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ALTON Urges NCC, Others To Revisit Suspended Data Floor Price

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Telecommunications operators have urged Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to as a matter of urgency revisit the suspended data floor price in order to save them from distress.

Data Floor Plan Price is a partial price control measure, which is the lower limit price to check unhealthy but foster healthy competition among players.

The price floor is a means of controlling anti-competitive behaviors by operators considered to have attained the dominant status in the industry.

Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) stated this at breakfast meeting organized by the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters’ Association (NITRA), in Lagos, at the weekend

He explained that floor price is a partial price control measure, which is the lower limit price to check unhealthy but foster healthy competition among players.

“The price floor is a means of controlling anti-competitive behaviors by operators considered to have attained the dominant status in the industry. Earlier, there was a limit to how low ISPs could charge for data services, the regulator in October 2015, approved the removal of data floor price, giving internet service providers opportunity to drop their data prices as low as they can in order to survive.” 

He added: “before then, NCC had set the data floor price limit as a way of ensuring smaller ISPs and ‘upcoming’ telcos had the chance to compete with the bigger, already established ones.  The ISPs could compete for customers with low prices. This has now come to hurt the industry very badly, as the smaller operators are finding difficult in a recessed economy to survive due to the ‘heavy weight of the bigger players who are able to cross-subsidize the array of services they offer.”

According to him, ‘statistics available has shown that bigger players lost some market share when the floor price was set and smaller operators got some space in the market place.

The Internet service providers have been badly hurt by none determination of a floor price as they are left to compete at prices below their costs.’

He noted that demand for data have increased in recent times following a rapid growth of mobile phone subscribers in the country as there has been an influx of smartphones and other data consuming gadgets into the Nigerian market in recent years.

“The social media Over the Top (OTT) like the Facebook, Whatapp, Instagram, etc have taken over the voice revenues. The activities of the social media operators have greatly eroded the revenue of the legacy operators. The industry is going through a lot of challenges; it is now inevitable for the NCC to review the Data Floor Price that was suspended.  This is necessary to save the industry. Mobile data revenue is growing while the growth of mobile voice revenue is declining.”

“More subscribers are dropping the voice call to embrace the OTT operations which are offered free of charge on data services.  Since the OTT operators do not have any regulatory obligations, no taxes and no operational levy, there is the need to revisit the suspended Data Floor Price in order to save the telecom industry.”

Adebayo also decried the challenge operators are facing in purchasing foreign exchange to fulfil their contractual obligations to equipment suppliers and foreign vendors. 

“This situation is adversely impacting our network operations and also some recent developments in the industry have alluded very clearly to the risks at hand. The prevailing scarcity of FX has occasioned a situation where the Banks are unable to obtain FX for an upward period of six months.”

 

 
 

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Shittu Commends NCC on Impeccable Use of social Media

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The Nigeria Communications Commission,NCC, has been recently commended by the Minister of Communications, Honourable Adebayo Shittu, for impeccably deploying social media networks for public communication and urged all stakeholders to emulate the Commission to expand the frontiers of public sector communication, good governance and national development.

Shittu’s voice was amplified by Abdulaziz Mashi, the Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Communications at the 2-Day Seminar on “Social Media for Good Governance Seminar: Leveraging ICT for National Development”, held at Treasure Suites and Conference Centre in Abuja.

The Seminar Organized by the Federal Ministry of Communications was supported by Facebook, Google and Microsoft, as well as by all the agencies supervised by the Ministry – NCC, NITDA, NIPOST, NIGCOMSAT, and Galaxy Backbone Plc.

Shittu said “in an era when the social media have become very strong platforms for information dissemination and public discourse, it is imperative for government and key players in the private sector to pay extra attention to feedback from, and utilize these new media to provide platform for government-citizen and business-public engagement in an online, real-time and interactive manner”.

He added that the seminar and retreat was designed among other goals, to share knowledge and information oriented in recent research and analysis of social media use; and to review good practices on policies and programmes promoting social media for good governance and other effective uses of the communication networks.

The Minister noted those uses to include creating means to improve governance, opening up access to government and government officials, saving time and money, and creating new ways of working.

Accordingly, “government will not limit Nigerians’ access to social media solely on the basis that it may be used to express views critical of government or the social-political system.

“Protecting critical expressions on the Internet is the standard by which governments are now held to be genuinely democratic” Shittu told the large gathering of delegates from all the agencies in the Ministry, journalists and other communication professionals and a galaxy of other stakeholders.

The Minister however bemoaned the use of the social media networks for “divisive, tribal, parochial, fabricated and sentimental information, messages and ideas capable of disintegrating the country”.

Shittu urged Nigerians to draw inspiration from enterprising young Nigerians across industries who have used social media to achieve phenomenal strides that have shaped our lives qualitatively.

Tony Ojobo, NCC Director Public Affairs, who presented the lead paper on Public Communication in the Era of New Media, and drawing on NCC’s and other exemplary practices, demonstrated in a concrete sense how social media can be deployed for greater effectiveness in public sector communication in Nigeria.
There were other presentations by Ade Atobatele, Akeem Adeniji-Adele, and Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, which focused respectively on The Magic of Words; Digital Transformation; and Social Media as a Tool Against Weaponization: Hate Speech, Fake News, were also enthusiastically received and discussed by the audience.

The Ministry of Communications plans to organize series of seminars and a Social Media Week for communication professionals in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government in 2018.

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Group Decries Nigeria’s Poor Ranking on ICT Development Index

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By peter oluka

Broadband 2018 Coalition has expressed deep concerns over Nigeria’s poor ranking on the latest Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Development Index (IDI) published in the annual “Measuring the Information Society Report (MISR)” by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) where the country was rated 143rd globally, a significant downward shift from its 137th position in 2016. On the African index, Nigeria placed 15th behind countries like Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, Gabon, Ghana, Zimbabwe and even Cote d’Ivoire.

The ICT Development Index is a composite measure that combines 11 indicators into one benchmark index to monitor and compare ICT developments between 176 countries across the world. The three-dimension frameworks used to measure the IDI are Access (level of ICT readiness which includes five infrastructure and access indicators: fixed-telephone subscriptions, mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions, international Internet bandwidth per Internet user, households with a computer, and households with Internet access);

Others are, Use (level of ICT intensity which includes three intensity and usage indicators: individuals using the Internet, fixed broadband subscriptions, and mobile-broadband subscriptions) and Skills (Capabilities or skills which are important for ICTs and include three proxy indicators: mean years of schooling, gross secondary enrolment, and gross tertiary enrolment).

Expressing his shock at the development, Danjuma Yusuf, the coalition convener and technology expert, pointed that Nigeria’s technology landscape needs urgent intervention given its sharp stagnation and decline in recent years and tasked the Federal and State Governments and other relevant regulatory agencies to quickly focus on strategies that would increase the country’s global competitiveness in ICT.

According to Yusuf, Nigeria has become an object of ridicule on global ICT rankings, been bested by countries with much lower Gross Domestic Product.

He mentioned that with direct connections to 5 submarine cables ($7bn of Africa’s $20bn submarine cable investments), Nigeria has no excuse for not leading the African index ahead of South Africa (with 4 submarine cables), Zimbabwe and Gabon with 2 cables each, and urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in Nigeria’s ICT sector.

Yusuf cited as example, Kenya, which also launched its Broadband Policy in 2013 but is currently leading Africa in internet penetration with over 30 million people having (67%) internet access according to the Jumia Business Intelligence and GSMA ‘White Paper 2017: Trends from the Kenyan Smartphone and eCommerce Industry’.

He stressed that proactive regulation and a government-funded National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) project rolled out hundreds of thousands kilometers of fiber optic cables across Kenya’s 47 counties.

According to him, Kenya’s leadership initiatives have ensured the country remains one of Africa’s leading recipients of foreign direct investment and the fastest advancing country in ICT on the continent.

Mr. Yusuf urged speedy implementation of the five-year Broadband Plan stating broadband has played an outsized role in transforming societies and economic opportunities across the world, facilitating education and knowledge dissemination, enabling trade and commerce and contributing to growing entrepreneurship across the world.

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NCC, CBN Query Barclays’ Transparency in Sale of 9mobile

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The handling of the sale process of 9mobile by Barclays Africa, the financial advisers, has come attack from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), according to the Cable.

 

Barclays Bank has been saddled with the responsibility of finding investors for 9mobile based on the decision of Nigerian lenders.

 

In a joint letter to GTBank, which is the facility agent for the 9mobile syndicated loan, Umar Danbatta, the executive vice-chairman of NCC, and Godwin Emefiele, the governor of CBN, expressed displeasure with the “unwillingness of Barclays Africa” to follow due process in the bid.

 

In the letter, dated November 4, 2017, the two regulators said they made it clear from the outset that the sale process must be “transparent and fair, with the financial and technical capabilities of the final bidders without question”.

 

They said they now have “serious concerns” since the appointment of Barclays Africa as financial advisers.

 

“They have repeatedly exhibited signs of opacity in the sale process for 9mobile. Given the overriding public interest in the company and the need for transparency, we advised that Barclays advertise the call for ‘expression of interest’. Barclays declined, insisting instead that the company being a private one, should not be taken through a public sale,” they wrote.

 

“This lack of a transparent process has proven to be selective and arbitrary, leading to allegations that the process is being teleguided to a rigged and predetermined outcome. The CBN and the NCC will not fold their arms and allow this to materialise.”

 

Danbatta and Emefiele said they had received reports and petitions from various stakeholders, including some bidders, which have further heightened their concerns — but their suggestions to the board of 9mobile and Barclays on how to restore credibility to the process have been ignored.

The CBN and NCC then directed that all steps and decisions taken by the financial advisers as well as other advisers from the end of “expression of interest” must be communicated to CBN and NCC, who will have to approve in writing.

They also directed that the final bid process must be “open and transparent” in line with international best practices.

 

Danbatta and Emefiele said the December 31, 2017 deadline for the handover of 9mobile to the preferred bidders “remains sacrosanct”.

 

On Monday THISDAY reported that 1o firms have moved to the financial stage of the bid process.

 

The companies listed are: Globacom Nigeria Limited, Bharti Airtel, Alheri Engineering Limited, Smile Telecoms Holdings, Helios Towers, Centricus Capital, Africell, Abraaj Capital, Teleology Holdings Limited, Ericsson, Africa Capital Alliance (ACA) and The Carlyle Group.

 

The company formerly knows as Etisalat Nigeria changed its brand name to 9Mobile in July after the Mubadala Group, the major investor from the United Arab Emirates, pulled out of Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile operator following a N541 billion debt.

 

The debt is owed to a consortium of 10 banks, with GTBank acting as the facility agent.

 

The sale of 9mobile, with 21 million subscribers, is expected to bring in the needed capital to restore it to good health.

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