Friday, June 25, 2021

Ubale Maska emerges Auction Adviser on 5G deployment @NCC - ITREALMS

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The Executive Commissioner, Technical Services at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Engr. Ubale Maska, has been named the Auction Adviser to the recently inaugurated Committee to develop Information Memorandum (IM) for the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) networks in the country, reports ITREALMS.
Inaugurating the 18-member Committee in Abuja recently the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, unveiled Commissioner Maska as Auction Adviser to the committee.

Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde quoted EVC in a press statement available to ITREALMS, as saying at the inauguration, that apart from developing the IM for auctioning of C-band spectrum for 5G deployment in Nigeria, the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the committee will include the development of an award process to be used pursuant to which the grant of Spectrum licenses may be made.

The Information Memorandum (IM) defines the process that the Commission has decided to adopt for the auctioning of the 3.5GHz spectrum band. It will provide information on the Nigerian telecommunications market, details of the Spectrum to be made available, the pre-qualification process, the Auction process and indicative timetable.

Other ToRs reeled out for the committee by Danbatta include the auctioning of the C-band spectrum for 5G deployment in Nigeria in line with the award process; as well as report regularly/fortnightly to the EVC through the Office of the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services of the Commission on the progress made by the Committee.

While expressing delight at the current stage of 5G deployment process in Nigeria, especially with respect to established mutual understanding among stakeholders that 5G service poses neither security nor health risk to users, Danbatta said the outcome of the work of the Committee is a major step towards realisation of 5G services in Nigeria.

As said by him, the NCC, in line with its mandate, has committed enormous resources to ensure harmonised spectrum is secured and released in a timely manner for present and future deployment of services that will underpin the fourth industrial revolution, including International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT-2020) services.

This, according to him, is in recognition of relevant provisions of the Nigerian Communication Act (NCA-2003) and its strategic plan for effective communications resource management, facilitating broadband penetration and improving Quality of Service (QoS) amongst others.

Further, the EVC said the Commission had ensured the participation of relevant staff in international fora, especially in the International Telecommunication Union Radio Telecommunication Sector (ITU-R) study groups, to enable the allocation of strategic Spectrum to IMT services, especially IMT 2020, which, he said, has been in the front burner in the last two ITU-R study cycles towards World Radio Communication Conference (WRC-15 & WRC-19).

"Arising from these efforts, which include engagements with relevant governmental and non-governmental organisations during preparatory meetings at National, Regional and Continental level, we have been able to secure harmonised frequencies for 5G deployment in Nigeria," he said.

He, however, stated where NCC desired premium spectrum like the 3.5GHz with good propagation characteristics suitable for capacity and coverage with good device ecosystem but did not have sufficient allocation, "we put in extra efforts and secured additional 160MHz in the 3.5GHz band by making huge commitment of resources to secure additional Spectrum from Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NigComSat)," culminating in a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NCC and NigComSat.

"Having put in these efforts and resources to secure, amongst others, contiguous Spectrum in a premium band like the 3.5GHz band that is being adopted as the best Spectrum for early deployment of 5G with about 70 per cent of 5G global deployment so far, it has become imperative to immediately re-purpose the 3.5GHz band in Nigeria for auction in accordance with best practices.

"In view of this, Danbatta said NCC Management deemed it necessary to constitute the committee with clear ToRs, adding that the committee members are expected to demonstrate strong commitment required to carry out these tasks and in a timely manner," he said.

Danbatta stated that even though some successful auctions have been conducted by the Commission in the past, "extra effort is required of us to ensure the success of this particular exercise since the 5G technology is just being adopted around the globe."

The EVC tasked the committee to consider benchmarking its activities against other countries where 5G has been successfully deployed through successful auction of relevant spectrum band like 3.5GHz.

The Executive Commissioner, Technical Services of the Commission, Engr. Ubale Maska, who doubles as the Auction Adviser, assured the EVC that the Committee will deliver on its mandate, noting, however, that work of the Committee is without prejudice to the approval of the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), which, he said, must be in place before 5G deployment can take commence in the country.

Also, Adinde quoted the EVC of NCC Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta as saying that at the inauguration of the committee, that apart from developing the IM for auctioning of C-band spectrum for 5G deployment in Nigeria, the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the committee included the development of an award process to be used pursuant to which the grant of Spectrum licenses may be made.

ITREALMS gathered that Engr. Maska following his graduation with a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) - Electrical from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria in 1982, Eng. Maska proceeded to Rivers State University of Science and Technology in Port Harcourt where he served as a teaching and laboratory assistant in the Electrical Engineering Department as his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) primary assignment.

He returned to ABU afterwards in 1983 as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Electrical Engineering in 1983, and was later promoted to Assistant Lecturer in 1986. During this period, he pursued and obtained a Master’s Degree (MSc.) in Electronics and Telecommunications from his alma mater.

Engr. Maska joined the National Universities Commission (NUC) in 1989, leaving in 1997 as Head of Hardware & Networking Division after also having served as Head of the System Administration Team of the NUC’s computer network, and representing the NUC on the steering committee of the Nigerian Internet Group (NIG). While at the NUC, Engr. Maska obtained his second Master's Degree, this time in Software Systems Engineering from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, gaining experience in the design and deployment of automatic control systems as part of the Master's programme in Lunen, Germany. His education continued following his return from the University of Sheffield with training courses in systems integration and structured cabling, which took him to TNSI (Canada), MIPD (USA) and several other institutions.

Engr. Maska next joined the Petroleum Equalization Fund (Management) Board (PEFB) as Manager in charge of its Management Information System (MIS) in May, 1997, where he spearheaded the development of various software packages to meet the needs of all arms of the fund and the training of more than half the workforce of the PEFB in basic computing skills. He also led the planning of the PEFB's computerization project for deploying Local Area Networks (LANs) in the Fund's Abuja and Lagos offices and other smaller installations in 22 NNPC depots across the country and connecting all networks together into a Wide Area Network (WAN) via satellite.

Following his stint at the PEFB, Engr. Maska moved to the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) in October 1999 as a Deputy General Manager in charge of Information Technology where he was responsible for all computing facilities and the LAN deployment and networking of the NSITF's Northern offices.

In 2001, Engr. Ubale Maska joined NCC as Deputy Director (Engineering Directorate - now Spectrum Administration Department). He was part of the team that pioneered the Spectrum Administration procedures and processes in respect of commercial Spectrum in Nigeria and the creation of a Spectrum Pricing Structure for the nation. He was also a member of the team responsible for the initial automation of Frequency Management Records, the establishment of the initial National Frequency Allocation Table in accordance with the ITU's recommendations and participated in the resolution of several frequency interference issues. Notably, he represented the NCC at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) – World Radio Conference (WRC), 2003

He then moved to the Technical Research & Standards Directorate where he participated in the preparatory meetings of the ITU – World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA), 2008. He was then appointed Head of Cyber Security in the newly created New Media & Information Security Department, where he initiated the process of establishing the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) for Nigeria, and also initiated collaborative relationships with numerous International bodies, most notably the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Cyber Security issues.

Engr. Maska was then posted to head the Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Department in 2011, where he spearheaded the formation of the Industry Working Group on Multiple Taxation/Regulation in Nigeria, and was promoted Director of the Department in 2012.

Engr. Ubale A. S. Maska is a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and is happily married with children.

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