monarch, Ogunkanmi said, Visafone was in Kano to help speed up economic growth and human capacity development.

Responding, the Emir of Kano said, he was aware of the company’s emergence and entrance into Kano as well as the progress the company was already making.
He promised to offer the company “any assistance you may require in Kano.”

In another development, plans are already in top gear for Visafone’s commencement of operations in the city of Zaria.

This launch is coming at a time the company is intensifying its resolve to cover the entire country with its network.

Mr. Kan, added “we are spreading the joy of communication to Zaria in fulfillment of our pledge to offer Nigerians a passport to reach the world. Zaria is strategic because it is a university town and Visafone is a very youth-centric brand.”
He recalled that Visafone launched commercial operations on February 22, 2008 in 12 states and over 100 cities.

The company has since grown its coverage area to 16 states and over 150 cities in the past 3 months in fulfillment of its promise to provide Nigerians with a veritable “passport to reach the world.”

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Poor internet connectivity worries Rufai

MANAGING Director, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat), Mr. T. Ahmed-Rufai has decried the lack of internet connectivity at all levels of education in the country, reports CHARLES OKOH.

Mr. Ahmed-Rufai who spoke during a recent chat with newsmen wondered what kind of learning would be achieved in this age without connectivity to the world wide web.

"We have about 6,500 primary schools in this country and less than one per cent of them have access to internet connectivity; the same thing is happening to our secondary schools and universities. Now tell me, what learning will anyone achieve in this age without connectivity to the world wide web," he lamented.

On how NigComSat could create jobs, he said: "if you are going to create jobs, you first need to have to create skills and if you are going to create skills, you have to create a knowledge and learning base for the entire country."

He said Japan, Singapore, Korea, England and the United States achieved their present status because of knowledge and technological innovation.

"The US has the world largest oil reservoirs. They are followed by Canada but they are under lock and key till date, particularly the off-shore. They are not exploring, so, oil is not the basis of their position in the world economy. They got to that position from the day John F. Kennedy made the proposition that they were going to put a man in the moon," he said.

As a result of that, Mr. Ahmed-Rufai said, more than 20,000 small and medium scale (SMEs) engineering companies were formed to achieve excellence in all their various areas and that had a spill over effect on micro-electronic industries.

He also decried the poor quality of graduates from our higher institutions of learning, adding that NigComSat plans to set up internet centres in select institutions so that students could have affordable access.

Incorporated on April 4, 2006 as a wholly government-owned limited liability company, NigComSat Limited, is the first African satellite communications company to manage and operate the first geostationary communications satellite (NigComSat-1) in sub-Saharan Africa.

NigComSat was established to carry on business for profit, manage, operate and maintain in orbit communications satellites in respect of; satellite to satellite services, telephony (urban and rural), television, HDTV, DTH, teleprocessing, telepresence, tele-education, telemedicine, e-government, e-commerce, satellite radio, mobile and paging, broadcasting, broadband internet services, Real time monitoring services in shipping, petroleum pipeline, navigation, global positioning systems, and services or facilities, earth stations, terminals, antenna, frequency bands (C, Ku, Ka or L bands).

NigComSat 1 has two ground control stations for the orbit maintenance and network operation services of the satellite. These two stations are located in Kashi, China and Abuja, Nigeria, with the latter being the stations main station and the former servicing as back up station.

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NiRA's 2nd AGM holds today

The Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) would today at the Ikeja Airport Hotel, Lagos host its second Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The event has as part of its agenda to receive the annual report and financial statement for the year ended May 31, 2008 together with the auditors report.

NiRA president, Mr. Ndukwe Kalu, equally said that the AGM would approve a business plan and budget for the period of the current financial year which began June 1, 2008 through May 31, 2009.

In addition, the house would authorize the directors to fix the remuneration of the auditors as well as reviewing of the constitution.

ITRealms Online recalled that stakeholders in the nation’s Information Technology (IT) subsector recently commended the release of 14 policy-documents by the NiRA.
Equally the National IT Development Agency (NITDA) had in Abuja signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the take over of the Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) by NiRA, subsequently, the association put into the public domain 14 policy-documents seeking comments from the Internet community.

Commenting on the policy documents in a chat with newsmen, some stakeholders commended the releasing of the documents into the public domain, which they said positions NiRA as truly carrying stakeholders along and organised in an open-door policy.

Some of those who spoke on the documents included the Director, Licensing at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mrs. Mary Uduma, Registrar, Computer Professional Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), Mr. Sekiru Shehu and industry enthusiast, Mr. Tope Fashedemi.

According to Mrs. Uduma who also is the Vice President of NiRA, the recent endorsement of dotted lines by NiRA and NITDA for a successful take over of .ng management followed by the release of 14 policy-documents would enable Nigerians and

Internet community precisely to contribute their quota from the beginning.
She also said that the take over would afford Nigerians to truly fly the nation’s flag on the Internet.

Nigeria, she said, has to ensure a secured but globally accepted standards for the local hosting of the ccTLD, “That is the only way to ensure transparency and stability.”

For the CPN registrar, Mr. Shehu, Nigerians must embrace the challenge posed by the long time controversies that trailed the .ng growth in the country by ensuring that they are part of the current revolution.

He also charged Nigerians and the nation’s media especially those in the core Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector to be really and actively involved so as to make the success of the input being seek by NiRA to ensure they understand the relevant needs of the policy-documents so as to contribute adequately and rightly informed the public and Internet community accurately.

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LASIMRA hosts summit on mast, towers

The Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA) has concluded plans to hold its maiden all-inclusive stakeholders’ summit in Lagos. The summit is scheduled to hold tomorrow, August 21st, 2008 at the Golden Gate Restaurant.

Disclosing this, head, Press and Public Relations Office, Mrs. Rahmat Alabi, LASIMRA, said the summit is designed to address the dangers associated with collapsed and abandoned masts and their implications.

She also said the event would be attended by top government officials, telecom operators, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), banks, allied companies and all other organisations that transmit information through masts and related technology.

According to her, Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), is expected to be the chief host of the occasion.

Additionally, the summit would address the need to intensify awareness and emphasize the importance to adhere strictly to safety and maintenance standards prescribed for infrastructural facilities across the state.

As said by her, LASIMRA is worried over the rising rate of collapse masts in the state and the dangers associated with it, hence the need to address the issue at the forum, just as the summit seeks to promote a harmonious working relationship between the agency and its primary stakeholders.

Alabi further said that Lagos State Government has left no stone unturned in its unrelenting efforts to engender an orderly environment that is conducive to living, working, movement of goods and services and recreation in the overall interest of the entire citizenry.

While soliciting the active involvement and participation of all stakeholders in the telecom industry, banks, internet service providers, radio, television stations, and allied companies, in making the maiden summit a huge success, she revealed that the agency plans to make the summit an annual event that would continually address burning issues among stakeholders.

Alabi noted that there is need to canvass for the creation of information/enlightenment stands by interested participants at the venue of the event.

Equally expected at the event is the governor emeritus of Lagos State , Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as special guest of honour. Guests of honour include chief executive officers of telecom companies, the 25 mega banks, ISPs, PHCN, NNPC Group, Lagos State Water Corporation, Gas/Oil companies and radio/television houses.

Corporate sponsors include 21st Century Technologies, Gaslink, Helios Towers , Multilinks, Globacom, MTN and Nokia Siemens Networks.

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NCC calls for reduced interconnect rates

EXECUTIVE Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe has called for a change in the Short Messaging Services (SMS) tariff from prepaid customers.

He said a situation prepared subscribers pay more than their post-paid counterpart is unacceptable just as he advised operators to ensure that the interconnection rate is reduced to at least N5 for SMS.

Dr. Ndukwe said that the present practice of between N9 and N10 as interconnect rate is unacceptable, advising that operators should work out an appropriate rate that is uniformed to encourage the use of SMS as an alternative platform to voice in the country.

Speaking during the recent consultative forum with operators and consumers in Lagos, he said, that the commission consistent with its participatory regulatory principles, before arriving at major decision that will impact on the industry, has assembled concerned stakeholders to participate in deliberating on the need for a reduction of SMS tariff towards encouraging telecommunications subscribers to effectively utilize SMS platform for communications.

Dr. Ndukwe also said the commission refrains from price regulation, even though it has the right to dictate price because it believes in a competitive market but when the commission feels that the cost is too high it would intervene.

According to the NCC boss, the reduction in interconnect rate which would ultimately lead to reduction in charges on SMS would be good for the industry and for the consumers.

Dr. Ndukwe said the lower tariff on SMS will not only reduce the pressure on voice but also increase the utilization of SMS as medium of choice of communication for consumers.

On the disparity in rate between pre-paid and post-paid subscribers, he described it as man’s inhumanity to man, wondering why pre-paid consumers who are in the majority in the country should pay more stating that in places where post paid consumers pay more this may be understood but that since the operators make more money from prepaid consumers, they should not be treated that way.

"Let Nigeria take the lead from others by charging less on the prepaid because they are in the majority in the country," he said.

He expressed thanks to the operators present for their positive attitude and willingness to cooperate with the commission on the need for reduction of the SMS rates.

Some of the operators who attended the forum included, Zain, Globacom, Zoom, Intercelluar, Visafone, MTN, Multi-Links Telkom, Starcomms and Etisalat.

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ATCON advocates standard committee on ICT awards

Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has expressed dismay over what it tagged “flagrant abuse of ‘Nigeria Telecom/ICT Awards’ by unknown fellows, just as it advocated for the setting up of “Nigerian Digital Awards Standards Committee” to harmonize the standards.

“… Even by organizations, groups and individuals who have no locus standi, experience, objectivity, expertise or link with the information and communications technology industry in Nigeria,” ATCON said.

A press statement signed by ATCON’s first Vice President, Chief Bayo Banjo and the Publicity Secretary, Mr. David Roberts, said the proposed committee would ensure a credible and internationally recognized and respected Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) awards in Nigeria, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), all ICT professional associations and concerned industry stakeholders.

The umbrella body of telecom companies in the country equally proposed that the committee would be all-encompassing in its composition.

The group urged support for Nigerian Digital Awards Standards Committee expected to set the mandatory standards for credible awards selection processes for the sector.

According to the press statement, a panel composed of respected, principled, objective, relevant and experienced professionals “should be selected or constituted by the NCC and the body of industry associations to handle the evaluation and selection processes in accordance with the provision of the Nigerian Digital Awards Standards Committee.”

They noted that it is on record that the communications industry in Nigeria is currently ranked second only to the oil industry, thus undisputedly one of the world’s fastest growing markets for mobile communications.

Pointing out that the industry regulator, NCC, today enjoys worldwide respect for its principled, professional and transparent handling of telecom licenses auction processes.

“In fact, Nigeria has led the world in many aspect of telecommunications development since the deregulation of the sector in 1992. All these have brought a sense of pride to our nation and we should not fold our arms and allow self-seeking individuals of group mar these achievements,” the group said.

For concerned ATCON, the dangers posed by indiscriminate and in most cases, frivolous awards which often do not follow standardized and credible processes of selection of awardees, is fast becoming a kind of scam which, if not curtailed now, could further erode Nigeria’s image and credibility both at home and abroad.

“What impression would be created if two or three separate companies turn up at an international function all claiming to be the ‘Nigeria Telecom Company of the Year 2007’?” they asked.

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Nakande to open Convergence forum

The Minister of State for Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande, would Friday this week, declared open the second IT Edge-organised West Africa Convergence Forum in Lagos.

The organizers said that participants would cut across the oil and gas, banking, legal, telecom and entertainment sector.

According to them, the high profile event has more than 30 speakers lined up, including Nigeria’s chief telecom regulator Dr. Ernest Ndukwe as confirmed lead discussant in the five sessions IT Edge Convergence Forum.

Also, they said, discussions are expected to articulate the way forward on the future of the industry in sub-Sahara’s biggest telecom market with a combined active telecom subscription in excess of 78 million, as Nigeria leads the West Africa sub-region with over 56 million telephone subscribers.

Part of topics to be centred on include the rights infringement of intellectual property by content providers; and the provision of robust infrastructure to accelerate the growth of convergence.

The event with the theme “Infrastructural Challenges in the Converging environment” they said, would also have the United Nations on consultant on Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D), Ghanaian Prof. Clement Dzidonu who would be joining chief executive officers, namely the Ibadan-based ISP Skannet, Mr. Sunday Folayan on the opening session tagged: West Africa: The Convergence-Environment and Policy Implications. Dzidonu would be examining the ‘Implications of Convergence within the ICT4D space.’ He is to be joined in discussions by Folayan and Chris Uwaje, two leading private sector players pushing conduit services and content.

The Infrastructure session, they said, is to feature some of the industry’s chief executive officers and chief technical features of backbone providers including Dr. Kwame Boakye, CEO of Backbone Connectivity Network, Ola Popoola of Phase 3 Telecom, Gerald Ilukwe of Galaxy Backbone. They would be joined by Professor Boroffice Ajayi, director general of Nigeria Agency for Space Research and Development (NARSDA) among others.

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Odey welcomes Zain

Minister of Communications, Chief John Odey, has welcomed the recent rebranding of Celtel to Zain.

At a session with officials Zain Nigeria at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, led by the chief executive, Mr. Bayo Ligali, the Minister said, the government is at ease with the rebranding of Celtel in Nigeria and the introduction of the Zain brand in line with the leading global mobile operator on the continent of Africa and Middle East.

He also commended Zain for investing heavily in infrastructure development across various communities in the country, stressing that the telco’s massive expansion project has brought relief to many people especially rural dwellers in this part of the world.

In his remark, Ligali explained the reasons for the transformation of Celtel to Zain, saying that the brand identity change was in line with the leading international mobile operator strategy of unifying its brands into one big, strong, easily recognizable and acceptable global brand.

Ligali was also quoted in a press statement made available to Champion Infotel by the Public Relations Manager, Zain Nigeria, Mr. Emmanuel Otokhine as saying that the rebranding would bring a lot of benefits to customers of the company.

“Some of the benefits include more investment and infrastructure development in the country, access to One Network, Zain’s roaming charges-free service in numerous countries in Africa and the Middle East, improvement in service quality, greater synergy in terms of products and services developments and sharing of expertise and experience, among many others,” he said.

In addition, the Chief Executive said that customers of the company are now members of the over 52 million strong Zain family worldwide. He explained that the rebranding has not affected the management structure of the company, emphasizing that the management, board and owners structure under Celtel will remain in place under the Zain brand.

Just as Zain is currently pursuing an aggressive rural expansion and connection programme through the introduction of the most cost effective ultra low cost Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) handsets and rural distribution and entrepreurship programme, as well as the Rural Acquisition Initiative (RAI) that seeks to create wealth and jobs and involve communities in the maintenance, security of base stations and distribution of products.

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MultiLinks introduces virtual recharge

Multi-Links Telkom has introduced virtual recharge to make life easier for subscribers on its network.

A press statement from the telco endorsed by the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mr. Tayo Ekundayo said, that with the latest recharge option, subscribers on the Multi-Links Telkom could now enjoy a more flexible way of sustained and stable availability of recharge no matter where they are.

The virtual recharge solution enables customers to recharge their mobile handset credit account through the Internet without the need of having to purchase physical recharge cards.

The Chief Executive Officer, Multi-Links Telkom, Mr. Justin Ramayia, assured that the Internet recharge solution is one of the different valued added products being introduced to make the services of the company more dynamic and user friendly.

Justin expressed delight at the new offering which empowers the customers of Multi-Links Telkom to take ownership of the recharge process even right in the comfort of their domains. He assured that the customer-centric focus of Multi-Links Telkom has made it compelling for the company to proactively develop products that will always delight its customers.

Noting that this is the first phase of its electronic recharge rollout, the Multi-Links Telkom boss said all holders of Interswitch branded ATM bank card have been linked to the Internet recharge solution. And to access this recharge option, he said that Multi-Links Telkom subscribers can visit www.PrePaidNigeria.com site.

At the site, customers are expected to follow easy steps to purchase electronic recharge PINs in any denomination from the comfort of their home, office or cybercafé with the use of their bank’s ATM card.

He noted as well that the virtual recharging has entrenched security features which make it very safe and secure for all patrons of the new product.

The new product was developed for Multi-Links in partnership with Prepaidnigeria; a company renowned for e-Voucher purchase by individuals, groups and corporate institutions.

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Globacom bags 3 awards

Globacom Limited weekend won three industry awards at the 2008 Nigeria Telecoms Awards, which held in Lagos.

A press statement from the Second National Operator (SNO), informed that Globacom was adjudged the Best Telecoms Company of the Year, The Best Mobile Company of the Year and Best Telecoms Investor of the Year.

Philips Consulting conducted the rating as part of the annual Nigeria Telecoms
Awards organised by Logica communication, publishers of Telecom News, an industry review magazine.

With the three awards, Globacom, which operates in the fixed, mobile, broadband and International Gateway communications sub sectors, sits atop the industry in terms of overall performance.

Globacom said the operator was named Telecoms Company of the Year because of its integrated operations, which have seen the company consolidating on its mobile and fixed services while laying optic fibre cables across the country to provide infrastructure for broadband data and voice communications. The infrastructure is already carrying traffic for other operators and the corporate sector. The fixed line arm of Globacom has commenced the connection of customers in both Lagos and Abuja while the switches in various other cities across the country are being completed.

Also as the Telecoms Investor of the Year, the organizer in the citation released said Glo was rated high for its recent international rollout in Ghana and Benin republic.

“Its submarine cable project running from Lagos to the United Kingdom through the West African coast was also listed in the consideration,” the press statement read.
On the best Mobile Company, Globacom was rated for its value-added services, fast rollout and quality of service, which is attested to by industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

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MTN connects Mbaise

Telecommunications Company MTN Nigeria has again showed a willingness to give back to the society through her unwavering support of the culture of the Nigerian people by being the chief sponsor of the 2008 edition of the New Yam festival in Mbaise, held on 15 August, 2008 in Mbaise, Imo state.

The mobile telephone company which is committed to empowering Nigerians with access to communication that connects them to their loved ones has through its family and friends’ brand, XtraConnect brought a unique appeal to the 2008 edition of the Iri iji festivities of the Mbaise people of Imo state.

This unique communal development initiative is one which is highly welcomed and appreciated by the people and rulers of Mbaise as the telecoms company’s involvement has also been viewed as an attraction for the younger generation so that they can appreciate and understand the essence of the Iri iji festival.

Speaking on this, the Imo state Commissioner for Petroleum and Environment, Hon. Agunwa Okechukwu, who is also an indigene of Mbaise, applauded the effort and involvement of MTN in this year’s Iri iji festival. He further escalates that other industries should emulate the efforts of MTN because it is only in giving back to society those organisations can maximally and positively impact lives.

“Iri Iji Mbaise is a celebration of a bountiful harvests and the only communal festival which brings together the three main local governments of Mbaise, it is a celebration of an age old culture and MTN’s involvement is viewed as a contribution to the growth and development of the Mbaise culture and people and it is a welcomed development which we hope other organisations will emulate and inculcate,” he Said.

The weeklong celebration of Iri iji festival which is also a celebration of unity since it brings together indigenes of the three local governments in Mbaise, comprised a number of events such as a football match, a colloquium, a courtesy call to the Eze and a cocktail, with the Iri Iji festival as the grand finale.

The traditional ruler Royal Majesty Eze Joe Oleka Obioha appreciated MTN’s care and support of the Mbaise people. He further reiterated that such gesture was welcome in Mbaise. Having spent 25 years on the throne to celebrate this festival he was ecstatic that a corporate organisation could contribute to the Mbaise community in such manner.

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