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Rural Telephony, Internet Connectivity Now Critical in Nigeria- Smith

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Leigh Smith is the managing director of World Telecoms Lab (WTL)

Leigh Smith is the managing director of World Telecoms Lab (WTL). Smith, an Australian with Economics degree has been based in Belgium for over 30 years and has held international positions. These positions have enabled him to gain extensive experience in Europe, the Middle East, the US and Japan.  The business areas that Smith has worked are Office Equipment and Telecommications.  The last and current role that he is engaged on is to successfully grow the WTL business in Africa and in particular by having the main WTL business focus now being placed on Nigeria. In this interview with peter ugwu, he spoke on the Company’s role in repositioning the country telecoms sector, while discussing other national telecoms related issues.

World Telecoms Labs (WTL)
WTL is a Belgian based company which has long been a leader in the provision of VoIP switches, pre-paid applications and signalling gateways for emerging carriers and telecom service operators. WTL has an installed base of 100,000’s of voice ports with service providers worldwide switching billions of minutes of VoIP traffic using WTL equipment.

Nigeria’s Telecom Industry Overtime
Under the control and guidance of the NCC the 4 key operators are offering voice, SMS and internet services to a large proportion of Africa’s 180 million inhabitants. This has been a massive achievement but is there still significant QOS improvements to be achieved and estimated 40 million rural dwellers still to be connected. So there is, still major infrastructure investments to be made to get the quality of all the services being offered up to a more acceptable level.

Critical Areas to Address
Specifically, WTL helps in solving key challenges with telecoms networks and businesses, so that they can deliver better, more profitable services, more efficiently and faster. Over the years, in Nigeria we have observed key challenges that need to be addressed. Today the old style TDM switching accounts for over 95% of all the switched Nigerian voice traffic where as in Europe the evolution the VoIP takeover of the TDM traffic is virtually been completed. So Nigeria still has to go through the same evolution. As WTL was one of the VoIP pioneers we are very well equipped to help accelerate the change over from TDM switching into VoIP and the WTL customers are now playing an important role in building up the confidence amongst the key operators that VoIP will allow them to manage traffic more efficiently and at a lower cost.

WTL & ICN’s 2nd Generation VoIP Switches for Voice Traffic Transfer
As was mentioned in the last point, Nigeria is still in the early stages of the transition it using IP and it is not yet evident to the consumers at this point in time. However the process needs to start and the faster the evolution comes the sooner the QOS improvements will start to be seen by the consumers.

Reducing Traffic on Congested Inter-city Links
WTL has a tried and very well tested VoIP protocol which allows the operators to send high capacity traffic over inter-city or intra-city links which requires only one tenth of the bandwidth required to carry each call compared to the transmitting the call with TDM. This is therefore one of the means which available to free up band width on congested networks but it will require the existing operators to invest and install the necessary WTL equipment to optimize the bandwidth available on the existing inter-city links.

Assessment of Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
The consumers are experiencing quality issues with all four (4) of the key operators so the consumers have not been to motivated to change from one operators just to be with another operator who has similar problems so the use of MNP has been quite limited. If one of the operators finds a way to address the QOS issues in a much more efficient way than the others then it would seem most likely that the requests for MNP could go up significantly as consumers mover offer the operator who has developed the higher quality image.

Messaging and SMS Routing Hub & Unsolicited Messages
Yes there are ways to cut the number of unsolicited messages but as the big 4 operators are all sending out daily unwanted messages to their respective client basses then I can see anything changing until they themselves start the process to cut back these messages

ISPs Benefit from WTL’s Value Added Service Product
The ISP’s already have a customer base which they are handling the internet traffic so they can look at ways to offer additional voice and value added services to their existing customers to try to generate more revenue.

Trending Data Vs Telecoms Losing Revenue on Voice Services
I think I disagree with this question as last year the estimated total revenue of the Nigerian operators was $10.0 billion and of this total $ 7.5 billion of the revenue was related to the voice traffic. It is true that the growth of data is going faster but voice is still very much the king when it comes to revenue generation and the voice traffic volume is still growing. The operators need to look at how to reduce the costs associated with carrying all the voice traffic and using WTL’s TDM to VoIP platforms is one way to achieving this.

WTL’s Technology Agenda for New Government in Nigeria
The absolutely need to give basic telephony and internet connectivity to the rural areas which the government has been talking about since I first came to Nigeria 5 years ago and very little has been done. The National Broadband Plan is very commendable but the rural areas could start to benefit from initial and basic connectivity now instead of waiting another 3 – 5 years for more expensive broadband connectivity.

Bandwidth Efficiency: WTL’s Role
As I have already explained WTL has a VoIP optimizing protocol which enables voice traffic to be transmitted using only 6Kbps (kilobytes) per call compared to 26 Kbps per call for standard VoIP calls and 64 Kbps using TDM.

Comparing Broadband in Nigeria to Other Markets
There are many different markets with a whole range of differently priced services so I find this difficult to comment on. The prices still have to reflect to very significant infrastructure investment made by the 4 key operators and the leading data infrastructure company Main One. So if the prices are on the higher side then this is due to the sizeable investment that has and is still being made.

What Should The Market Expect from WTL?
WTL will continue to strive to provide the most reliable, high performance VoIP solutions throughout the period of the market change from TDM over VoIP and we want to continue to build on our growing reputation as one of best support and maintenance organisations in the industry.

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 CSO Sends FoI Request To NCC

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Following the alleged plans to block online news sites, the Paradigm Initiative has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Nigerian Communications Commission asking the Commission to provide it with information on the matter.

The request was filed by the digital rights advocacy organisation on Friday at the Abuja headquarters of the Commission, giving the Commission seven (7) days as stipulated by the Freedom Of Information (FOI) Act 2011, to release information on the alleged attempts to block domain names of online newspapers.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian Tribune exclusively reported on Sunday, October 5 2017 “that the government, through the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), has engaged the services of a firm in Lagos to block the domain names of “several identified websites threatening national security.”

The newspaper further alleged that Commission wrote a memo to the firm, directing it “to immediately take steps to restrict access within the Nigerian cyberspace in respect of 21 (twenty one) additional websites by blocking the domain names. (The list of websites is attached).”

According to Adeboye Adegoke, Paradigm Initiative’s Program Manager, “the phrase “additional websites” in the memo indicates that there are other websites already marked for illegal censorship through an equally illegal blockage of their domain names. If this is true, then this would be a clear indication of this government’s anti-free speech agenda”

“It has been six days since Tribune published its story and NCC has not come out to deny the story. This is why we have filed this FoI request. NCC cannot wish this report away; the commission has to come out and address Nigerians on the issue”

In the FoI request, Paradigm Initiative asks NCC to provide it with answers to the following questions: Is the Nigeria Communications Commission or at of its agents in the process of taking steps or block or restrict the domain names of certain websites? If yes, what websites would be affected? What criteria were employed in selecting these websites? Under what legal provision is this being carried out?

According to Tope Ogundipe, Paradigm Initiative’s Director of Programs, “it goes without saying that blocking the domain names of newspapers is a brazen violation of the right to Freedom of Expression as guaranteed not only by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but also by international instruments to which Nigeria is a signatory.”

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Web4Africa Celebrating 15 Years of Operations In Africa

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By peter oluka

Web4Africa, the Pan African Web Hosting Company, has reached a milestone this October, celebrating 15 crystal years of business.

The company, offering web services physically from Nigeria, has grown from the dreams of the founders, serving 40,000+ clients across over 120 countries.

Today, the giant strides of Web4Africa is felt across the region with the peculiar nature of customer-centric services to hundreds of domain types as well as hosting solutions from four datacentres across Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.

Established in 2002, Web4Africa is one out of the only two ICANN Accredited Domain Name Registrars in Nigeria and boasts of young- professional team (average age of 28) who are skilled and motivated deliver a happy experience to the clients.

“It gives me great pleasure in joining Web4Africa employees, clients and host of business partners South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana; in fact, across the Continent, in celebrating the company’s 15th anniversary. We have come a long way since commencing operations in 2002 and are very excited about our future as the company continues to thrive in these difficult economic times,” said Oluniyi Ajao, the President and CEO, when discussing the celebration.

Web4Africa’s ability to engineer solutions based on customer’s specific needs has helped the company to continually grow over the past 15 years. For instance, the Company is among the few that accepts Bitcoin, Perfect Money, Skrill, Payza, and more for Domain Registration, Web Hosting, VPS Hosting, Dedicated Servers.

“Our strongest area has always been the mass market. It so happens that to cover that large number of people, our price has to be reasonable. We make our pricing to be within reasonable range to attract the right people”, Mr. Ajao said, while speaking on 25% discount offering to customers as part of packages to mark anniversary.

Clients’ fondness for Web4Africa’s is not far-fetched, but due to its affordability and cost-effective carrier-neutral environment; local cloud hosting (in Nigeria), offers promise for future growth and 100% uptime.

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Sunday Dare honored with Democracy Heroes Award

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Organisers of Face of Democracy Nigeria Award (FDN) on Sunday night honored Mr. Sunday Dare, Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), with Democracy Heroes Award for his decades of consistency in promoting democracy in Nigeria.

Face of Democracy Nigeria (FDN), now in its fifth year said Mr. Dare has acted in manners worthy of emulation by Nigerian youths.

Therefore, they urged young people to step out to participate in the democratic process by contesting elections in order to represent the people of Nigeria conscientiously.

The FDN team leaders, Olufunsho Ajagbonna and Vivian Lam were emphatic that all the awardees were honoured to enable young people to draw inspiration from their courage, consistency and selflessness.

The event, which was over-subscribed, held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel and ended past midnight, featured series of dances and other artistic displays representing the diversity of Nigeria.

Among those who received awards at the event last night were former Governor of Kano State and serving Senator, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; Senator Gbenga Ashafa, APC Lagos; Actor-turned-politician, Hon. Desmond Elliot; Chief Dele Momodu, Publisher of OVATION Magazine; and.Dr. Chimaobi Anyaso, an entrepreneur with investment in oil & gas and financing among others.

Prior to his appointment as an Executive Commissioner in NCC, Mr. Dare – a multimedia journalist, author, social entrepreneur and development enthusiast – was the Convener of the Social Media Clinic, a media/ICT initiative focused on educating the citizens about ICT utilisation.

Earlier, Dare had a beautiful career at the Independent Network Communications Limited, publishers of TheNEWS, Tempo, AM and PM News, one of the leading media outfits in Nigeria that deployed its professional resources to challenge the callous authoritarianism of the Military regimes of the 80s and early 90s in Nigeria.

For 8 years, he was the Chief, Hausa Service, African Division of VOICE OF AMERICA in Washington.

In 2010, Mr. Dare was listed as one of the 50 successful Nigeria professionals in America.

He had also recently combined the role of Special Media Adviser as well as Chief of Staff to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Emeritus Governor of Lagos State and APC National Leader.

In this regard, his work was central to the victory of the Party in the 2015 elections.

The FDN team is of the opinion that Mr. Dare’s almost three decades of journalism, advocacy, strategic political thinking and impeccable managerial skills has set him “apart as an emergent leader in Nigeria today”.

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