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NCC Presents N54.7m Research Grant to 9 Universities

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The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC yesterday presented research grants worth N54,755,846 to the winners of the 2016 and 2017 Research Proposals from nine universities for development of the telecommunication industry.

The nine successful research awardees (universities) include: Covenant University, Ota which received N9.3million for development of low-cost GSM system for rural areas; Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi received N5.9million for design and construction of customer identification system in telecom industry; Enugu State University of Science and Technology – N1.4million for development of a home-grown electrical power charger for cellphones from cooking heat; Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife -N12,3million for Design, fabrication, experimental characterization of plastic optical fiber cable and the exploitation of its potentials in Nigeria telecom industry and University of Port Harcourt – N5.3million for design and construction of 1 to 10GHz Anechoic chamber for 3G, 4G and 5G Antenna measurement.

Others are: Nigeria Air Force Institute of Tech. Zariawhich got N5million for design and construction of a power line communication modern for domestic LAN; ELizade University, Ondo – N5million for GSM-Based Smart Energy Meter and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria – N7million for Development of wearable e-band tracking system.

Presenting the awards, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta said the Commission instituted the Research and Proposals Grant project in recognition of the role of the academia in the development of the telecom sector.

The EVC explained that the scheme is focused on commercially viable prototypes of research and innovative use of telecoms to solve national problems. ‘‘The relevance of the academia in the growth, sustainability and continuity of the telecommunications industry in Nigeria cannot be emphasized. The academia provides the research results that govern growth, transformation and facilitate innovations in the industry.

‘‘The academia impacts knowledge to the growth, turning them into thinking and transformational citizens, with innovative ideas capable of revolutionalizing the industry and reshaping our world.

‘‘The presentation of this award is to underscore the critical role, expectations from, and the confidence we have in the academia, in working towards national reengineering and transformation.

We are aware that most of these projects are collaborative efforts with other academics in your universities.

‘‘NCC welcomes and demands collaboration in all you do. It is for this reason that we have insisted on the involvement of your graduate and undergraduate students in the research projects.’’

‘‘We have set out clear terms and conditions for the Grant.

We expect you to abide by all the terms of the award. You are not under any circumstance to showcase the work or the prototype to any bodies, organization at any exhibition until the Commission has received the final prototype and signed off on it.

‘‘We will always show concern for the quality, relevance and efficiency of the product we want to push into the industry On extension of the collaboration to the telecom operators,

Prof. Danbatta said: ‘‘we will advise the telecommunication companies to key into this important initiative of collaborating with the commission in the area of research and development.

We will leverage our influence asking them to equally put resources that will drive research and development in the telecommunications industry.’’

Earlier, the Chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee of the NCC for the Research Proposals from the academia, Prof. Junaidu Muazu said one of the major focuses of the research proposals is to consider the relevance of those proposals to telecom industry and how they leverage on the existing infrastructure of the telecom industry.

‘‘This is important because it is trying to bridge the gap between the academia and the industry to provide solutions to the problems facing the industry.’’

Responding on behalf of other award recipients, Prof. Sulaiman Sani of Ahmadu Bello University said that would be bounded by patriotism for the nation to be role models in the area of telecom innovation.

He also charged the NCC to encourage telecom operators in the country to join hands in collaborating with the academia to proffer more problem solutions for the telecom sector.

‘‘I want to suggest that the initiative be extended to the telecom companies in the country, saying that it would be worthy to see them collaborate with the academia in developing the sector through research and development.

‘‘It will not be out of place if telecom companies invest in research and development in relation to telecom industry,’’ he added.

Of the 9 award recipients, 3 were selected from 56 proposals received from the academia in 2016 and 6 from 96 proposals received in 2017 after stringent evaluations by the Inter-Agency committee set up by the NCC.

Under the project, tertiary institutions submit detailed and well thought out research proposals to the Commission on innovative use of telecoms to solve national problems.

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Nigeria, SA Drive Strong Growth in Africa’s Smartphone Shipments

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A total of 22.4 million smartphones were shipped in Africa during the second quarter of this year (Q2 2018), according to the latest insights from International Data Corporation (IDC).

The global technology research and consulting firm’s Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows that Africa’s smartphone shipments increased 9.8% quarter on quarter (QoQ) and 6.0% year on year (YoY) in Q2 2018.

The market’s buoyant performance was spurred by the growing popularity of low-end to mid-range devices. Transsion brands continued to lead the continent’s smartphone space in Q2 2018, accounting 35.4% of shipments. Samsung followed in second place with 23.2% share.

By contrast, the feature phone market was down 1.1% QoQ and 5.8% YoY in Q2 2018, but – with shipments totaling 31.4 million units – these devices still constitute a 58.3% share of Africa’s overall mobile phone market as they cater to the needs of the continent’s huge low-income population (mainly in rural areas) by providing basic mobile communications that are priced very competitively.

Telco and Itel continued to lead feature phone category in Q2 2018 with a combined unit share of 59.9%, followed in third place by HMD on 9.0%.

Looking at the overall picture, the region’s combined mobile phone market totaled 53.8 million units in Q2 2018, with shipments up 3.2% QoQ but down 1.2% YoY.

The continent’s two biggest markets – Nigeria and South Africa – saw a marked improvement in the performance of their overall mobile phone markets, posting YoY growth of 13.0% and 25.0%, respectively.

“The Nigerian economy remains stable and has begun to show signs of steady improvement in terms of consumer demand for mobile phones.

“The country saw smartphone shipments of 2.7 million units in Q2 2018, up 15.8% YoY, with strong marketing support from telecom operators for most brands proving instrumental. However, ongoing currency issues and falling consumer purchasing power suggest Nigeria is not set for a sustained surge in smartphone shipments,” says Arnold Ponela, a research analyst at IDC.

South Africa remains the continent’s most developed telecommunications market, with smartphone shipments up 17.4% YoY in Q2 2018 to total 3.4 million units.

“Numerous new entrants to the South African market are now offering affordable smartphones that boast very similar features to the leading brands.

“As such, we expect the country’s migration away from feature phones to continue at a progressive pace.

This transition from feature phones to smartphones is reflected by the fact that the market continues to be dominated by low-end to mid-range devices priced below $150,” says Ponela.

IDC’s research shows that 4G LTE networks are spreading their reach in Africa, with shipments of 4G LTE devices increasing 11.8% QoQ in Q2 2018 to constitute 62.6% of the smartphone market.

“Despite a drop in the prices of entry-level 4G phones, 2G and 3G mobile devices remain far more economical, making it difficult for operators to migrate clients over to newer technologies.

“Price sensitivity means that many African consumers prefer to stick with 3G phones, and this is likely to continue until 4G devices fall to a price point where they are affordable to a much larger segment of the continent’s consumer base,” says Ramazan Yavuz, a research manager at IDC.

Looking ahead, IDC expects Africa’s overall mobile phone market to grow 2.6% QoQ in Q3 2018, with overall shipments to increase slightly through 2018, leading to YoY growth of 0.4% for the year as a whole.

“IDC predicts that 5G phones will reach the market in 2020, when rollouts of 5G networks will start in select African countries,” says Yavuz. “However, demand for feature phones is unlikely to be impacted significantly as these devices will continue to serve a purpose in areas with no LTE coverage.”

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9mobile Excites Customers with New MiFi Offer

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In keeping with its affirmed commitment to continuously delight customers with innovative solutions that give them more value at no extra cost, telecommunications company, 9mobile has introduced a new MiFi offer to the market offering customers a whooping 30GB free data plus bonus data for 1 year.

With the launch of the new MiFi offer, 9mobile also reinforces its commitment to consistently provide faster and more affordable data services that enable existing and new customers to do more for less.

VP Marketing, 9mobile, Adebisi Idowu, said 9mobile subscribers who purchase data devices in any of its experience centres are assured of high quality internet services, stating this is a promise the telco will always deliver on. “We are passionate about our customers; this is why we offer them true value for their money on 9mobile data plans, to deliver exceptional browsing experience online”, he said.

Idowu revealed that customers are assured of a 15GB sign up free data bonus instantly upon purchase of the new LTE/3G MiFi device. The customers also get another 15GB free data bonus if they purchase 7.1GB or higher data plans in the second month after service activation.

From the 3rd month, these customers get up to 100% bonus data for one year whenever they purchase 7.1GB or higher data plans on the 9mobile network.

Existing 9mobile MiFi device customers who purchase 7.1GB or higher data plans will also enjoy up to 100% bonus data for one year

Idowu added: “As a customer-centric network, we are very audacious in providing value-adding services to our subscribers. We also provide platforms that ensure positive customer experience both at the point of sale and even after sale. This is why we go the extra mile to reward our customers with amazing bonuses.

In addition, we have ensured that 9mobile MiFi devices are built with durable materials.”

The 9mobile MiFi device can provide internet services for up to 10 devices and is portable, making it easy to be carried around anywhere one goes.The device can be purchased from 9mobile experience centers nationwide, 9mobile official website, as well as from the online store -https://eshop.9mobile.com.ng/

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TE SubCom Chosen to Extend MainOne Cable System to Francophone Region

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TE SubCom, a TE Connectivity Ltd. company and an industry pioneer in undersea communications technology, today announced that it has secured a contract from leading connectivity and data center solutions provider, MainOne , to extend its active submarine cable system into West Africa’s francophone region with two additional branches connecting Senegal (Dakar) and Cote D’Ivoire (Abidjan).

These new branches will connect to MainOne’s 7,000km cable system, which extends from Portugal to Nigeria, and will inject new technology that upgrades the system to a potential capacity of 10TBps by November 2019 when the subsea system becomes operational.

With this development, MainOne will have landing points in five markets – Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire and Portugal, in addition to Cameroon. A cluster of francophone countries in West Africa that are experiencing an increased demand for advanced telecom services including Burkina Faso, Mali, and Mauritania will also benefit from these extensions into Cote D’Ivoire and Senegal.

“MainOne continues to lead the current digital transformation of the region by ushering in affordable connectivity to drive economic development. Our objective remains focused on bridging the digital divide between West Africa and the rest of the world.

“We have, and will continue to, invest significantly in projects to accelerate broadband access to help local businesses address the challenges they face procuring capacity at competitive rates.

“This extension of our subsea cable to Senegal and Cote D’Ivoire will further open up their international bandwidth markets, drive down costs and ultimately boost the economic and commercial development of the region,” said Kazeem Oladepo, MainOne’s regional executive for West Africa.

“These MainOne enhancements bring two additional connectivity options to this rapidly growing region,” said Debbie Brask, vice president, project management of TE SubCom. “MainOne has also selected SubCom’s industry leading WSS ROADM technology to achieve dynamic capacity management in fulfilling the region’s burgeoning demand.”

The new branches will be equipped with TE SubCom’s WSS ROADM technology that allows MainOne and its partners to match the capacity in each branch to the market need, thus optimizing cable utilization. SubCom will light the new branches with Ciena’s transmission equipment, which enables this flexibility and higher capacity. It is also an industry first for the deployment of undersea spectrum-sharing in Africa.

The MainOne Submarine Cable System links West Africa with Europe, bringing ultra-fast broadband in the region. It runs from Seixal in Portugal to Lagos in Nigeria. The system first went live in July 2010, becoming the first privately-owned subsea cable to bring open-access broadband capacity in West Africa.

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