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Operators Face Hurdle in Network Expansion Plans



David Venn, chief executive officer, Spectranet, a 4G LTE internet service provider, has said that network congestion being experience by telecommunications subscribers will persist as operators are finding it difficult to carry out expansion of their network.


He told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that operators are faced with a serious challenge of convincing shareholders to bring money to expand their network to offer subscribers quality service for both voice and data because of uncertainty in returns on investment.


“There won’t be improvement in the network quality service for now as operators could not convince their shareholders to invest in network capacity because there is no strong business case for such investment with the present data price.


“The present data floor in the industry encourages more people to use data service which is response for network congestion and revenue from the service does not encourage shareholders to bring money to expand capacity. Something has to change if we are to deliver quality service and what has to change is for Nigerian Communications Commission to revisit data floor,” he said.


Venn explained that the telecommunications landscape in the country is now changing from a voice centric to data centric source of revenue just as WhatsApp has almost eroded revenue that GSM operators are making from short message service (SMS).


“Operators need equipment to build towers. In the last one year it has been difficult for us to access dollar to import equipment for network expansion as well as adding capacity, the ones we are doing is from the equipment we imported before the new policy on FX, for big operators it has been very difficult for them to import equipment which has affected their efforts in adding capacity,” he said.


Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), called on NCC to revisit the data floor price determination in order to save and encourage small operators in the sector.


“Data floor price determination is meant for small operators not for big operators who will still survive with the present situation. We are trying to avoid a situation where CDMA operators died because of price war. If data price is determined, it will encourage small operators in the sector. We need to look at it beyond public sentiment and emotions around it and revisit the issue for the growth of the industry,” he said.


Olusola Teniola, president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) added that the industry regulator needs to revisit the data price floor to determine the appropriate data pricing to ensure that investors have certainty in government policies in order for them to bring capital that will be used for infrastructure deployment required for broadband.


“This is important in view of 30 percent broadband target by end of 2018 which we have just over one year to achieve.  It is important that the industry sees government policies as one that creates an enabling environment for businesses to thrive so that investors can bring funds to invest for the development of the sector.”


Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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NCC Moves to Regulate Use of Satellite Communications Services



Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said the commission would create a legal framework to regulate the use of satellite communications services and networks.

NCC Danbatta represented by Mr Austin Nwulune, the Director, Spectrum Administration Department, NCC said this at the Public Inquiry on the Commercial Satellite Communication Guideline and the Draft Consumer Code of Practice Regulations (as Amended).

According to him, the draft commercial satellite communications guidelines are aimed at creating a legal framework to regulate the provision and use of satellite communication services and networks.

“In whole or in part within Nigeria or on a ship or aircraft registered in the country.

“The intention behind the development of the guidelines is to ensure a well-developed and organised satellite communications market in Nigeria. “With appropriate legal framework that meets international best practices, encourage innovation and guarantee public safety, ‘’ he said.

Danbatta said the guidelines would ensure effective management of scarce frequency resources, especially bands where frequency is shared between satellite and terrestrial systems.

He said the guidelines would also encourage use of satellite connectivity to unserved areas that lack terrestrial transmission infrastructure backbone.

The NCC boss said on the draft Consumer Code of Practice Regulations was an amendment on the previous regulations made in 2007.

He said the guidelines would provide a more robust framework, effective and efficient processes /procedures to be followed by licensees in developing their individual consumer code to govern the provision of services and other related consumer practices.

“This to ensure that consumers are adequately informed of the type of services being offered by operators, thereby aligning with the commission’s function of protecting the interests of consumers  against unfair practices.

“Furthermore, these regulations have been amended to reflect best practice in the industry,’’ he said.

Danbatta said the public inquiry forum was part of the commission’s rule-making process  aimed at ensuring wide consultation in the development of regulatory instruments in accordance with NCC Act, 2003.

He said over the years, the process had proven invaluable in sourcing the opinions and inputs of stakeholders toward the development of sound regulatory frameworks for the Nigerian telecommunication industry.

Mrs Yetunde Akinloye, the Director, Legal and Regulatory Services, NCC while speaking on the overview of the amended Consumer Code of Practice Regulations said all codes must be submitted to the commission for approval.

Akinloye said approval should be granted within 30 days of submission of a code, unless the commission informs the licensee to amend the submitted code.

She said an approved code shall be published in two national newspapers within 30 days of approval.

“` Licensees are required to provide a copy of the approved code to consumers on request,’’ she said.

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Verve Partners with UBA, Provides Cost Effective Prepaid Cards Support to Zambian Government



Verve International has signed a partnership agreement with United Bank for Africa (UBA) to deliver cost effective prepaid cards to farmers under the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture’s FISP program.


According to the partnership deal, UBA will issue Verve Prepaid cards in the next season of the Farmers Input Support Program (FISP), an agricultural subsidy initiative of the government to help farmers purchase agricultural inputs like fertilizer, seed and chemical at subsidized costs.


Through the program, the government intends to boost food production in the country by funding the cards issued to each farmer with $170 while the farmers contribute $40 towards purchase of farm inputs.

While many farmers in the country have benefited from the program since it started in 2015, the government plans to extend it even further with more than one million farmers expected to receive over two hundred and ninety million dollars ($290M) in funding during the 2017/18 season.


In order to help the Government, combat the challenges of high cost of card issuance and transaction as well as the issue of accountability and transparency which have plagued the scheme for long, Verve has been contracted to provide its superior technology and affordable cards solution through Commercial Banks andother Financial Institutions in Zambia.


Mike Ogbalu III, CEO, Verve International, Sharing his thoughts on the landmark partnership, said, “Partnering with UBA on the FISP program is a huge milestone for us.


“We are really excited to work with Smart Zambia, UBA and other banks, farmers, agro-dealers and other stakeholders to ensure that the subsidy programme runs efficiently and achieves its objective of boosting food production in Zambia. 


“Food security is very crucial for every nation, as such, deploying Verve’s cost-effective prepaid card solution will help farmers in Zambia access the FISP subsidy quickly, conveniently and without hassle, thereby significantly improving agricultural activities and boosting food production in the country.”


The Company said that the introduction of Verve cards is expected to reduce card issuance costs by 30%-50% while also saving significantly in transactional fees.


With its improved security feature Verve will effectively solve the FISP transparency and accountability issues.


The government will also be able to access all the information it needs to ensure a smooth and seamless operation of the scheme and also eliminate leakages.


Besides saving cost and ensuring greater transparency, Verve’s involvement in the FISP program also means more farmers can benefit from the subsidies, as costs would be greatly reduced, thereby leading to a significant boost in food production in the South African country.


Through this partnership, Zambia joins a growing list of African countries where Verve’s EMV compliant cards is used and accepted.

This also clearly reinforces the payment brand’s market positioning as the preferred Pan‐African card in domestic and cross border transactions in and outside the continent.


Verve has over 35 Million Cards and tokens issued across 8 African countries and growing.


In addition to regional acceptance across Africa, Verve cards can also be used outside Africa as it is accepted in over 185 countries across the globe.



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NCC Warns Telcos against Fraudulent Services



Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has again warned Network Operators in the country against fraudulent and dubious services aimed at cheating telecom consumers.


Abdullahi Maikano, director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, gave the warning at the 92nd edition of the Consumer Outreach Programme held in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State for stakeholders.


Maikano who was represented by Alhaji Ismail Adedigba insisted that NCC is determined to protect the telecom consumers in ensuring that they get good quality of service, value for money spent, timely and fair redress of complaints and protection from unwholesome practices of some Service Providers.


The NCC, he stressed would continue to ensure “the protection of telecom consumers from market exploitation and empowering them to make rational and informed decision when making choices of services”.


The Consumer Outreach Programme, he said was identified as one of the most cost effective mechanism that provided and guaranteed consumer protection.


“Besides serving as a pro-active way of protecting consumers from making wrong choices, it also serves as a preventive measure that protect consumers from being exploited and against fraud,” he said.


In addition, he said the forum also served as a feedback mechanism for the commission in making regulatory intervention for the benefit of the consumers, service providers as well as the industry.


The Director of the NCC urged the stakeholders to take advantage of the forum to be well informed so that no one takes undue advantage of them.


Also speaking, Alhaji Ismail Adedigba, deputy director Consumer Affairs Bureau, said the programme was to enable tripartite meeting between regulators, operators and consumers to resolve pressing consumer’s issues as it relates to provision of telecom services.


According to him, in 2017 declared by the NCC as a Year of Telecom Consumer, the Commission stepped programmes aimed at empowering and protecting Telecom Consumers with focus of awareness of toll free line to loge complaints etc.


In a lecture title “Information and Education as a Catalyst for Consumer Protection”, Network Providers were reminded that telecom consumers were the market, and protection of the consumers’ amount to market protection

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