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Nigerian Networks Not Robust to Implement Number Porting

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NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Eugene Juwah

By Emma Okonji

Contrary to the belief of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) that the country is long overdue for the implementation of  number portability, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), said the time was yet to mature.

Chairman of ALTON, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, in a chat with THISDAY said the unsteady condition of all registered networks as it relates to poor quality of service in recent times, was enough signal to convince the NCC that the networks are not robust enough to carry the capacity needed for number porting.

Citing instances of the recent fine of N1.17 billion imposed on four telecoms operators by the NCC for poor quality of service on their networks, as well as the reactions of affected telecoms operating companies, Adebayo argued that if the networks were strong enough, there would be no trace of dwindling network service and the issue of fine would not have arisen in the first place. “The fine is a clear indication that the networks are not healthy and should be strengthened if NCC expects better results from the standard it set, using the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs),” Adebayo said.

He advised NCC not to be in a hurry to implement Number Portability, so as not to add to the present ugly situation.

He rather suggested that NCC should encourage investment in alternative platform like the fixed line operation, to avoid over dependence on mobile, which he said was already suffering from congestion. He was of the opinion that Nigerians depended so much on mobile operation like the GSM service both in offices and homes, thus contributing to the heavy traffic being generated on the mobile networks.

“Mobile Number Portability is ill-timed. Nigerians are not ripe for Number Portability because networks not yet robust. With the issue of poor quality of service and fine from NCC, it goes to show that the networks are not robust enough for Number Portability. It also shows that if one network is shut down by government agencies or it goes down for any reason, no single operator has the headroom to accommodate the gap and capacity lapses it will create and that will be a problem for the industry. Subscribers cannot port from one network to another, if up to four operators were indicted for poor quality of service. If four operators have been declared by NCC as weak in terms of quality of service, then which network will subscriber port to when all the operators are not strong,” Adebayo asked.

NCC is insisting on the implementation of Number Portability and has concluded to commence the process across networks in September this year. Standing firm on its promise, the telecoms regulator, early this month, released a set of guidelines for the implementation of Number Portability across networks.

Number Portability is a process that allows subscribers to migrate from one network to another, in search of better quality of service, while still retaining the original GSM number, irrespective of the network the subscriber chooses to migrate to. NCC in its released guidelines, made porting free of charge for subscribers.”

Source: Thisday Newspaper

Telecoms: Broadband services to contribute N29.6bn to GDP

Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola JohnsonMinister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson
| credits: File

The telecommunications sector is expected to contribute about $190m (N29.6bn) to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product through broadband services by 2015.

The Director, Regulatory Affairs, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Osondu Nwokoro, said telecoms companies had provided nothing less than three million jobs and invested well over $16bn in the country since the liberalisation of the sector in 1999.

He said the telecoms sector remained a key driving force for the economy, adding that broadband services would boost the country’s GDP portfolio by $190m in the next three years.

Nwokoro said this in a paper he presented at the fourth West African Information and Communications Technology Congress in Lagos on Tuesday.

He argued that multiple taxation posed a great challenge to telecoms operators, insisting that the government was the loser at the end of the day as most of the taxes ended up in private pockets.

Besides, he explained that multiple taxation, alongside other hindrances such as vandalism, could discourage operators and make them withhold investment meant for the Nigerian market.

Nwokoro stressed that the telecoms operators might be forced to slow down investment in the country if there were constant threats to infrastructure in the face of multiple taxation and generally unfriendly business environment.

This, he said, was done by Econet in Zimbabwe when the telecoms company was frustrated by the Robert Mugabe government.

He, therefore, warned that care must be taken by relevant government agencies so as not to push the telecoms operators out of the Nigerian market.

Nwokoro, who asked the government to protect telecoms infrastructure, said, “The Federal Government has a key role to play where it comes to telecoms infrastructure. These should be seen as critical equipment just like the oil pipelines, as well as PHCN and NITEL facilities.

“Once it is seen as such, no ministry, department or agency will shut down base stations at will, which in most cases; have adverse effects on the quality of service.”

The Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Eugene Juwah, in a keynote address, said the commission had concluded plans to engage reputable international consultants to drive the strategy and design the processes for achieving broadband goals.

He added that the regulatory environment in the country had remained stable and attractive to the global investment community, hence the need to attract more broadband investors.

The NCC helmsman further said that Code Division Multiple Access operators such as Starcomms, Multilinks, Visafone, and ZOOMmobile, might soon be relocated to a new frequency spectrum band.

This, Juwah said, would assist in freeing up already scare resources for more telecoms operators without requisite spectrum allocation to deploy innovative and reasonably priced broadband services to the generality of the Nigerian population.

He said, “It is a well know fact the spectrum band between 790 – 862MHz is been occupied mostly by the CDMA players. Normally, the CDMA frequencies are not efficiently planned as is the case with Long Term Evolution frequencies.

“We have asked the CDMA players, who have tiny frequencies, which cannot do much on LTE, to upgrade. We have said if they are prepared to upgrade, the commission will re-farm these frequencies and give them a higher slot in terms of capacity to provide value services, but they must do LTE. A lot of them are already considering it. Very soon, CDMAs will have difficulty finding appropriate handsets because technology is changing. As they begin to realise this, CDMAs will begin to plan for LTE.”

The CDMA operators have been battling for survival in the face of multiple challenges such as subscriber preference for GSM technology, corporate governance issues, low capitalisation and poor promotion of CDMA technology, among others.

Meanwhile, the Editor-in-Chief, IT & Telecom Digest, organisers of WAFICT, Mr. Mkpe Abang, has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency for broadband deployment.

Abang argued that the country had conquered voice telephony and there was the urgent need to accelerate broadband deployment for the next phase of the country’s telecoms revolution.

Source: The Punch Newspapers

 

#Nigeria NCC Suspends Spectrum Licences Till 2015

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Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Eugene Juwah

 

By Emma Okonji

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it would not issue spectrum licences to operators until 2015 when telecoms broadcasting operators must have migrated from analogue to digital spectrum.

Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah gave the declaration in Lagos, while responding to the shortfall in broadband penetration in the country at a broadband forum organised by Accenture.

Juwah who lamented the shortage of spectrum licenses in the country, said by the end of the migration, most of the frequency slots currently being occupied by broadcasters would become available for auction.

He said the commission was already in talks with Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operators that are currently using the 790 Mega Hertz and the 862 Mega Hertz frequency band to free them up by migrating to Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in carrying out their operations.

According to him, the frequencies that were hitherto auctioned to them were not being fully utilised, insisting that such frequencies are better utilised for broadband penetration.

Juwah also promised to auction the reaming slots in the 2.3 Giga Hertz spectrum band when other expected spectrums must have been made available by their current users.

Addressing the regulatory intervention to deepen broadband access in the country, Juwah said NCC had adopted the Open Access Model (OAM) that would help unbundle broadband into three layers for easy broadband deployment. “The model provides a framework for sophisticated
infrastructure sharing and it will help unbundle broadband,” he said.

He listed the three layers to include passive layer, active layer and retail layer, stressing that no single operator would be allowed to operate in more than one layer, in order to achieve even distribution of broadband.

“With the model, bandwidth will be provided by the active infrastructure providers to the retail service providers on a fair and non-discriminate basis. The active infrastructure providers will buy bulk bandwidth from submarine cable companies, which are then delivered via optical fibre owned by the passive infrastructure provider,” Juwah said, adding that the implementation of the model will bridge the gaps in broadband deployment, eliminate last mile issue, reduce the price of bandwidth for end users and unlock the market for massive broadband usage in Nigeria.

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