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Stakeholders Make Case for Virtual, Regional Telecom Operators

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Stakeholders in the telecommunications ecosystem have urged federal government and regulatory authority to implement policies aimed at supporting the emergence of regional and Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO).

This is against the backdrop of the need to increase broadband penetration in order to achieve the 30 percent target by next year and address consistent poor quality of service.

MVNO is a provider of management services and a reseller of network services from other telecommunications suppliers that does not own the telecommunication infrastructure.

These network providers are categorized as virtual because they provide network services to customers without owning the underlying network. A M VNO typically leases bandwidth at the wholesale rates from various telecom providers in order to provide solutions to their customers.

They said that emergence of community or regional operators will reduce the over dependence on Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) networks which has resulted in consistent quality of service issues.

Fola Odufuwa, country partner, Nigeria Research ICT Africa, said there are policies in place that community network providers can utilize to deliver communications services within Nigeria.

“There are sufficient license categories within the telecoms framework too. The challenge for companies that seek to operate community networks is however multi-dimensional which could be stream line by regulatory intervention.”

“First, they will be faced with issues of economies of scale in the sense that telecoms is a game of numbers. Equipment vendors as well as the financial markets naturally favour the biggest players who get the lowest possible prices. These players also control most of the frequencies which community operators would need for transmission. Without economies of scale, smaller operators would find it increasingly hard to survive. It is an unfortunate reality that it is yet to be solved even in advanced markets such as the USA and the UK.”

He however stated that : “the polices are in place for community network provisioning but the market realities are such that except smaller telecoms companies develop innovative ways to compete, delivering services to communities as a sole business proposition would be highly risky. The same scenario applies when you consider the impact of technology on CDMA operations in Nigeria. It is not technology per se that has affected CDMA companies. It is rather CDMA operators’ inability to generate economies of scale to deliver ubiquitous mobile communications.”

Also reacting, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators (Alton), said that community and regional networks can be driven by policy.

“Today, our operators are national in outlook, by definition; telecom is all networks in one network because we have one national network. Different operators are contributing members of this national network. If our policies encourage people to become regional, state or local operators, then there will be room for everybody to play,” he said.

He added that: “in the area of technology, we need to understand that technology is expensive as telecom is all about volume, so, players try to compete with less expensive technology due to high volume to face the struggle. The best of this would be, if there are policies to direct people to say you can be a regional operator or local operator, then you will have people that can deploy technology for a community with 1000 inhabitants using CDMA or other technology and then connected to the national network, people will be comfortable and happy with their service provider.”

“Community network from my experience is the most efficient. When I was operating a community network it was good because we know all the subscribers and they know us. Today, everybody is speaking to a pole that personalized service is no longer there. Community networks give better personalized service that you can’t find in national network; this is understandable because if you are dealing with 10,000 subscribers compared to the other operator dealing with 20million subscribers operational intricacies are not the same.”

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TCP: NCC Says Consumer Satisfaction, Robust Sector Top Priorities

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By Ugo Onwuaso

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is determined to carry out its regulatory functions to ensure that the companies operating in the industry were healthy.

Prof. Umar Danbatta, the executive vice chairman of the Commission, made the remark during the 81st edition of the Telecoms Consumer Parliament (TCP) held in Lagos.

He added that “it has taken steps to ensure that the telecommunications sector remains vibrant”.

Mr. Sunday Dare, the executive commission, Stakeholders Management, NCC, who represented the Executive Vice Chairman, said that “the commission would carry out its regulatory functions to ensure that the companies operating in the industry were healthy”.

The Chairman said that the regulatory body had made interventions to prevent disruptions in the consumer’s experience.

According to him, “NCC has commenced aggressive enforcement of the Code of Corporate Governance to ensure that licensees in the industry continue to operate as viable businesses.

“The consumer deserves all the credits for the past and indeed the future successes of this industry.

“The Nigerian telecommunications consumers are at the centre stage of our regulation.

“We at the NCC, being consumer centric regulatory organisation have decided to celebrate consumers of the Nigerian telecommunications industry consistent with the eight point agenda that I set out when I assumed office in 2015.

The number two and six items of the agenda are the core drivers of the NCC year of telecommunications consumer initiative.

“While the number two item of the agenda addresses improved quality of service.

And item six is concerned with protection and empowerment of the telecommunications consumers,” he said.

He also stated that all NCC’s initiatives such as SIM card registration, Mobile Number Portability, Broadband policy implementation, development of 2442 and 622 short codes as well as various consumer awareness campaigns were to ensure consumer satisfaction and protection.

Danbatta added that the commission would continue to look out for and protect the interest of the consumer without compromising the interests of other stakeholders in the industry.

Mr Abdullahi Maikano, director, Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) of NCC, said that over the years, TCP had proven to be an innovative way of bringing all stakeholders together to discuss and proffer solutions to industry issues.

Maikano said that the TCP had continued to occupy a pride of place in the commission’s activities.

He said that NCC would continue to provide significant resources to ensure that the parliament is held regularly for the benefit of consumers and the industry.

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Banks’ Working for Early Sale of 9Mobile — Fidelity Bank Boss

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Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, managing director of Fidelity Bank Plc, has said that all the banks whose money is trapped are working together for smooth sale of the telecoms on or before the end of the year.

This is as the 180 days’ window handed down to the receiver managers of 9Mobile draw nearer.

Explaining industry issues in a recent interactive session with select editors and publishers in Lagos, he said “As you are aware, the creditor banks came together to appoint a new Board and Management for the company, with the Deputy Governor of the CBN as chairman of the Board”.

“The company has good fundamentals with about 22 million subscribers, and it is also very strong in data. Our interest is to ensure the company remains a going concern so that it can attract interested buyers. The banks are working collectively on this,” Fidelity bank chief executive revealed.

It would recalled that at the heat of the $1.2bn syndicated loan default crisis which nearly grounded the former Etisalat, both the telecoms regulator and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), considered the volume of subscribers and intervened.

Part of the intervention was the appointment of Dr. Joseph Nnanna, former Deputy Governor of the CBN to head the chair the board and prepare it for potential investors between 90 to 180 days.

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Vodacom Urges Telcos to Adopt IoT for Increased ARPU

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L-R: Mr. Olusola Teniola, President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria; Mr. Lanre Kolade, Managing Director, Vodacom Business Nigeria; Dr. Fidelis Onah, Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Nigerian Communications Commission; and Mr. Chris Read, Conference Manager NigeriaCom 2017, at the just concluded NigeriaCom 2017 conference in Lagos

Lanre Kolade, Managing Director for Vodacom Business Nigeria, has urged telecommuncations operators in the country invest in Internet of Things services provision in order to increase their Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).

He stated this in a keynote speech at NigeriaCom 2017 organized by Informa Telecoms Group.

According to him ‘today, telecommunications operators are facing a period of flat growth for core services and significant decline in Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). This drastic change threatens the survival of the telecoms industry, as substantial declines in user spending on voice and text services have caused a decline in telcos revenue. IoT has delivered a big growth opportunity for the industry due to the volume of connections expected and experts have projected the market will reach $14.6 trillion global market size by 2020.’

“It is therefore essential to seize the vast opportunities that this growth presents in transforming businesses,” he said.

Across all industries, IoT solutions have been adopted to provide a host of different benefits, from increased Return on Investment (ROI) to developing stronger relationships with customers’, with far reaching benefits projected for the future.

Lanre Kolade in his presentation calls on telecom operators to adapt to the changing times and source other revenue streams to replace what is being lost in the continuing revolution of communications.

“The Internet of Things offers significant growth potential and the opportunity to take a role in new vertical markets, such as automotive, healthcare and smart cities. As these sectors seek to adopt more IoT services, the opportunities that exist are vast. Whether you are a hardware manufacturer or connectivity reseller, adding IoT solutions to your portfolio will open up new revenue streams from selling hardware, software and connectivity services, to a broad range of value-added services, such as consulting, integration and support.  Telcos will have to look at the Internet of Things as a potential revenue generator to offset the declining revenues from core services” he said.

By 2020, more than seven billion people and businesses, and over 30 billion devices, will be connected to the internet.

The question is no longer about the adoption of IoT but rather its application to drive business success.
Vodacom’s IoT solutions support wireless payment devices and e-readers, energy usage and smart metering, chilling cabinets, remote asset monitoring systems and community health management solutions.

Vodacom recently partnered with Kaduna State Government to launch a mobile technology-based healthcare program, SMS for Life 2.0, in the state which aims to increase the availability of essential medication by monitoring drug stock levels and improving the delivery of healthcare for citizens who access public health services.

Vodacom is the technology partner for the initiative, which is a public-private partnership with Novartis and the Kaduna State Ministry of Health.

Vodacom has concluded the training and deployment of SMS for Life 2.0 in Kaduna, with over 250 facilities using the platform to date. This initiative is planned to be implemented in all thirty six states.

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