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Operators Face ‘Perfect Storm’ of Commercial and Tech Challenges in 2014

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Eugene Juwah, EVC, NCC

Mobile operators are facing a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges in 2014 according to wireless experts Real Wireless.

The independent consultancy is warning that carriers have yet to grasp the scale of technological and commercial challenges that will start to hit in 2014, with many completely lacking a strategy to cope.

The analysis was taken from a landmark manifesto, launched yesterday, looking at every aspect of the wireless industry in 2014 and beyond, from 5G to small cells, spectrum, backhaul, M2M and more. These issues affect not just operators but regulators, vendors – and all of those that use wireless technology, from consumers to transport operators, stadium owners or enterprises.

With the wireless industry under unprecedented financial pressure and subscribers demanding ever more from their wireless service in terms of better coverage and more capacity, while technology complexity continues to accelerate, Real Wireless has found that 2014 will see a multitude of issues and challenges come to a head.

“We’ve taken a look at every aspect of the wireless industry, from spectrum to technology, the economics, the locations people are using wireless and the commercial opportunities. All included we’ve found that mobile operators are facing a perfect storm of challenges starting from this year. The next few years pose an unprecedented challenge, and few operators are preparing for it,” said Professor Simon Saunders, Director of Technology and co-founder of Real Wireless.

“While there’s never an easy time to be an operator, technology challenges are increasing in complexity at the same time as financial pressures bite. More CapEx is needed to support data traffic growth, improve coverage and build out 4G, but revenue & ARPU are under strain – indeed, in Europe the industry has moved ex-growth.”

Some of the challenges include: Small Cells. Sophisticated operators have developed plans for seizing the opportunities of small cells, and see them as an important source of competitive advantage.

Crucially, the technology enables them to re-engineer processes and human capital. They also involve partnering and outsourcing more operations, often to landline operators and MSOs. Other operators risk being commercially blind-sided.

5G is coming faster than many appreciate, with vendors demonstrating technology and standards activity progressing. However, as complex as spectrum has been for LTE, with UEs having multiple product SCUs to complicate roaming, it will be even harder for 5G.

There will be increasing tension between mobile operators, satellite operators, broadcast TV and other spectrum users. Few operators or regulators are prepared for these issues, which will come to the fore at WRC15.

Having 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G all running, all interacting and all needing spectrum will be a technical nightmare and financially insupportable – yet few carriers have planned for how to switch off any of their technologies – while growing use of M2M on 2G complicates this.

2G will be largely unaffected this year, but pressures to eventually phase it out will grow progressively. Meanwhile, other operators will make serious plans to phase out 3G in favour of 4G.
 
Wireless consumers and users are becoming more demanding. The remorseless growth in traffic poses its own challenges, but they are also increasingly unwilling to accept poor coverage. 

Enterprises, stadium owners, retailers are increasingly aware of this, and see good wireless service as business critical.

Some operators have developed strategies for how to serve this demand in a responsive and cost-efficient way. Others are in jeopardy of falling behind.

2014 will see change at both ends of the technology scale. It is difficult to phase-out 2G with concerns from rural users and the growing M2M market, but operators need to develop plans quickly. At the same time, Real Wireless warns that 5G is appearing on the horizon and operators need to plan for the next wave of generation upgrades, migrations, devices and service shifts.

Operators will also need to manage increasingly complex spectrum-sharing arrangements and roaming agreements.

“What will make 2014 different from any other year is that there are so many big challenges across such a wide range of areas all at the same time,” added Saunders.

“We’re anticipating further consolidation of both networks and operators as demanding consumers and new market entrants put pressure on an industry that is already seeing its growth slow.”  

The Real Wireless manifesto, ‘How wireless will – or should – evolve’, is available to download free of charge here. Bringing together the views of experts across the wireless industry, it highlights the challenges and opportunities for the sector over the next 12 months, with insights from the Real Wireless on how to best shape mobile and wireless strategies.

 

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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Telecom

NCC: US Delegation‎ Visits Commission, Lauds Regulatory Strides

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(L-R): Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC; Rachel Atwood Mendiola, Manager, U.S Embassy; Engr. Ubale Ahmed Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC; Mudari Aliyu Dura

 

Nigerian Communications Commission NCC, Thursday, received a delegation from the United States Embassy in Abuja,

The team, led by Rachel Atwood Mendiola, Fraud Prevention Manager, United States Embassy, was received by the Commission’s Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive, Prof. Umar Danbatta and other top Management staff of the Commission.

The delegation was at the Nigerian Communications Commission’s Head Office to gain insight into the workings of the Commission and to commend NCC’s Management for its regulatory strides in sustaining the growth of the telecommunication industry in Nigeria.

 

Prof.Danbatta while addressing the delegation, recalled to the admiration of his guests some of the Commission’s efforts in ensuring effective regulation of the telecoms sector and providing an enabling environment for telecoms services to flourish, exponentially attributing the Commission’s successes to the faith reposed on it by the consumers and their unflinching loyalty.

 

And that is, the reason the Commission commits itself irrevocably to protecting the interest of consumers and all stakeholders in the industry.

He told his guests that, “NCC continues to be a strategic member and active participant in the activities of many bodies including the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), African Telecommunications Union (ATU), and the West Africa Telecommunication Regulators Assembly (WATRA).”

To demonstrate the resilience of the telecommunication sector even in the face of challenging economic climate, Danbatta stayed that the sector contributed about 9.5% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product in the second quarter of 2017 and credited the Nigerian telecom consumers with the successes recorded because of their patronage.

The EVC/CEO of NCC said it is the faith the consumers have demonstrated in the sector that made the Management of the Commission to declare the 2017 as the Year of the Telecom Consumer to celebrate the primacy of the consumer and to rededicate itself to addressing the challenges of the consumer.

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NCC Ignores Telcos, Says No to OTT Regulation

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Prof Umar Garuba Danbatta, NCC’s executive vice chairman

Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC] has said it can’t regulate Over The Top Technology [OTT] for now, refusing the telecom operators’ call that the technology be regulated in the country.

 

OTT operators are firms like Facebook, WhatsApp, 2go, Instagram and others who ride on social media to reach their audience.

 

Prof Umar Garuba Danbatta, NCC’s executive vice chairman disclosed this Thursday when a delegation from the United States [US] embassy paid a working visit to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

 

‘’ The operators are saying we should do something about the OTT. That the OTT is riding on their infrastructure to make money and all other. But it will be very difficult to regulate OTT,” Prof Danbatta said.

 

According to him, though NCC understands the operators’ plight ‘’ the truth is that there is nothing we can do for now’’.

 

The NCC EVC, said he had interacted with head of telecom industry’s regulatory agencies in US and some other advanced economies and he was indirectly told that OTT couldn’t be regulated for now.

 

He also said NCC couldn’t regulate content in the social media as this falls within the jurisdiction of its sister regulatory agency, the National Broadcasting Commission [NBC].

 

He also told the US embassy delegation which was led by Rachael Atwood Mendiola to convince US investors to come and invest in Nigeria’s telecom industry as this is the best time to stake their money in the country.

 

‘’We want investors to come and invest in telecoms infrastructure across the country. I believe they will make their money in no time. Our investment environment is becoming friendlier, our security has improved greatly and the Federal Government had promised some number of incentives for would-be investors.

 

‘’ Plus we still have access gap. We still have about 200 locations across the country yet to have telecom services. This has cut off about 40million people, including people in my local government in Kano. So, investors can come in and take this opportunities.’’, he said.

 

But he said the NCC was working to see the access gaps blocked in the next two years.

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Nigeria to Increase Mobile Broadband Subscriptions to 50% by 2020

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NCC headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria

By peter oluka

Nigeria has disclosed plans to increasing the current coverage of the active mobile broadband subscription per 100 from 20.95 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020.

This was disclosed by Mr Bolaji Akinremi, minister plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN, while delivering Nigeria’s statement on ‘Information and Communications Technologies for Development’ at the UN General Assembly’s debate in New York.

Active mobile broadband subscription is the number of subscriptions to mobile cellular networks with access to data communications – like the Internet – at broadband downstream speeds of 256 kilobit per second.

Nigeria’s mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants increased from 1.0 inhabitant in 2012 to 11.7 inhabitants in 2016.

Akinremi said Nigeria recognised the direct impact of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) on the wellbeing of Nigerians.

“The Government of Nigeria recognises the reality that Information and Communications Technologies has direct impact on the nation’s ability to improve the economic wellbeing of its people.

“The Government of Nigeria is committed to facilitating universal availability and cost-effective access to communications infrastructure and promoting utilisation of ICT in all spheres of life.

“Nigeria is committed to achieving cutting-edge global ICT standards, encourage rapid ICT penetration among all socio-economic levels.

“The Government of Nigeria is also committed to increasing the current coverage of the active mobile broadband subscription per 100 from 20.95 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020.

“Nigeria is committed to promoting and encouraging local production of ICT hard and software so as to reduce import dependence and generate foreign exchange by exporting to the regional and continental markets”.

He said that involving developing countries in the ICT revolution would bridge the wide gap of access to information among people.

According to him, if the information gap keeps widening, the possibility of attaining sustainable development by 2030 is not certain.

“It is in this vein that Nigeria further calls on Member States to consider giving Information and Communications Technologies a pride of place in the education curriculum. By so doing, they will undoubted bridge the digital divide,” Akinremi added.

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