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Thursday 2nd December, 2021

Telecoms

NCC 97% Ready For 5G Deployment In Nigeria- Danbatta

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L-R: Mr. Tony Ojobo, President, African ICT Foundation; Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON); Olatomiwa Williams, Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria; Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, Director, Spectrum Administration, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Mr. Femi Williams, CEO NewWaves Ecosystem Ltd; Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, NCC; Mr. Aaron Ukodie, Publisher eWorld Magazine, during the Annual Tech Alliance Forum organized by Techeconomy.ng recently, at the Oriental Hotels, Lekki, Lagos.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has disclosed that its readiness to begin full implementation of the Fifth Generation (5G) technology deployment in the country is at 97 per cent.

Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, disclosed the status of the Commission’s 5G technology deployment readiness at the annual African Tech Alliance Forum (AfriTech 2021) held in Lagos on Wednesday and with the overarching theme: “Embracing Changes and Digital Transformation in the New Normal.”

In his presentation titled: “NCC as a Digital Transformation Crusader and Nigeria’s in-Road to 5G Deployment,” Danbatta stated that, following the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a change in the dynamics of people’s interaction, especially on the Internet.

Danbatta, who noted that almost every means of communication has become virtual in one way or the other, however, stated that this paradigm shift in communication has led to a significant increase in network connectivity requirements as a result of the unprecedented upsurge in Internet traffic.

The upsurge he said is occasioned by the use of a plethora of web applications such as Zoom, Microsoft teams, WebEx, Goto, Webinar and so on, noting that these have made remote work, virtual meetings, virtual studies and virtual healthcare delivery, among others, the new normal.

Danbatta stated that even though, the network infrastructure in Nigeria has demonstrated some capacity to contain the surge in internet traffic, a lot of work is being done by the Commission to boost network capacity, sensitise the public and ensure access to affordable connectivity during the period of the pandemic and beyond.

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Due to the network traffic demand, the EVC said the NCC is working with operators to implement a number of initiatives to ensure network expansion. These, he said, include an ongoing plan to auction spectrum in 3.5 gigahertz (Ghz) band to operators for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria.

“Consistent with our mandate as enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA-2003) and other guiding legislations, we have been working to ensure the penetration of broadband services in line with Federal Government’s targets, as contained in Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020 to 2025.

“Already, we are set for the auction some spectrum slots in 3.5GHz band. The other day I was at the National assembly, I informed the senate that we were 95 per cent ready for 5G. Today as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97 per cent completion,” Danbatta said.

“The Committee set up to auction the Spectrum has already developed an Information Memorandum (IM) which is already published for inputs and comments from all industry stakeholders. Prior to this, a 5G deployment plan was developed and we have since secured Federal Government’s approval,” he said.

Danbatta said this is in addition to a lot of other initiatives being put in place by the Commission to improve broadband connectivity in Nigeria, adding that the surge in Internet traffic induced by Covid-19 has continued to challenge National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) and other arms of governments to ensure deployment of adequate resources such as spectrum and other forms of support to increase network resilience and accessibility to telecommunication services.

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“Emerging technologies such as 5G, which NCC is driving aggressively in Nigeria, Internet of Things (IoT); Cloud Computing; Quantum Computing Augmented/Virtual Reality, and similar emerging technologies are playing a critical role in improving remote communication over the internet with great user experience.

“The NCC is committed to promoting this inevitable change and enhance user experience through effective regulation of the telecoms sector,” the EVC said.

The EVC was represented at the event by Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, Director, Spectrum Administration. Also in attendance was The Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde.

Other key industry stakeholders participated at the one-day Forum, which also featured an exhibition by some sector players.

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Telecoms

NCC’s “SHINE YOUR EYES, NO FALL MUGU,” Campaign Debuts In Benin

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The Nigerian Communications Commission has once again expressed its commitment to reach all categories of telecom consumers, with the launch in Benin, of a consumer-centric outreach programme tagged, “Shine your eyes, no fall mugu,” which literally translates to, “Be alert, Don’t be a victim of fraudsters.”

The programme, an initiative of the Commission’s Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB), is specially conceived and implemented using Nigerian pidgin, and it’s intended for a segment of the telecom consumer population who are more comfortable with localised communication that resonates with their reality.

The two-day programme, implemented in three phases, started with a roadshow that featured local artistes and comedians who displayed musical and other performances to amuse and entertain people to create awareness and sensitise telecom consumers about how cybercriminals may use telecom platforms to defraud unsuspecting members of the public.

The last day of the two-day event featured a 20-minute radio talk in Nigerian pidgin, to further create awareness and like the roadshow, to invite telecom consumers to an enlightenment forum where presentations will be made about tricks deployed by cybercriminals to defraud people online.

The presentations also captured measures to be taken by consumers and members of the public in order not to fall victim to fraudsters who may use telecom platforms to perpetrate fraudulent acts.

Additionally, at today’s enlightenment forum, drama, audio narratives and other attractions thematised on the centrality of vigilance, alertness and caution in cyberspace by all users, will be featured.

The programme was facilitated by a local partner who supports NCC, by mobilising critical segments of the public through opinion leaders and social groups to participate in the events, in order for them to be armed with the right information they may require to explore the Internet safely.

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This programme, coming on the heels of NCC’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (which occurred in October), and the annual National Cybersecurity Conference, which took place on 3rd November 2021, is meant to reinforce the messages of cyber awareness, cyber vigilance, and cyber smartness to telecom consumers whenever they are online.

The roadshow commenced at Ekehuan Road, and the procession drove through Airport Road, to State Secretariat, Sapele Road and through the roundabout to Ring Road, to Akpakpava, Dawson Road and back to Ugbowo and Uselu Market.

The motorcade, the music, the displays by artistes and the underlying narration of the message of the outreach in Nigerian pidgin caught the attention of residents and passers-by who patiently listened to the messages.

Information, Communication and Education (IEC) materials were also shared with the public at every neighbourhood the procession stopped to display and educate the public.

 

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Telecoms

Regulator, Licensee Engagement Critical To Industry Growth, Development – Danbatta

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Prof. Umar Danbatta, EVC/CEO, NCC

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has said that the “Talk to the Regulator” Forum organised by the Commission is critical to industry growth and development.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Lagos edition of the “Talk To The Regulator” Forum on Thursday in Lagos, Danbatta said interactions like this sits squarely within the five pillars of the Commission’s Strategic Management Plan (2020-2024).

Recall that the NCC’s five pillars of Strategic Management Plan (2020-2024) include Regulatory Excellence, Promotion of Universal Broadband Access, the Development of the Digital Economy, Facilitation of Market Development, and Strategic Partnering.

Danbatta, who was represented at the forum by the Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, Mr. Adeleke Adewolu stated that the forum provides the Commission with a unique opportunity to engage telecom licensees in a collaborative atmosphere which, in turn, enables a joint examination of issues that are negatively affecting licence compliance and industry growth.

“Through regular interactions with our licensees, the Commission is able to gain valuable insights to enhance our regulatory output and drive excellence in consonance with the five pillars of our strategic vision for the industry as encapsulated in the Commission’s Strategic Vision Plan (SVP, 2021-2025),” the EVC said.

He noted that eventhough analysts agree that the industry has continued to show improvements in key indices such as contribution to GDP (which grew to 14.42% in Q2 2021), active internet subscriptions (which reached over 140million at the end of September, 2021), teledensity (which reached 99.98% at the end of September,
2021), and Broadband penetration (which reached 40.01% of the population at the end of September, 201), the Commission is not resting on these achievements.

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“We are very much aware that not all our licensees are doing as well as they ought to be doing. Several licensees are struggling to pay their staff, many are unable to comply with basic licence obligations, several are defaulting in the payment of their Annual Operating Levies (AOL), and the level of interconnect and other inter-licensee indebtedness is still unacceptably high.

“The Commission will continue to roll-out forward-looking and all-inclusive regulatory initiatives to provide market opportunities for all its licensees. We have also committed to the constant review of our licensing framework as well as key regulatory instruments so as to refresh our regulatory frameworks and ensure better service delivery for consumers and efficient attainment of other national interest objectives,” he said.

Danbatta stated further that the industry can only achieve the national interest objectives set out in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) and other policy instruments if most of the licensees are operating at optimal strength.

“We are, therefore, keenly aware of the need to listen to our licensees and address any concerns that may impede the attainment of the relevant policy objectives,” he said.

The EVC assured that the NCC Board and Management are fully committed to take comments on Board and to make necessary adjustments where possible.

“Indeed, the Commission’s leadership restated this commitmen during our recent Board and Management Retreat, and we consider this forum a good place to demonstrate that commitment,” Danbatta said

Themed: ‘Improving Stakeholder Satisfaction’, the two-day forum had in attendance on the opening day, stakeholders in the telecommunications industry including telecoms and Internet service providers across Lagos and members of the public.

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Telecoms

NCC Extends Deadline For Submission Of 3.5GHz Bid To Next Monday

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has extended the deadline for the submission of Bids and Initial Bid Deposit for the 3.5GHz spectrum auction to 5.00 pm on Monday, 29th November, 2021.

Recall that the Commission had earlier scheduled the submission of responses in respect of the 3.5GHz Spectrum Band auction to close on Wednesday, November 24,2021.

The NCC, however, said on Wednesday in.a statement signed by its Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde that “due to the challenges posed to air travels as witnessed recently and considering that it may have some impact on intending bidders regarding the submission of their bids, the Commission hereby extends the deadline for submission of bids and Initial Bid Deposits (IBDs) to 5.00 pm on Monday, 29th November, 2021.”

The statemebt however, quoted Adinde as saying that all other events as scheduled in the Information Memorandum remain unchanged.

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