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FG Lifts Ban on New SIM Cards’ Issuance

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The federal government yesterday reversed its policy banning the sale of new Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, in agreement with industry stakeholders, also yesterday revised the National Digital Identity Policy for SIM card registration.

According to him, the activation of new SIM card, banned in December last year, will begin in April.

Pantami directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to ensure the provisions of the National Digital Identity Policy for SIM card registration are strictly followed by all operators and subscribers.

He said the implementation of the policy and issuance of new SIMs and other suspended activities would resume on the same date, provided that verification had been completed and the guidelines fully adhered to.

According to a statement by the Technical Assistant (Information Technology) to the Minister, Dr. Femi Adeluyi, an earlier policy was approved on February 4, 2020, while the revised policy was developed in early March 2021. The policy was further improved and endorsed for implementation by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 26, 2021.

According to the statement, the final amendments to the revised policy, based on the directives of Buhari to make the use of the National Identification Number (NIN) mandatory for all SIM registration, were completed on April 14, 2021.
The policy includes guidelines on new SIM acquisition and activation, SIM replacement, new SIM activation for corporates and Internet-of-Things/Machine-to-Machine (IoT/M2M), among others.

The statement said: “For the corporate registration, institutions will be required to appoint a telecoms master (at the minimum of an executive management level) to provide the operational primary NIN representation. The telecoms master will also be responsible to ensure that the users provide their NINs to serve as a secondary NIN.

“For IoT/M2M activations, SIM security protocols would be implemented on the SIM profile to ensure that SIMs can only be used for point-to-point data services specific to the URL they are working with. All other services will be barred.”
Pantami stated that progress had been made in the NIN registration process.

“Nonetheless, the federal government is committed to supporting all Nigerians and legal residents to obtain a NIN. The biometric verification process has been slower than anticipated, owing largely to the non-adherence of many previous SIM biometric capture processes to the NIMC standards.

“The revised policy will ensure that operators conform to the required standards for biometric capture. The guidelines in the policy have been painstakingly developed and while they are thorough, it should be noted that they have been developed that way in national interest since the SIM is essentially a national resource. Citizens and legal residents are encouraged to bear with the government as the process has been developed in the best interest of the country,” the statement added.

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Telecommunications

Vodacom Business Africa Launches SD-WAN Software to Countries Across Africa to Eliminate Connectivity Barriers

Vodacom Business Africa has announced plans to launch its SD-WAN software to clients in all 47 operating countries across its African footprint.

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Vodacom Business Africa, an enterprise-focused ICT subsidiary of the Vodacom group and Africa’s preferred pan-African service provider, has announced plans to launch its SD-WAN software to clients in all 47 operating countries across its African footprint.

The SD-WAN Software is a virtual WAN architecture that allows enterprises to leverage any combination of transport services which includes MPLS, LTE, and broadband internet services to securely connect users to applications.

It also assures consistent application performance and resiliency, automates traffic steering in an application-driven manner based on business intent, improves network security, and simplifies the WAN architecture.

Following the launch of the software in Africa, the executive head of strategic marketing for Vodacom Business Africa Wale Odeyemi said, “By launching this offering into Africa, we’re eliminating connectivity barriers that growing businesses are contending with.

“These include increasing cybersecurity threats, escalating data demands and costs, as well as slow or unresponsive digital applications that stall productivity.”

He added that Vodacom Business Africa offers an end-to-end SD-WAN solution, which implies that they provide both the physical network underlay and the digital overlay so that their clients won’t have to approach various providers to set up the kind of network they need.

“Companies can link to multiple providers and let their software decide which is the fastest, most efficient link to perform specific tasks. When choosing our solution, you don’t have to completely replace an existing network, either.

“You can simply strengthen what you already have. as an overlay technology, our SD-WAN can run on top of existing carrier-grade multiprotocol label switching connections (MPLS) and across hybrid WANs. Plus, it’s scalable and configurable to meet each business’s needs and pace of growth”, he added.

The Vodacom Business Africa SD-WAN is fully managed by a team of technology experts, and streamlines networks across multiple locations locally and internationally.

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USSD Service May no Longer be Available as Network Providers Threaten Banks

Network providers have threatened to halt the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) offered to the financial institutions operating in the country due to N80 billion unpaid debt.

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Network providers have threatened to halt the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) offered to the financial institutions operating in the country due to N80 billion unpaid debt.

Investors King learnt that the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) says it might be forced to stop Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services because banks have failed to pay for services rendered.

Speaking at a conference in Lagos, ALTCON chairman, Mr Gbenga Adebayo lamented that the debt which stood at N42 billion earlier this year has now risen to N80 billion. 

Adebayo noted that despite the government’s effort to resolve the matter, many banks were not cooperating as regards paying their debt. 

He further disclosed that the telecom operators might have to disconnect the banks from the USSD service until they do the needful.

It will be recalled that in March 2021, telecommunication operators had threatened to withdraw their USSD services to financial institutions due to the N42 billion accumulated debt.

The huge debt was a result of the deduction from the commission during the transactions. However, the banks failed to remit to the telecommunications operators who own the infrastructure used for the transactions. 

The USSD service has become an integral part of the Nigerian banking system. Some of the services available on USSD include money transfer, checking of account balance and buying mobile airtime.

Other services which can be carried out on USSD include buying data and generating bank statements or pin codes.

No doubt, the USSD service has significantly helped to drive the CBN cashless policy and financial inclusion. 

It is believed that millions of Nigerians who do not have a smartphone or run out of data or internet connection often resolve to the USSD service. Billions of naira are transacted every day through USSD. Statista reported that the value of USSD transactions in 2020 was a whopping N550 billion. 

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MTN Partners With Ericsson on 5G Internet Connection

The largest Telecommunication company in Africa, MTN has partnered with Ericsson for its 5G network in Nigeria. 

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MTN Nigeria has partnered with a world-renowned telecommunications hardware, software and service provider, Ericsson to launch 5G technology and Radio Access Network in Nigeria. 

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola said that MTN will combine the strength it used to expand its 2G, 3G and 4G networks to expand its 5G network across the country in the coming months. 

Toriola also recognised the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami for his role and leadership in his capacity as minister which has been beneficial to the telecommunication industry.

It will be recalled that in December 2021, MTN and Mafab Communications Limited won the bid for the 5G spectrum auctioned by the Nigerian Communications Commission at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.

The partnership with Ericsson will help MTN to provide revolutionised 5G network services to its numerous customers in Nigeria. The 5G network will be critical in unlocking the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality for millions of users in Nigeria. 

Hossam Kandeel, Vice President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa was quoted to have said ” We (Ericsson) are proud to be a part of Nigeria’s 5G digital transformation that has only just begun.

“With connectivity being the backbone of digitization, we are committed to delivering the best service to our partners at MTN Nigeria to support them in this thrilling journey.”

On his part, MTN Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Mr Muhammed Rufai who also witnessed the event said “5G will revolutionise the way we live and communicate across industries. With the speed 5G offers, we will be able to experience the Internet with low latency, which means no lag, making our virtual interactions more real.

“At MTN, we will continue to pursue the rollout of 5G technology to revolutionise Internet access across the continent.” 

 

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