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ALTON Rues Exclusion of Critical Telecoms Infrastructure in Abuja City Master Plan

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Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has identified the exclusion of critical telecoms infrastructures from Abuja Master plan, as contributory factor to the persistent poor quality of network services in major parts of the Federal Capital Territory.

Engineer Gbenga Adebayo, chairman ALTON, made the remark during a breakfast dialogue with Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) in Lagos, insisting that the Federal Government needs to review the master plan to make provision for the deployment of cell sites in the City.

Following recommendations by Justice Akinola Aguda Panel in 1975, the Federal Government established the Federal Capital Development Authority in 1976 which commissioned a US-based IPA Group, to prepare a draft Master Plan for the new Federal Capital of Nigeria.

The Master Plan of Abuja by IPA, completed in 1979 according to FCDA, is now undergoing review by Messrs. Albert Speers Partners in collaboration with four other Nigerian Town Planning Consultants, namely, Multi-system Consultant, Austin Aike & Partners Fola Konsult and Benna Associate.

ALTON claimed that the masterplan has no provision for modern technologies to drive telecommunications services in the FCT thereby causing poor quality of service and limiting operator’s ability to expand operations.

He further lamented that several efforts to get attention of relevant authorities in the FCT to make provision for such infrastructure has not yielded enough results.

Eng. Adebayo told the industry reporters, “The reality is that if we want good telecoms services, we have to leave with the environmental pains that come with it. It is very simple- you have a very nice looking building, but you need to receive good TV signals at home. So, you go to instal apparatus to capture digital signal. It’s a pain you have to leave with. In our case, I am not saying a painful infliction on the people. No, rather why we need good telecom services, there are supporting infrastructure that we need to tolerate. The reason being that, for example, problem of approval for cell sites. We were told, there are no areas designated for cell sites towers within Abuja central area. Now, Abuja is one of the most difficult cities to drive in and out at the peak times.

“The reason is it is the seat of Government, yet we don’t have approval to build cell sites. We have been in discussions with Abuja Authorities in the last four years on how to mitigate on this problem. They keep saying, ‘no approval’.

“The implication is that you are at the seat of Government yet it is difficult to make calls. Very simple. And they did say there are no designated areas for building cell sites, because it was not in the masterplan.

“The masterplan was developed about 40 years ago. When it was done, there was no mobile telecom services. We think it is time for somebody to look at that concept again and grant approvals to service providers so we can improve the quality of service.

“I make bold to say until we have the necessary infrastrastructure to deploy infrastructure in Abuja, we will continue to struggle with QoS in the FCT.

“It is high time somebody somewhere did something to allow us to build more cell sites in and around Abuja to have better coverage and improve on the quality of services. We are told it is because of aesthetics and revenue. But we think, the common good of the socioeconomic benefits of telecoms services to the economy should override other interests.

“So, the disruption of infrastructure on the environment is something we may need to compromise. Now what police do we require going forward. It is as basic as give us access to foreign exchange”.

He said that the Government needs to pay close attention to the telecoms industry to understand where to intervene and make amends for better service delivery to the populace.

“Those are policy issues. In the first instance, we don’t know how some industries are designated as priority and telecoms didn’t appear on the list. Government talk about Aviation, Agriculture, Manufacturing, while telecoms disappeared from the list. We know that telecoms is the infrastructure of infrastructures. So, what policy do we need for government to solve this problem? Give us access to foreign exchange!”

The ALTON Chairman also called for end to multiple taxation and regulations in the industry, which he said are slowing down investment in the sector.

“That is my cry: remove the issue of multiple taxation, multiple regulations, classify our infrastructure as national and economic infrastructure. Give us first layer of protection. Now, report has it people are complaining about the state of power supply to our homes. Many are buying inverters. Now, battery stolen from cell sites on Shagamu-Benin Express road, sold to the supplier in Benin, then, to the distributor in Agbor, then to an aggregator in Onitsha, then to Alaba market and finally to a Consumer in Kano.

“Therefore, we need to secure our infrastructure.These are the policy issues we are clamouring for, believing that when they are addressed by way of healthy modifications, it will help to move the industry forward.

“Whether we have not done enough engagement with stakeholders, you are our voice. Please, tell them about our predicaments. We are engaging government in all levels. Recently, we were in Ebonyi State, the other week, we were in Kaduna State, the upper week- Imo State. Yesterday, they were in Abuja; all to engage stakeholders.

“You might be surprised that after the meeting in Ebonyi, despite all the problems we had there, the report they gave to His Excellency was different from the realities. He came to the meeting to express surprise at what the Advisers told him. That’s why we need you to tell the right stories about the problems that we face”, Eng. Adebayo concluded. 

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Telecom

TCP: NCC Says Consumer Satisfaction, Robust Sector Top Priorities

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By Ugo Onwuaso

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is determined to carry out its regulatory functions to ensure that the companies operating in the industry were healthy.

Prof. Umar Danbatta, the executive vice chairman of the Commission, made the remark during the 81st edition of the Telecoms Consumer Parliament (TCP) held in Lagos.

He added that “it has taken steps to ensure that the telecommunications sector remains vibrant”.

Mr. Sunday Dare, the executive commission, Stakeholders Management, NCC, who represented the Executive Vice Chairman, said that “the commission would carry out its regulatory functions to ensure that the companies operating in the industry were healthy”.

The Chairman said that the regulatory body had made interventions to prevent disruptions in the consumer’s experience.

According to him, “NCC has commenced aggressive enforcement of the Code of Corporate Governance to ensure that licensees in the industry continue to operate as viable businesses.

“The consumer deserves all the credits for the past and indeed the future successes of this industry.

“The Nigerian telecommunications consumers are at the centre stage of our regulation.

“We at the NCC, being consumer centric regulatory organisation have decided to celebrate consumers of the Nigerian telecommunications industry consistent with the eight point agenda that I set out when I assumed office in 2015.

The number two and six items of the agenda are the core drivers of the NCC year of telecommunications consumer initiative.

“While the number two item of the agenda addresses improved quality of service.

And item six is concerned with protection and empowerment of the telecommunications consumers,” he said.

He also stated that all NCC’s initiatives such as SIM card registration, Mobile Number Portability, Broadband policy implementation, development of 2442 and 622 short codes as well as various consumer awareness campaigns were to ensure consumer satisfaction and protection.

Danbatta added that the commission would continue to look out for and protect the interest of the consumer without compromising the interests of other stakeholders in the industry.

Mr Abdullahi Maikano, director, Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) of NCC, said that over the years, TCP had proven to be an innovative way of bringing all stakeholders together to discuss and proffer solutions to industry issues.

Maikano said that the TCP had continued to occupy a pride of place in the commission’s activities.

He said that NCC would continue to provide significant resources to ensure that the parliament is held regularly for the benefit of consumers and the industry.

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Banks’ Working for Early Sale of 9Mobile — Fidelity Bank Boss

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Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, managing director of Fidelity Bank Plc, has said that all the banks whose money is trapped are working together for smooth sale of the telecoms on or before the end of the year.

This is as the 180 days’ window handed down to the receiver managers of 9Mobile draw nearer.

Explaining industry issues in a recent interactive session with select editors and publishers in Lagos, he said “As you are aware, the creditor banks came together to appoint a new Board and Management for the company, with the Deputy Governor of the CBN as chairman of the Board”.

“The company has good fundamentals with about 22 million subscribers, and it is also very strong in data. Our interest is to ensure the company remains a going concern so that it can attract interested buyers. The banks are working collectively on this,” Fidelity bank chief executive revealed.

It would recalled that at the heat of the $1.2bn syndicated loan default crisis which nearly grounded the former Etisalat, both the telecoms regulator and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), considered the volume of subscribers and intervened.

Part of the intervention was the appointment of Dr. Joseph Nnanna, former Deputy Governor of the CBN to head the chair the board and prepare it for potential investors between 90 to 180 days.

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Vodacom Urges Telcos to Adopt IoT for Increased ARPU

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L-R: Mr. Olusola Teniola, President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria; Mr. Lanre Kolade, Managing Director, Vodacom Business Nigeria; Dr. Fidelis Onah, Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Nigerian Communications Commission; and Mr. Chris Read, Conference Manager NigeriaCom 2017, at the just concluded NigeriaCom 2017 conference in Lagos

Lanre Kolade, Managing Director for Vodacom Business Nigeria, has urged telecommuncations operators in the country invest in Internet of Things services provision in order to increase their Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).

He stated this in a keynote speech at NigeriaCom 2017 organized by Informa Telecoms Group.

According to him ‘today, telecommunications operators are facing a period of flat growth for core services and significant decline in Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). This drastic change threatens the survival of the telecoms industry, as substantial declines in user spending on voice and text services have caused a decline in telcos revenue. IoT has delivered a big growth opportunity for the industry due to the volume of connections expected and experts have projected the market will reach $14.6 trillion global market size by 2020.’

“It is therefore essential to seize the vast opportunities that this growth presents in transforming businesses,” he said.

Across all industries, IoT solutions have been adopted to provide a host of different benefits, from increased Return on Investment (ROI) to developing stronger relationships with customers’, with far reaching benefits projected for the future.

Lanre Kolade in his presentation calls on telecom operators to adapt to the changing times and source other revenue streams to replace what is being lost in the continuing revolution of communications.

“The Internet of Things offers significant growth potential and the opportunity to take a role in new vertical markets, such as automotive, healthcare and smart cities. As these sectors seek to adopt more IoT services, the opportunities that exist are vast. Whether you are a hardware manufacturer or connectivity reseller, adding IoT solutions to your portfolio will open up new revenue streams from selling hardware, software and connectivity services, to a broad range of value-added services, such as consulting, integration and support.  Telcos will have to look at the Internet of Things as a potential revenue generator to offset the declining revenues from core services” he said.

By 2020, more than seven billion people and businesses, and over 30 billion devices, will be connected to the internet.

The question is no longer about the adoption of IoT but rather its application to drive business success.
Vodacom’s IoT solutions support wireless payment devices and e-readers, energy usage and smart metering, chilling cabinets, remote asset monitoring systems and community health management solutions.

Vodacom recently partnered with Kaduna State Government to launch a mobile technology-based healthcare program, SMS for Life 2.0, in the state which aims to increase the availability of essential medication by monitoring drug stock levels and improving the delivery of healthcare for citizens who access public health services.

Vodacom is the technology partner for the initiative, which is a public-private partnership with Novartis and the Kaduna State Ministry of Health.

Vodacom has concluded the training and deployment of SMS for Life 2.0 in Kaduna, with over 250 facilities using the platform to date. This initiative is planned to be implemented in all thirty six states.

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