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Spectrum Fees Exorbitant, Airtel Tells NCC

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A leading mobile telecommunications operator, Airtel, has asked the Nigerian Communications Commission to review its spectrum pricing template in line with prevailing economic situation in the country.

Airtel made the call in response to the NCC invitation to stakeholders to submit comments and observations on its licensing proposal for 38GHz and 42GHz spectrum bands as well as re-planning of 23GHz spectrum band.

In its submission obtained from the NCC’s web portal on Sunday, Airtel urged the regulatory agency to review spectrum fees and pricing to reflect the present economic realities.

The company stated, “Airtel respectfully requests for the review of the commission’s Frequency Spectrum (Fees and Pricing Amendment) Regulation 2009 considering the high cost of microwave frequency when compared with jurisdictions with similar economic indices and the prevailing economic situation in the country.”

In response, the NCC said the concern on spectrum fees review had been noted. It, however, added that spectrum fees were calculated using the appropriate band and bandwidth factors. It stressed that the pricing was in line with the Nigeria Communications Act, 2003.

The NCC had recently sold a broadband frequency, 2.6GHz, which was only applied for by MTN Nigeria Communications Limited. Operators had largely shunned the frequency sale because the starting price was believed to be exorbitant.

Airtel also told the NCC to be cautious of the fact that the International Telecommunications Union had proposed the frequencies it planned to sell (38GHz and 42GHz spectrum bands) for International Mobile Telecommunication.

The operator, therefore, urged the regulatory agency to reserve some portion of the spectrum for the IMT should it go ahead with the planned sale of the spectrum.

According to the ITU, the initial set of the IMT standards approved was called the IMT-2000. Recently, however, the global telecommunications standards body approved the IMT-Advanced standard and added that it would keep progressing the upgrade for the next generation of the technologies.

The IMT-Advanced systems are broadband mobile systems that include the new capabilities of the IMT that go beyond those of the IMT-2000. Such systems provide access to a wide range of telecommunication services including advanced mobile services, supported by mobile and fixed networks, which are increasingly packet-based, according to the ITU.

It explained that the IMT-Advanced systems supported low to high mobility applications and a wide range of data rates in accordance with user and service demands in multiple user environments.

The IMT Advanced also had capabilities for high quality multimedia applications within a wide range of services and platforms, providing a significant improvement in performance and quality of service, it added.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Facebook Halts ‘Instagram Kids’ Project Following Criticism

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Facebook, which faced sharp criticism from lawmakers and users for its plan to develop an Instagram for kids, announced Monday it’s pausing work on the project.

“While we believe building ‘Instagram Kids’ is the right thing to do, Instagram, and its parent company Facebook, will re-evaluate the project at a later date. In the interim Instagram will continue to focus on teen safety and expanding parental supervision features for teens,” the company said in a statement.

Instagram head Adam Mosseri said the app was meant for children ages 10 to 12.

The pause comes after an explosive Wall Street Journal report showed Facebook repeatedly found its Instagram app is harmful to many teenagers. The Journal cited Facebook studies over the past three years that examined how Instagram affects its young user base, with teenage girls being most notably harmed.

One internal Facebook presentation said that among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the issue to Instagram.

The report led lawmakers to readdress their concerns over the social media app. Just after the news broke, representatives on both sides of the aisle demanded answers from Facebook. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., also called on Facebook to abandon its Instagram for kids efforts.

Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, will testify before the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection on Thursday.

Facebook has repeatedly defended its efforts to draw more kids to the app. Mosseri argued in a blog post early Monday that children are already online.

“Critics of ‘Instagram Kids’ will see this as an acknowledgment that the project is a bad idea. That’s not the case. The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today,” he said. Instagram will pause its work to address concerns with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators.

Instagram will also work on expanding its parental controls to teen accounts.

“These new features, which parents and teens can opt into, will give parents the tools to meaningfully shape their teen’s experience,” Mosseri said.

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Telecommunications

Mobile Operators Experienced 16,000 Outages in Seven Months, Says Minister

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami has disclosed that there were about 16,000 reported outages by mobile network operators in the country from January 2021 to July 2021.

The outages, according to him, were due to fibre cuts, access denial and theft, leading to service disruption in the affected areas.

The Minister who disclosed this in Maiduguri, during a recent town hall meeting, where he addressed the vandalism of power and telecommunications infrastructure, noted that the protection of the critical infrastructural facility was key to the nation’s security, economic vitality, public health and safety.

The event, which was organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture, was attended by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State, his Deputy, Mr. Usman Kadafur, and other stakeholders. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, led some other ministers who were panellists at the town hall meeting.

Pantami, who was represented by the Commissioner for Technical Services, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Ubale Maska, decried the situation where telecoms installations that were destroyed in the attacks by terrorists had not been replaced as a result of the lingering insecurity and tensions in parts of the North-east.

As a way forward, the minister recommended continuous stakeholders buying-in and synergy among security forces.
He also urged the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill for onward submission to the President for assent.

Pantami, also said the Fifth Generation (5G) network, that was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council, would be deployed in Nigeria in January 2022. He said when deployed, it would aid the surveillance of public assets against vandalism.

He said while the technology would boost surveillance against criminal elements vandalising public infrastructure across the country, other measures should be put in place to arrest them and bring them to book.

The minister disclosed that there were over 50,000 telecommunication sites across the country, which made it difficult to manage manually except through the deployment of modern technology.

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Nigerian Energy Startup Secures $2M Investment From Shell-Owned Fund

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Nigerian startup Infibranches Technologies, which helps solar energy providers manage their operations and receive payments, has secured US$2 million funding from All On, an impact investment company backed by oil major Shell.

Founded in 2019, the Lagos-based Infibranches has developed two flagship products – OmniBranches and Green Energy Plug – that help companies with large distribution networks, particularly solar home system distributors and mini-grid developers, manage their operations.

OmniBranches is a management platform with features that include agent hierarchy management, commission tracking, transaction records, transaction analytics, and profile management, while Green Energy Plug is a single point of integration for payments and other financial services for service providers in the Nigerian renewable energy sector.

So far the company has served over one million customers and processed over US$120 million in transactions, and the US$2 million All On investment will be used to support the next stage of its growth by financing inventory, agent acquisition, and product and technology development, as well as providing working capital for Infibranches’ plans to distribute solar home systems for households and commercial users across Nigeria, with a special focus in the Niger Delta.

“Through this investment, Infibranches plans to speed up customer acquisition in its current markets. This will also improve existing products like Omnibranches, which has served over a million customers and introduce new products and services to address energy distribution issues,” said chief executive officer (CEO) Olusola Owoyemi.

Dr Wiebe Boer, chief executive of All On, commended Infibrances for its innovative business model that solves payments and collections problems solar system distributors and mini-grid developers face across Nigeria.

“This partnership merges fintech and renewables in a way we haven’t seen in Nigeria before and will enable tens of thousands of new electricity connections,” he said.

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