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Tax, Others Kill 90% of ISPs in Nigeria

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reported with dismay that only 10 per cent of the 103 licensed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country has approached it for licence renewal.

This means that some 90 per cent of ISPS are out of business.

The commission said the larger telecom industry of which ISPs are integral part, is beset with numerous challenges.

It fingered issues with power; accessibility of forex; multiple taxation/regulation; infrastructure; vandalism as well as high costs; and long delays in obtaining right of way and permits not only degrade the quality of services provided by the licencees.

Ms Funlola Akiode, director, Licensing and Authorisation, who spoke yesterday in Lagos at a Stakeholders’ Forum on ISPs said that the Commission has witnessed a tremendous decline in the number of applications for ISP licences while the renewal rate of this licence category too has dropped drastically.

“In the past five years, the Commission has licenced a total number of 103 ISPs nationwide but about 10 per cent has applied for renewal of the licence. That is of the reasons why we are here today, to find out if and why about 90 per cent of our ISPs are out of business and why some ISPs have not rolled out services in accordance with the conditions of their licences,” Ms. Akiode said.

According to her, as a responsive regulator, the sustainability of ISPs in the telecoms business is the primary interest of the Commission, adding however that the regulator is not unmindful of the difficult operating environment, the stifling competition from a variety of players, dearth of funding and so on.

In his welcome address, Garba Dambatta, executive vice chairman, Prof said the larger telecom industry of which ISPs are integral part, is beset with numerous challenges.

Represented by Sunday Dare, executive commissioner, Stakeholders Management, he lamented that issues with power, accessibility of forex, multiple taxation/regulation, infrastructure, vandalism as well as high costs and long delays in obtaining right of way and permits not only degrade the quality of services provided by the licencees, they also negatively affect critical the attainment of critical national objectives on the speedy roll-out of broadband networks to power socio-economic growth and the enhancement of the country’s contribution to national gross domestic product (GDP).

“The viability of ISPs is particularly challenged by factors such as the availability of cheap/ubiquitous mobile internet access, bandwidth costs, vertical integration of mobile network operators as well as the growing uptake of leased line services by operators among others. Also noteworthy is the question of availability/effectiveness of local internet exchange point.

“We believe the ISPs have a critical role to play in the attainment of national broadband growth objectives and must therefore not be left to die out,” he said.

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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MTN, Ericsson Begin First 5G Customer Trial Deployment Africa

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MTN Group and Ericsson have announced the first 5G customer trial deployment in South Africa starting with a fixed wireless access site at technology company Netstar’s headquarters in Midrand.

The field deployment in Midrand, situated between Johannesburg and Tshwane (Pretoria), is part of Ericsson’s continuing efforts to deliver end-to-end 5G capabilities to support MTN South Africa’s growth as well as 5G and enterprise ambitions. Following the field deployment, MTN is planning to test other 5G use cases.

The Ericsson 5G solution deployed operates on 28 GHz band with a total operating bandwidth of 100 MHz using Ericsson trial antenna integrated radio units and Intel® 5G Mobile Trial Platform providing Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) in the customer premises. Many of the Netstar employees can also connect to this trial 5G network through the different WiFi access points.

Giovanni Chiarelli, CTIO MTN South Africa says: “We have been working in close partnership with Ericsson on 5G for tests in the lab, field trials, and now initial customer test deployment. Throughout this process, our customers and their service requirements are our top priority. Our aim is to build a network to cater for current and future required services.”

Chiarelli noted that the current discussion regarding the imminent release of much-needed additional spectrum, should also include 5G spectrum in the primary 3.5 GHz band.

“ICASA has a great opportunity to get South Africa on par and in some instances, ahead of the international game, by allocating 5G spectrum at the same time as the additional 4G spectrum.

“The additional 4G spectrum will extend high speed internet access to all South Africans and will help to further drive down the cost of communication. Access to 5G spectrum will see our nation able to actively participate on the cutting edge of the digital economy and we cannot afford to fall behind the 4th Industrial Revolution,” he said.

In addition to facilitating the delivery of next-generation mobile broadband, cloud and providing support for massive Internet of Things (IoT) deployment, this collaboration will also enable new industry use cases thanks to increased throughput and reduced latency.

Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Middle East and Africa says: “5G holds immense potential of opportunities, driving the industry’s digitization and the pursue for innovation. Our collaboration with MTN South Africa will enable us to jointly develop 5G use cases based on real business needs that will support MTN to meet their future business requirements.”

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Angst over Plans to Reduce MTN $8.1Bn Fine to $800m

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The upper chamber of the National Assembly has queried the rationale behind the plan by the Federal Government to reduce the $8.1 billion fine imposed on the MTN, a communication giant, to $800 million.

 

The development, which is presently causing controversy in the Senate, has been described as an issue that should not be ignored by the lawmakers.

 

The Senate maintained that it has interest in the issue, adding that what Federal Government does with the fine is of little interest to it.

 

The Senate, which said how the percentage of reduction from $8.1 billion to $800 million was arrived at is of interest to it, added that it should be intimated why the reduction became necessary and also what informed the penalty of $8.1 billion in the first instance.

 

A pointer to what Federal Government is planning, it was learnt, was that with the help of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) it may have concluded arrangements to cut the $8.1 billion fine to $800 million through the back door.

 

Speaking with newsmen, Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim, chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, disclosed how the CBN failed to implement Senate resolutions passed to it before conducting another investigation into the alleged infraction by MTN.

 

Ibrahim, who said that his committee would immediately demand from CBN a detailed report on the matter to be better informed, noted that that is the only way Nigerians would know what transpired between the CBN and MTN on the $8.1 billion fine.

 

The lawmaker pointed out that the last time the Senate heard about the issue was when it had a little retreat last two weeks in Lagos, where CBN did the presentation of its biannual activities to the committee (Senate Committee).

 

Senator Ibrahim said that the CBN explained that its investigation was based on a petition from a law firm and its stand was that the penalty was correct.

 

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Huawei Places Nigeria on Short-term Radar for its Data Centre Offering

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Multinational ICT firm Huawei has officially launched its AI-integrated public Cloud offering for Africa at AfricaCom 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa and confirmed the data centre will be located in Johannesburg to offer comprehensive cloud services in early 2019.

In early November 2018 Huawei issued a statement announcing its intention to launch its first public cloud data centre in Africa.

According to Huawei, ‘globally its cloud business unit Huawei Cloud has introduced over 120 cloud services in 18 categories and cover 60+ general solutions including SAP, high-performance computing (HPC), Internet of Things (IOT), security and DevOps’.

Edward Deng, Vice President, Huawei Cloud, confirmed the immediate strategy is to focus on increasing regional presence in South Africa before moving on to other countries in Africa – with Nigeria firmly on the short-term radar.

Deng said Huawei’s strategy is to positioning cloud to help Africa build a fully connected, digital Africa, and specifically offer cloud with AI “to make Africa’s cities and industries more intelligent”.

Huawei Cloud will offer a full stack of AII solutions and the company believes its offering is differentiated from competition by being “ultra-fast and ultra-simple.”

However, executives stressed that the company’s focus is on the customer and “not on market competition.”

Deng said that like it did with mobile technology, the continent has another opportunity to leapfrog with cloud services.

The company predicts that globally, 85% of enterprise applications will be deployed to the cloud by 2025.

“It’s a great opportunity for us here in Africa,” said Deng, highlighting that cloud will offer a new way for enterprises to adopt applications and leverage a model that offers cost saving, speed to market and security.

If cloud is the ‘aircraft runway’, technologies like AI, IOT and 5G represents the engine, he added.

Robert Nkuna, Director General at South Africa’s Department of Telecommunications & Postal Services (DTPS), said Huawei’s Africa cloud launch is a timely contribution to South Africa’s digital transformation process.

Nkuna cited several current and scheduled projects that the country’s government has prioritised, including the release- and licensing of high demand radio frequency spectrum (in 600MHz, 700MHz and 800MHz frequencies) and this process is “at an advanced stage” and will likely be concluded at the beginning of 2019.

In addition to infrastructure roll out, the DTPS has earmarked the country’s 5G readiness and the development of this ecosystem, as well as preparation for the 5G Symposium planned for next year.

Along with South Africa’s participation at the World Radio Conference, the country will press ahead with the formation of a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission, incorporating the private sector and civil society, to take advantage of advances in ICT, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

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