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Nigeria Lags in 4G Availability Report of Africa

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Nigeria seats at eighth position out of 10 top African countries with 4G availability according to mobile analytics company Opensignal in its State of Mobile Network Experience report which was published last month.

Opensignal’s 4G availability analysis shows Kenya, Morocco and South Africa featured in the top four – but the winner was something of a revelation, the firm says.

Senegal topped the Africa table with a score of 77.2% – beating some much more advanced markets in the global rankings.

According to Opensignal, Senegal can be proud of a relatively advanced 4G mobile network experience, as Orange has already launched LTE-A in the country, while Tigo’s 4G network rollout is well under way.

“Much like in our download speed analysis, only one African country saw its 4G availability fall over the past year, as Ghana saw its score drop nearly five percentage points to 61.2%,” Boyland notes.

“Our users in Senegal saw a big improvement in their chart-topping 4G availability score, which increased over 15 points to reach 77.2%, but Egypt saw the greatest improvement of over 17 points in the past year to top 65%, while Algeria and Nigeria also saw their scores grow by over 10 points.”

Mobile-first markets

However, when measuring how the mobile-first markets in Africa stack up against each other, Opensignal compared 10 countries from the continent: SA, Tunisia, Morocco, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria.

“South Africa topped our Africa Download Speed Experience chart with a fairly impressive score of 15Mbps, while Tunisia, Morocco and Kenya managed average speeds of over 10Mbps,” says Peter Boyland, senior analyst at Opensignal.

Earlier this year, the mobile analytics company noted SA is one of the world’s most consistent countries when comparing the difference between the slowest and fastest 4G download speeds that mobile users experience throughout the day.

In the latest study, the firm, nonetheless, says SA’s score was quite a way behind the leading global scores, but the country still just managed to sneak into the top half of the global rankings.

 

The firm explains that almost all the African countries it analysed saw their download speed experience scores increase over the past year, with only Algeria (3.1Mbps) seeing its average speed dip slightly.

It adds that between the first three months of 2018 and the same period of 2019, Tunisia saw the biggest increase in terms of Mbps, as its score grew 3.6Mbps to reach an average of 13.4Mbps.

“But our users in Senegal experienced the greatest download speed experience boost by percentage, as the average speed in the country jumped close to 50%,” Boyland says.

Good video

Opensignal points out that SA also topped the video experience table, as one of two African nations which scored a “good” rating (55-65 out of 100) in this metric.

It explains that a good video experience is characterised by video streamed from the Internet to a phone or tablet rendering at both low and high resolutions, but exhibiting some loading time before playback begins and some stalling, especially at higher resolutions.

Tunisia also managed a good rating, while three African countries – Egypt, Morocco and Kenya – scored in the “fair” range (40-55).

“Our users in these countries should expect longer loading times and frequent stalling at higher resolutions, but a better video experience at low resolutions,” Boyland says.

Half of the African countries Opensignal analysed rated as “poor” for video experience (0-40), characterised by frequent stalling during video playback and long loading times, even at low resolutions.

Since 4G is still in its infancy in many African markets, the firm says a large proportion of the continent’s mobile networks are not yet suited to delivering a good mobile video experience.

But, nonetheless, it says mobile coverage, and particularly data connectivity, are transforming the lives of billions of people on the continent.

“The majority of Africans have never experienced fixed-line broadband, meaning mobile is opening up services such as mobile banking and payments, social media and even instant messaging that many of us have taken for granted for decades. And as 4G connectivity improves and 5G comes to the continent, more and more people will see their lives transformed by their mobile network experience,” Boyland concludes.

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NigComSat-1R, Nigeria’s Only Satellite to Expire in 7 Years

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NigComSat-1R, Nigeria’s only communications satellite will outlive its usefulness by 2026, meaning that the satellite will expire by then.

 

Recall that NigComSat-1, was designed and built by the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) at a cost of $400m.

 

The satellite (NigComSat-1) which was put in the orbit in May 2007, was de-orbited in November 2008 following the development of power fault.

 

It was replaced in December 2011 with NigComSat-1R by the same company.

 

This NigComSat-1R, Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited, managers of the satellite, has said will expire in the next seven years.

 

Mr Raji Kolawole, executive director, Engineering Services at NigComSat Limited, at the company’s resellers and channel partners at its Resellers Forum in Abuja, however said that the company was exploring avenues to acquire two more satellites as the government had directed it to explore private sector sources for the funds required for the construction of the additional satellites.

 

He said if properly utilised, the communications satellite also had the capacity to help the country to check the incidents of kidnapping and terrorism, which had become endemic in recent times.

 

Kolawole said, “The present satellite has about seven years to the end of life. For business continuity, we are collaborating with the private sector to acquire two additional satellites.

 

“The reason the Federal Government declared NigComSat1R as a national priority project is because of the navigation overly on our satellite, which basically is for security purposes, to curb kidnapping, terrorism and the likes.

 

“Now at the moment, we are working with security agencies to use the satellite to curb incessant kidnapping around the country.”

 

NigComSat-1R with a lifespan of 15 years, was launched into the orbit on December 19, 2011.

 

 

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Active Telecoms Subscribers Decreased by 72,782 in April – NCC

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says the active subscribers on the telecommunication networks reduced by 72,782 in April 2019.

The telecommunications regulator disclosed this in its Monthly Subscriber/Operator Data made available on its website on Tuesday.

The active subscribers on the telecommunications networks decreased from 173,713,842 in March to 173,641,060 in April.

According to the data, 173,383,803 of the 173,641,060 active users subscribe to the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network services.

The GSM operators’ active customers figure reduced by 49,060 in April, after the 173,432,863 subscribers recorded in March 2019.

The report stated that out of the GSM operators, MTN had 64,732,167 users in April, showing a decrease of 302,448 from the 65,034,615 it recorded in March 2019.

Globacom’s figure increased in April by 117,053 with 46,380,756 customers, as against 46,203,703 in March.

Airtel had 45,433,300 subscribers in the month under review, which showed an increase of 194,965 users, from the 45,238,335 recorded in March.

9mobile recorded 16,720,146 customers in April, against 16,838,403 in March; having a decrease of 118,257 subscribers.

Visafone, which just migrated from the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) to the GSM network had 117,434 subscribers in the month of April, showing a decrease of 373 from its March record of 117,807.

The Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operators recorded no subscriber in the month under review, indicating a decrease of 4,460 from the 4,460 users in March 2019.

The only surviving CDMA operator, Multi-Links, had 4,460 in March, but lost all the subscribers in April 2019.

The monthly subscriber/operator data showed that the Fixed Wireless network (landline) consumers reduced to zero in April, as against 26,865 recorded in March.

One of the two landline networks, Visafone had lost all 26,437 March subscribers in April, while Multi-Links also lost all its 428 customers in the month under review.

It also revealed that the Fixed Wired operators (landline) subscriber base increased by 879; increasing to 108,033 users in April, as against 107,154 recorded in March 2019.

In the Fixed Wired arena, MTN Fixed moved from 5,449 users in March 2019 to 5,373 users in April, thereby decreasing by 76 customers.

Glo Fixed had 3,842 users in April, increasing by 1,053 customers from the March record of 2,789.

IpNX network moved from 2,221 subscriber base in March 2019 to 2,237 in April, hence, its customers increased by 16.

The report indicated that 21st Century Network had 96,581 customers in April, recording a decrease of 114 users from its March record of 96,695 subscribers.

It also showed that the two Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) networks had 149,224 active users in April, as their customers increased by 6,724 from their March 2019 subscriber base of 142,500.

Of the VOIP networks, Smile Communication had 144,619 customers, giving an increase of 7,372 users to its March result of 137,247.

Ntel had 4,605 consumers subscribing to its products and services in April, showing a decrease of 648 users from the March 2019 record of 5,253.

The regulatory body said that Section 89, Subsection 3(c) of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 mandated it to monitor and report the state of the telecommunications industry.

“The commission is mandated to provide statistical analyses and identify industry trends with regard to services, tariffs, operators, technology, subscribers, issues of competition and dominance.

“This is with a view to identifying areas where regulatory intervention will be needed.

“The commission regularly conducts studies, surveys and produces reports on the telecommunications industry.

“Therefore, telecommunications operators are obligated, under the terms of their licenses, to provide NCC with such data on a regular basis for analytical review and publishing,” NCC said.

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Wi-Fi Remains High-Performance Network Technology till 2024 – Gartner

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Wi-Fi will remain the primary high-performance networking technology through 2024, according to Gartner’s top ten wireless technology trends for enterprise architecture (EA) and technology innovation leaders.

Gartner claims new forms of wireless technology will become central to emerging technologies including robots, drones, self-driving vehicles and new medical devices over the next five years.

Nick Jones, distinguished research vice president at Gartner, said: “Business and IT leaders need to be aware of these technologies and trends now. Many areas of wireless innovation will involve immature technologies, such as 5G and millimetre wave, and may require skills that organisations currently don’t possess.

“EA and technology innovation leaders seeking to drive innovation and technology transformation should identify and pilot innovative and emerging wireless technologies to determine their potential and create an adoption roadmap.”

After Wi-Fi, Gartner lists other key trends including 5G cellular, vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) wireless, long-range wireless power, low-power Wide-Area (LPWA) networks, wireless sensing, enhanced wireless location tracking, millimetre wave wireless, backscatter networking and software-defined radio (SDR).

5G cellular systems are starting to be deployed in 2019 and 2020 says the global market research and analysis firm.

The complete rollout will take five to eight years. In some cases, the technology may supplement Wi-Fi, as it is more cost-effective for high-speed data networking in large sites, such as ports, airports and factories.

“5G is still immature, and initially, most network operators will focus on selling high-speed broadband. However, the 5G standard is evolving and future iterations will improve 5G in areas such as the Internet of Things (IOT) and low-latency applications,” Jones added.

The absorption and reflection of wireless signals can be used for sensing purposes. Wireless sensing technology can be used, for example, as an indoor radar system for robots and drones. Virtual assistants can also use radar tracking to improve their performance when multiple people are speaking in the same room.

“Sensor data is the fuel of the IOT. Accordingly, new sensor technologies enable innovative types of applications and services,” Jones said. “Systems including wireless sensing will be integrated in a multitude of use cases, ranging from medical diagnostics to object recognition and smart home interaction.”

According to Gartner SDR shifts the majority of the signal processing in a radio system away from chips and into software. This enables the radio to support more frequencies and protocols.

The technology has been available for many years, but has never taken off as it is more expensive than dedicated chips. However, Gartner expects SDR to grow in popularity as new protocols emerge. As older protocols are rarely retired, SDR will enable a device to support legacy protocols, with new protocols simply being enabled via software upgrade.

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