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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

2008: A year of convergence

Broadcasters, NCC spoil for war over 2.5G


Broadcasters under the aegis of Microwave Multi-channels Distribution Systems (MMDS) operators in the country are spoiling for war with the telecommunications regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), over the declaration of commercial frequency bands available for licensing by NCC, especially on 2.5G spectrum.
Even as NCC has announced plans to audit the frequency spectrum already occupied in the 2.5-2.7 Gega Hertz (GHz) and 2.3 GHz bands.
This is coming as MMDS operators, penultimate week raised alarm over NCC’s plans to auction the Enhanced Second Generation (2.5G) spectrum being occupied by most of its members nationwide.
According to the Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Dave Imoko, the commission intends to assign portions of the 2.5 – 2.7 and 2.3 GHz bands for commercial telecommunications use in the near future, following the formal release of the bands to the commission by the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC).
Consequently, he said, this authorization paves the way for authentication and obtaining of an accurate data on all service providers or users already licensed by both the NCC, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) or any other competent authority empowered by NFMC.
He, therefore, implored every operator on the affected frequency to provide details of their authorization to the commission for authentication and update.
“All operators or users of spectrum in the frequency range 2500-2690 MHz and 2300-2400 MHz are hereby directed to supply the following information in respect of their authorizations,” he stated in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online.
Mr. Imoko, also outlined relevant documents required for the current authentication exercise to include a photocopy of the letter of assignment, of which the originals could be sighted on demand; photocopy of receipts for payment of spectrum renewal fees for the past three years.
“Photocopy of receipts for payment of spectrum renewal fees for 2006, 2007 and 2008 or from the date of assignment if less than 3 years,” he declared, which could be sighted on demand as well.
Current occupants are further required to provide information on their operational status and states in operation in addition to the detailed contact address of head office or operational base.
These, must include the name of the company, street address, city and state, telephone numbers (fixed & mobile) as well as the electronic mailing (e-mail) address.
Equally, NCC demanded for the name, contact address, e-mail and telephone number(s) of official representative or contact person.
As said by him, the above information should be forwarded to the chief executive officer of the commission in Abuja on or before January 16, 2009.
Additionally, NCC declared its intention to commercialize the frequency bands that are available to prospective companies and investors in the industry nationwide.
Imoko gave the list of some available frequency bands which NCC plans to offer for auction to qualified investors to include the core Third Generation (3G) Time Division Duplex (TDD) spectrum band, namely in block B: 1912.5-1917.5 Mega Hertz (MHz) TDD, block D: 2010-2025MHz TDD and block F: 2155-2175MHz TDD.
He pointed out that on 2.3 GHz band, NCC intends to offer 2300 – 2320 MHz bands available nationwide, except in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt.
The contentious 2.5-2.7GHz Band in TDD cum Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) would be offered in the 2500-2690 Mega Hertz (MHz) available nationwide and presently being re-farmed from other services to telecommunications.
Equally, the 5.4 GHz band, that is 5470-5725 TDD, that are available nationwide, would be auctioned alongside the 1800 MHz band in the 1785-1805 TDD spectrum.
Imoko pointed out that the announcement is, in the mean time, mainly for the information of the public as more details about the qualifying conditions for participation in the assignment process will soon be published.
ITRealms Online recalls that NCC had in the past auctioned some spectrum including three carriers in the 3.75 MHz within the 800 MHz spectrum band, 3G licensing, Digital Mobile Licensing (DML) popular known as the Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and Second National Operator (SNO)
However, preempting the possible conflict that may accompany the latest proposal by NCC, the MMDS operators, two weeks ago, warned on any attempt to recoup its members existing frequencies which are dominantly in the 2.5G.
Sounding the note of caution, MMDS operators, through the Vice president of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and chief executive, Disc Communications Limited, Chief Bayo Banjo, said that 2.5G range of spectrum, have been designed for use of digital television broadcast as well as broadband provisioning, through deployment of various formats like the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) among other broadband deliveries.
MMDS operators who are predominantly providers of broadcasting services using the 2.5G licensed spectrum, also said relevant consultations were not carried out by NCC before the announcement, although ITRealms Online gathered that last weekend saw series of meetings in camera among stakeholders.
According to Banjo, non-consultation prior to the proclamation brings about illegality and detrimental to the growth of the nation, noting that 2.5G spectrum has been in use by them in the past 15 years, after dully licensed by NBC and approved by the National Frequency Management Commission.
He made it clear that same licenses were renewed early 2008 for another five years and fully paid for as required by law.
“We would like to take this seriously because some of us have seen officials of NCC snooping around licensed MMDS operators with their spectrum analyzers, to determine what spectrum is in use,” he said, stressing that over the years, MMDS operators had invested over $40 million on expansion programme and for ordering of equipment, explaining that the NBC had in the last two years, forced all operators to scrap their analogue systems and go digital.
“Across the nation, all MMDS operators have scraped their equipment, lost all subscribers and have had to start from scratch. We are presently building up our subscriber base and have ordered thousand of digital decoders which have been paid for. We have also ordered WIMAX equipment in order to migrate simultaneously to broadband Internet Protocol Tv (IPTV) broadcast,” Banjo noted.
The operators further wondered if MMDS operators are lesser Nigerians that they cannot provide bandwidth and do triple play to merit such action from NCC.
He explained that the 2.5G spectrum, is currently regarded as a medium that allows operators to bridge the gap among all the diverse ethnic groups in the country, insisting that it should not auctioned.
Noting that NCC has lots of telecommunication spectrums to play with including the 3.2G, 2.3G, which is the most developed WiMAX frequency with the highest penetration of broadband.
According to him, the MMDS operators find it strange that NCC is considering auctioning of the 2.5G spectrum.
He called on NCC to have a rethink, while calling on government to intervene as quickly as possible.

What You should know about Twitter (1)

W
here did the idea for Twitter come from?
Jack Dorsey had grown interested in the simple idea of being able to know what his friends were doing.
Specifically, Jack wondered if there might be an opportunity to build something compelling around this simple status concept.
When he brought the idea up to his colleagues, it was decided that a prototype should be built.
Twitter was funded initially by Obvious, a creative environment in San Francisco, CA.
The first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006.
The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Obvious. In May 2007, Twitter Incorporated was founded.

Why do so many people seem to like Twitter?
Simplicity has played an important role in Twitter’s success. People are eager to connect with other people and Twitter makes that simple.
Twitter asks one question, “What are you doing?”
Answers must be under 140 characters in length and can be sent via mobile texting, instant message, or the web.
Twitter’s core technology is a device agnostic message routing system with rudimentary social networking features.

The year 2008 largely witnessed the understanding that convergence of technologies, is the way to grow the industry, reports REMMY NWEKE.

Preamble:
Though it was proclaimed by the telecommunications regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to be the nation’s year of broadband, 2008 turned out to be the year of convergence for the industry.
This, industry observers said, is not far from the outline by NCC because broadband tends to be the oil with which convergence is delivered to the populace and entails that no expert discusses convergence without the need to delve into essentials of broadband.

.ng MoU, a new beginning:
The year 2008 commenced in the sector with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) entering an agreement with the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) to herald a new beginning for the Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD), name .ng.
Although the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the management of the nation’s Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD), .ng, attracted commendations from stakeholders and the Internet community precisely, most of them described it as a positive chapter in the annals of Internet development in the country, which heralded the formal handover of the management of the ccTLD after long years of controversy that surrounded the evolution of dot ng.
This much was regarded as a key legacy of the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, based on his willingliness to see the transformation of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) industry in Nigeria.
Thus the responsibility now rests on the members of the Internet community under the aegis NiRA in the country to tap into this development by ensuring that from banks to government institutions and other private sector entities, down to individuals should ensure that they relocate or rename their domain names to include .ng, mostly since domain name registration on .ng is still largely the cheapest in the world as of today.

NiRA’s 13-policy documents:
Following the MoU NiRA signed with NITDA, the Internet association invited comments on 13-policy documents to guide its operations.
NiRA President, Mr. Ndukwe Kalu, noted that the group called for comments on the 13-policy documents to facilitate the formal commencement of activities after the MoU was signed.
“These policies are finally out for comments, debates and inputs,” he declared, adding that the first sets of policies are domain related which are 11 in number, including, policy development process, domain name policy, special domain name policy, fees policy, privacy policy and dispute resolution policy.
He listed others to comprise policies on general registration rules, registrant agreement, registrar agreement, registrar accreditation process and glossary as contained in the policy documents.
Additionally, Mr. Kalu pointed that apart from the above 11 named documents, there were two policy documents specifically mapped out to ensure good corporate governance in management of affairs of NiRA, thus aligning its procedure with international best practices.

NATCOMS backs GSMA on free anti phone theft:
Before the month of January 2008 could end, the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) voiced its insistence on free Anti-Mobile Phone Theft (AMOPHT) services in the country, appealing to the industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and telecommunications operators not to ignore its plea.
A few days earlier, the global umbrella body of the mobile telecommunications and Third Generation (3G) operators, the Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA), had reiterated its position on the services being free, even as it equally disagreed with NCC over the management of the International Mobile Equipment Identify DataBase (IMEI-DB) in the country.
NATCOMS also threatened to drag NCC and operators to the law court, if eventually all entreaties fell on deaf hears, just as the group planned to take its case to the Presidency and National Assembly.
Sounding this New Year warning, NATCOMS national president, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, said that the onus is on both NCC and telecoms operators to provide free anti-mobile phone theft service to the nation’s teeming subscribers as it is free in any other part of the world where such initiative exists.
Recalling that NATCOMS in 2005 commenced an Anti-Mobile Phone Theft Initiative tagged Anti-MOPHTI project at the monthly edition of NCC-organised Telecoms Consumer Parliament. “Everyone present then agreed that something should be done to stop the criminal menace,” he asserted, stressing that as a follow up, NATCOMS wrote an Anti-MOPHTI proposal through the Presidency to NCC as at March 20, 2006, which was acknowledged by April 19 of the same year.
NCC went on to invite NATCOMS for a meeting on the details of Anti-MOPHTI alongside the representatives of Newstream Technologies Limited, the company being touted to be behind regulator’s motive to introduce charges over the battle against phone theft.
“We should always do things according to and in line with international best practices, which in this case must be free of any charges to Nigerian subscribers as supported by the GSM Association – International,” he said.

Stakeholders meet on draft ICT4D:
In the first quarter of 2008, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) supported the gathering of stakeholders in ICT in Lagos to brainstorm on the nation’s ICT for Development (ICT4D) draft organised by the National IT Development Agency (NITDA).
In his message to the occasion, Director-General, NITDA, Prof. Cleopas Angaye represented by Director, Technical Services, Dr. Moses Ubaru, said that the workshop has become imperative to ensure that Nigeria achieved the set goals.
“It is important to note that the direct relevance and usefulness of the Nigeria ICT4D plan in achieving the present administration’s Seven-Point agenda and positioning Nigeria amongst the 20 leading economies by year 2020,” he said, pointing out that the final document, which formed the outcome of the workshop was presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.
He noted that in sub-Sahara Africa, only South Africa made substantial progress in leapfrogging its economy through ICT with heavy investment made in the last 10 years to build robust ICT infrastructure and developed sufficient human capacity to manage same, as at January 31, 2008.

Transcorp insists NITEL is on course:
Also the first quarter of 2008, saw the owners of Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and its mobile arm, Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTel), the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (TRANSCORP), insisting that the transformation, which commenced six months earlier is on course.
Then Group Managing Director, Transcorp, Mr. Tom Iseghohi, said that contrary to insinuations, Transcorp is making progress in working with other stakeholders to restore NITEL and MTel to enviable positions.
“We’re following a rigorous but disciplined process in working with the management of NITEL and MTel as well as other stakeholders to ensure that these organisations return to efficiency and profitability. In doing this, we must avoid the mistakes of the past,” he said.
On the revocation of the sale of NITEL, he said that such calls are mischievous. “Such calls are not only mischievous but illogical. Those making such calls are the beneficiaries of the misfortune of NITEL, the perpetrators or their agents,” he alleged and planned to retrench workers was not in the agenda of the organisation as at the early part of 2008.
Transcorp later in the year appointed American, Mr. Kevin Caruso as the new managing director of NITEL, while Iseghohi was elevated to chairman, NITEL board.

NCC worried over unavailable emergency numbers:
Worried by the unavailability of emergency numbering system NCC, assembled telecommunications operators to a one-day session to deliberate on this matter and chart a way forward.
The meeting was attended by stakeholders in emergency-related entities, like the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and a consultant as well as all the key three Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators, namely Glo, MTN and Zain then Celtel.
Executive Commissioner at NCC, Mr. Stephen Bello, informed participants that the commission was very concerned, hence, it’s championing the meeting, noting that various categories of gathering have been scheduled with relevant stakeholders to enable adequate inputs from the generality of the nation’s interest parties. Also, Mr. Bello said that NCC was contemplating introduction of some emergency numbers, namely 999, 111, 123 and 555.

Operators decry incessant summons:
GSM operators in 2008, decried constant invitation to attend a meeting by the National Assembly. Noteworthy, was that between the last quarter of 2007 and first quarter of 2008, there was no fortnight without operators being summoned to Abuja by members in the name of trying to find a solution to the lingering poor quality of service (QoS) in the land.
The operators, also indicated that they planned formal protest to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, over the effect of the weekly summons, which had become irritating, through its umbrella body, the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
They expressed dismay over the insistence by the National Assembly for only chief executives to lead the team each time such a meeting was called. “What we asked is an enabling environment to do our business. Our business is not conducted at the National Assembly, and we need to deploy our executive time to our businesses,” one of the operators fumed, after the public hearing at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“We have the telecommunications laws and regulations that guide our operations in this country, and we have not defaulted in any one of them, and if we did, we expect the NCC to give sanctions as provided by law and not the National Assembly,” our source lamented.

Chams takes 3 subsidiaries to capital market:
Leading indigenous Information Technology (IT) firm specializing in plastic card technologies and electronic payment solutions, Chams Nigeria Limited, in the year under review advanced plans to list its three subsidiaries in the capital market this year, 2009.
Managing Director, Chams, Mr. Demola Aladekomo, who disclosed this, said that it’s in line with the aspiration of the company to make the firm an enlarged player in the nation’s economy in the coming years.
Chams group has as its subsidiaries four firms, namely Chams Nigeria Limited, Card Centre Nigeria Limited, Paymaster Limited and Supercard Nigeria Limited.

Omatek exits SME scheme
Local manufacturer of computers and allied Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Omatek Computers Limited, successfully exited the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Scheme, even as it headed to the capital market by mid-year 2008.
Group Managing Director, Omatek Computers, Mrs. Florence Seriki said that the announcement brought to conclusion the SME synergy between her company and two leading banks in the country, GTBank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.
Equally, she said that a new subsidiary has been formed; Omatek Power & Engineering Services Limited (OPESL), which manages the back-up support for all Omatek brands from the resource centres to 600 VA Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) to 100KVA as well as batteries and inverters among others.

Zinox commences 5,000 PC daily outputs:
Zinox Computers in April last year, commenced daily commercial output of 5,000 personal computers from its modern factory in Lagos.
Chairman, Zinox Technologies, owners of Zinox brand, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh, disclosed this while conducting the former President, Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Chief Chris Uwaje round the new factory, which was commissioned in April 2008 to raise installed capacity of the brand to 5,000 systems daily.
Thus, a perfect answer for those who are wondering on the capacity of the local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to deliver on numbers. Additionally, he said that the new factory tend to address the aspiration of Nigerians that the IT sector should lead the trade expansion into West Africa, thereby providing employment for Nigerians and citizens of the sub region.

DaarComms is the power house:
The month of February 2008, saw the pioneer private broadcasting entity, Daar Communications Plc, proclaiming it dreamt of a digitised media powerhouse to serve the needs of the continent and beyond, as the company said the bulk generated from its Initial Public Offer (IPO) would be for migration of its equipment from analogue to digital systems.
This dream became reality with DaarComms introducing a new digitised pay TV with 40 channels in October 2008, in a grand styled launch that attracted who is who in the nation’s political and broadcasting industry, with president Yar’Adua performing the official ceremony.
DaarComms’ IPO sold 960,000,000 ordinary shares, to raise N10 billion deal of 50 kobo each at N5 per share, which would lasted till the end of March, 2008, according to its Chairman, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi.

Microsoft Nigeria empowered 2500 youths:
Microsoft Corporation, during the year under review empowered 2500 Nigerian youths, as said by the Citizenship Manager, Microsoft West Africa, Mrs. Jummai Umar-Ajijola.
She said that Microsoft rates Nigeria top on its priority list while other countries of note include Senegal and Kenya to name a few, adducing that this was the reason for the commencement of its Youth Employability Programme (YEP) in the country in collaboration with the International Youth Foundation (IYF).
She also said that within the unlimited potential programme of Microsoft, that by November last year, 2,500 Nigerian youths were selected and trained nationwide to become employable with placement of at least 70 per cent of this figure in jobs would have been accomplished.
To this end, she said, Microsoft is partnering with local non-governmental organisation, Leadership Africa Programme (LEAP) and job placement agencies to accomplish these goals, with the youths, aged between 13 and 18 were involved in the programme.

ATCON summit on local content:
Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), hosted stakeholders to a summit on local content, as well as ComBIT, its reformed NICOMM exhibition and conference; opened by former Minister for Information and Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande.
President, ATCON, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, who secured a second term, said that the one-day stakeholders summit on Local Content Development in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, focused on examining the challenges faced in developing local contents in the sector.
The summit, he said, equally enabled stakeholders to develop a position paper for a policy framework on local content development in the nation, even as ATCON feels strongly that local ICT infrastructure providers require some measure of protection against their multinational counterparts whose corporate strength could extinguish the local players.
Noting that local hardware and software developers must be given some kind of support to enable them grow, expand and continue to provide employment to millions of Nigerians.
“It is envisaged that if government and other relevant institutions, like the financial institutions, do not provide adequate protection and support to our local ICT industrialists, they would be heading towards economic doom,” he warned.

… Canvasses registration of SIM cards:
Worried by increasing crime rate within the GSM networks, the ATCON during its 2008 Annual General Meeting (AGM) listed top on its agenda the proposal for urgent accreditation of Subscriber Identification Modules (SIMs) nationwide, which was intended to automatically halt the hawking of SIM packs on the streets.
Eight months later, the concept received green light from stakeholders led by NCC, which formed part of essential steps in the right direction that were taken in the year just ended year, 2008.
SIM pack contains SIM card and other valuable information for customers or potential subscribers. SIM card is a small electronic card also called smart card used in mobile phones which carries the phone number, the operator’s serial numbers and used in identifying a telecom subscriber on a given network for billing and sundry services as well as a device for storing information in mobile phones for Security Information Management (SIM) purposes; a concept in data security which transfers from one mobile handset to another as far as the handsets in question have cellular modules.
ATCON national president, said it would aid national security greatly, and stressed that the call has become necessary due to the security repercussions, and requested for mandatory call data retention database of all telecom operators to boost cyber-security initiatives of the government, as well as advocating that this database be highly classified as confidential and passworded, and restricted to on-line access to subscriber bio-database by appropriate law enforcement agencies via a multilaterally agreed access due process.

Etisalat goes commercial with Easy Starter:

Several months after its media launch, the fifth GSM operator, Etisalat Nigeria, made its commercial launch with a prepaid platform known as Easy Starter, the first from Etisalat, according to the Vice President, Marketing, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Wael Ammar.
Easy Starter uniqueness, he said, distinguishes Etisalat operations as a Nigerian brand of prepaid on the network and comes with a robust range of unique offering.
“The Easy Starter is the first prepaid package from Etisalat with a robust range of services geared towards giving subscribers value and optimized talk time,” he said.
Looking back at the commercial launch, Ammar said that eager subscribers have continued to throng the company’s designated centers to redeem their reserved numbers and take advantage of its unique service offerings. Noting that redemption centers, including Etisalat shops nationwide and selected branches of Oceanic Bank, Sweet Sensation and Big Treat Supermarket, have continued to play host to a large turn out of subscribers in a bid to redeem their Easy Starter prepaid packs, depending on their choice under the pre-commercial launch campaign, 0809uchoose.
The Unified Access Licensee (UAL), Etisalat Nigeria, further said it’s eyeing to become one among the global 10 mobile operators by 2010.
Remarkably too, was the pre-launch of Etisalat Nigeria’s 0809uchoose, with a promise to replicate what the operator did in Egypt, where it is on record that it achieved over a million of subscribers in 12 months after a commercial unveiling.
The 0809uchoose option which allowed subscribers to reserve special numbers and gain five minutes free airtime for life.

Numbering plan:
Subject of concern within the year under review was the planned adoption of portable numbering plan, which the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, said that apart from enthroning convergence in the polity would boost market evolution, when eventually it comes up stream.
Speaking at the four-day workshop organised by NCC in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Lagos, Dr. Ndukwe, who was represented at the occasion by the former Communications Minister and NCC commissioner, Chief Olawale Ige, noted that Nigeria as a leading country on the continent in terms of mobile communications, has continued to record success, even as it has surpassed South Africa in terms of mobile subscriber base.
Described as a cornerstone for market evolution and growth, the EVC noted that introduction of portable numbering has become critical component towards provision of communications services that would impact on how operators conduct business, and services are rolled out as well as how subscribers would behave in the near future.

Empowering NCC:
Nigerian Senate within the year identified areas it could strengthen the regulator, NCC, in order to improve on the Quality of Service (QoS). Senate Committee chairman on Communications, Senator Sylvester Ndubuisi Anyanwu, pointed out at a recent one-day public hearing on QoS in Abuja, that his committee had advanced plans to introduce new laws into the regulation of the sector that would tackle complaints against poor telecommunications services by various operators.
He said, the proposal would empower NCC to make it mandatory for operators to refund subscribers on established cases of call drops and call terminations or in any established situation of poor service delivery.

GSM operators drag NCC to court:
By dragging the regulator to the law court over a directive to pay compensation for poor Quality of Service (QoS), the two major GSM operators, Celtel and MTN, invariably were not on the popular side, even as a federal high court while sitting in Lagos, March 2008, ruled that mobile operators; MTN Nigeria and Celtel Nigeria (now Zain) must compensate subscribers for poor quality of service, by crediting them with N175 each, according to NCC directive.
ITRealms Online recalled that in September 2007, NCC had issued a directive to three GSM operators, including Glo Mobile, MTN and Zain; to repay subscribers for services that were below average quality, claiming that it was inundated with complaints from subscribers about poor and unacceptable level of services. And instead of complying, MTN and Celtel took NCC to court to halt the directive.
Delivering judgment, the presiding judge at the Lagos Federal High Court, D.D. Abutu, who initially stopped NCC from implementing the directive, pending the determination of the case slated to take effect on October 6, 2007, ruled in favour of NCC.
However, NCC, insisted that the two operators failed to achieve required Traffic Channel Congestion (TCH) levels, as measured by the commission’s Key Performance Indicator (KPI). It also directed the operators to pay all of their active subscribers through airtime credit, and that no time limitation shall be placed by the operator on the utilization of such airtime credit.
“All the active subscribers are to be credited between March 1, 2008, and April 15, 2008,” NCC spokesman, Mr. Dave Imoko said.

Politicking @ NCC & Glowing moment:
Politicking at NCC was not left out as it came to the forefront with the alleged plans to remove Ndukwe as the EVC, before the end of his tenure, even as the need to boost local content remain imperative, hence NCC among others are canvassing for broadband adaptation by all, especially in the 36 states of the federation. Obviously, the issue of EVC removal did not receive any support from the stakeholders both at home and abroad.
Globacom in June commenced its international operation with a launch in Benin, just as the Ghana network came live before the end of this quarter of 2009. Notable was that Glo’s move heralds the first of its kind that a home grown operator taking its trade offshore.

New comers and rebranding gallow:
Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Visafone Limited, made its entrance in the first quarter with commercial launch in 12 states and over 40 cities across the six geo-zones, on February 22, 2008.
Head, Corporate Communications, Visafone Limited, Mr. Toni Kan Onwordi, described it as “an unprecedented record in the history of Nigeria’s very vibrant and exciting telecoms sector.” He recalled that the record began on August 1, 2007 when the industry regulator, NCC, handed out a Unified Access License (UAL) to Visafone. The CDMA operator is known to have acquired some other regional operators like the Cellcom among others.
Onwordi revealed that Visafone’s coverage had grown within six months to 17 states in over 150 cities and had since crossed the 1 million subscribers mark.
While Celtel in a dramatic repositioning became Zain in August, alongside 14 other networks on the continent. The company said its plan is to become a strong number one brand in Nigeria, according the chief executive officer, Zain Nigeria, Mr. Adebayo Ligali. “We have to be the number 1 … Anything it would cost legitimately is what we would like to pursue,” he said.
He said that Zain as a group aims to be among 10 top telecom operators in the world in the next few years. Stressing that Zain has remained the fastest growing telecom operator among its peers for achieving from 5 million subscribers to 15.5 million. Insisting that Zain embodies peace, beautiful, joy and wonderful, explaining that the name was chosen out of 400 other names, even as the telco targets 110 million across its 22 networks globally.
Reltel was not left out of the rebranding gallow, as it became ZOOMmobile, while declaring attainment of over 1 million subscribers. Even as Multi-Links became Multi-Links-Telkom among others, dangling cars and free airtime on subscribers for receiving calls on the network.
Just as MTN followed Zain’s step by removing roaming charges on its network across the continent.

Arise CPN:
Invariably, the communications sub-sector has remained very active ahead of others within the sector like the core Information Technology (IT) sub-sector, just as the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), repackaged its professional examinations to accommodate online educational component, according to its Registrar and Chief executive, Mr. Sikiru Shehu.
He said that the repackaging was to offer Nigerians, especially the youths more options in being part of the 21st century revolution based on Information Technology (IT) literacy. “CPN has repackaged its professional examinations to make the graduates employment ready,” he said, emphasizing that Nigeria cannot forego IT at this time of development in the country’s quest to be part of the 20 most successful economies by 2020.
Shehu also said that the repackaging provides the exam with the purpose that it would always have recognition at every stage the candidate may decide to stop. “From kindergarten to primary it is now compulsory for pupils to be taken on English Language, Maths and Computer Science,” he said, noting that CPN was not ignorant of lack of teachers at this level thereby encouraging heads of kindergarten and primary schools to approach CPN for collaboration.
He, however, said that a big challenge here is non-availability of teachers to teach computer studies, just as there is now a window for those who could not gain admission into the universities due to their inability to either pass the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exams or make their papers as well as those who could not scale through the post-JAMB entrance exams of various universities.
He listed the pre-professional levels to include Computer Literacy Certificate (CLC), Computer User/Proficiency Certificate (CUC) and Computer Affiliate Examination (CAE). Within the CUC level, he listed about 12 specialization candidates could take interest in consisting Computer Secretarial Practice, Computer Desktop Publishing, Computer Utilization, Computer Operation & Programming, Office Productivity Expert, Website Development Expert, CAD Expert, DeskTop Publishing (DTP) Expert, Programmers, system audit expert, PC Maintenance expert and network expert.
CPN for the first time in the history of the body, attended International Telecommunication Union (ITU)-organised summit in Egypt, with its President, Dr. Mrs. Nike Osofisan, accepting the need for convergence. According to her, the era of individualization of technology is over.
This step was commended by the EVC of NCC, who disclosed that about 4000 teachers have benefited from training offered by the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) since inception.
The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) in efforts to showcase its reach nationwide took its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and international conference to Ogun State, which was described as a flop according to reports.
While the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) held an Annual General Meeting (AGM) which culminated in re-election of Mr. Lanre Ajayi as its President in addition to persistent on the need to promote local content via its pet-project, Internet for Job (I4J) initiative.

Toure visits Nigeria:
The year under review saw the Secretary General of ITU, Dr Hamadoun Touré in Nigeria for a three-day official visit from Thursday, April 10 to Saturday April 12, 2008. Dr Touré met with top government officials in the country to draw attention to the Connect Africa Initiative of ITU.
This was the first time the Secretary-General, ITU, the world telecommunications regulatory body, officially visited Nigeria since the establishment of the United Nations agency. Dr Touré met with President Umaru Yar’Adua, as well as other government officials including the Minister of Information and Communications, the board and management of NCC in Abuja.
Equally, he met Chief Executive Officers of leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies at a dinner hosted in his honour in Lagos.
Touré also visited projects related to the ITU Connect Africa Initiative such as the Digital Bridge Institute, the Digital Awareness Projects of the NCC and some Universal Access Projects of the Nigerian civil society.
Noteworthy was that Toure’s visit coincided with the period Nigeria attained the position of the largest telecommunications market on the continent, overtaking South Africa in number of active connected lines, as at January 2008.

Emulating telecom engineers:
Given that power is one of the 7-point agenda of Yar’Adua, it was time for experts to look inwards, according to the Chief Executive Officer, Telecom Answers Associate, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, who said the engineers in the power and energy sector should emulate their counterparts in the telecommunications.
Addressing members of the Abuja branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) last quarter, 2008, as a guest speaker, at the opening of the Engineering Week and AGM, Omo-Ettu who dwelt on “Energy Crisis and Economic Development: the Nigerian Telecommunication Development as case study.” He urged them to take up their rightful place in positioning the nation’s power sector by canvassing for genuine liberalization in that sector, noting that the power challenge in the country has graduated from being a mere problem to crisis and now has deteriorated to the level of emergency. “Nigerian engineers should admit responsibility for the power situation in the country and go to government with a comprehensive blueprint, asking to be given whatever they require to solve the problem,” he advised, warning however that they should not claim “knowledge of the energy sector” in isolation.
In addition, he revealed that a total of 210 Internet Service Providers (ISP) licensees were yet to take off in the country, about two years after they were granted licenses, citing the Internet Access to all Report of ISP Audit of 2006.
Omo-Ettu whose firm championed the study said that about 96 ISP licensees had their businesses short down prematurely due to poor public power supply.
He attributed the stunted growth of the telecom industry to the power crises, noting that Nigeria should have had more feasible Internet Service Providers (ISP) than what it has today.

Wrap up:
Although the federal government announced the change of guard at the Ministry of Information and Communication with Prof. Mrs. Dora Akunyili at the helm of affairs in the last quarter of 2008, most observers see it as set back on professionalism, but yet another group opted that she would deliver based on her performance at the National Agency Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Above all, Nigerians and stakeholders in the ICT sector look forward to a change in attitude by the government of Yar’Adua, especially in ensuring that convergence takes its place amidst government ministries operation.
Like one of the industry experts said, Akunyili and her ministry are the icons to watch in the new year.

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