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Intelsat Secures Extension of Vodacom DRC Ku-band Contract with Managed CellBackhaul Service

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Intelsat operator of the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network, has been selected by Vodacom DRC, a leading mobile telecommunication company in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to provide its Ku-band satellite services. Intelsat’s end-to-end managed CellBackhaul service will serve as an alternative backhaul service to certain sites as a component of Vodacom’s Rural Communication Solution (RCS) initiative to bring mobile services to deep rural sites in DRC.

As part of the “Inclusion for All” pillar of their Vision 2025 strategy, Vodacom brings together available transport networks and hybrid power solutions to enhance and upgrade rural communication services. Intelsat’s Ku-band capacity and the CellBackhaul managed service enable Vodacom to extend mobile connectivity to areas where fiber or microwave backhaul networks are not yet available or unfeasible to deploy.

“We are pleased to continue to work with Intelsat on their new Ku-Band managed service as an alternative backhaul solution to support our rural expansion objectives,” said Didier Kabongo, CNO of Vodacom DRC. “Expanding mobile service to the underserved and unserved population of the Democratic Republic of Congo is a key pillar of our Vision 2025 strategy.”

Intelsat CellBackhaul combines the extended reach and resiliency of Intelsat’s largest-of-its-kind global network with network design, installation, and operation services, making it possible for mobile network operators to deploy services in areas where traditional terrestrial backhaul services are unavailable. CellBackhaul DRC extends Intelsat’s portfolio of managed cellular backhaul solutions that includes platforms in Europe, the United States and Japan.

Rhys Morgan, Intelsat’s vice president, and general manager, EMEA Media and Networks Sales said, “CellBackhaul managed services bring together the right capacity, services, and expertise to provide customers economical alternatives to expand into difficult areas. Intelsat is dedicated to this important partnership with Vodacom DRC, helping to deliver solutions that fill gaps where other technologies are unworkable.”

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Lagos Residents Frustrated by Rapid Data Drain, Call for NCC Action

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Lagos residents are expressing increasing frustration over what they describe as the rapid depletion of their data bundles.

Many subscribers are now calling on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to address their concerns as they suspect changes in billing practices by telecommunication providers.

Numerous subscribers have reported that their data does not last as long as it used to. A Lagos-based teacher, Mrs. Nafidah Zaynab, shared her experience, stating that a N2,000 data bundle, which previously lasted almost a month, now depletes within just a few days.

This sentiment is echoed by many, including Idowu Anabili, a trader who has reduced his data usage due to rising costs.

Abdullahi Yunus, who runs a café, noted a significant increase in his data expenses, spending between N70,000 and N100,000 monthly, up from N30,000. He attributes this spike to faster data consumption.

Telecom operators deny any wrongdoing, attributing the faster data consumption to increased usage by subscribers.

An anonymous official from MTN explained that the variety of activities performed on smartphones has increased, leading to faster data usage.

Airtel Nigeria’s spokesperson, Mr. Femi Adeniran, suggested that background apps and high-definition streaming contribute to the issue.

Despite complaints, operators assert they have not officially increased data prices. They emphasize that automatic app updates and other technical factors may be responsible for the perceived quick depletion.

Experts suggest that the challenging economic climate may be pressuring telecom companies to subtly reduce data value.

The industry has reported a 43% rise in operational costs, although no formal tariff hikes have been announced.

The NCC has clarified that it has not authorized any increase in data tariffs. The commission highlights technical factors like automatic video play and app updates as potential causes for quick data depletion.

In a bid to assist consumers, the NCC has advised turning on data saver modes and managing app updates to conserve data.

To combat the issue, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have initiated a campaign to educate consumers on optimizing their data usage.

They recommend practices such as disabling automatic updates and closing unused apps.

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Telecom Giants Invest in Data Centers to Meet Soaring Internet Demand

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Nigeria’s telecommunications industry is experiencing a surge in data center investments as companies strive to accommodate the nation’s rapidly increasing internet consumption.

This move became imperative after a report by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) showed that monthly internet usage has skyrocketed by 502% since 2019.

Monthly internet usage grew from 125,149.86 terabytes (TB) in December 2019 to 753,388.77 TB in March 2024.

This dramatic increase is primarily driven by the growing appetite for streaming services and other online activities, necessitating a robust infrastructure to manage the escalating demand.

MTN Nigeria and Airtel, which together control 66.28% of the country’s mobile subscriber base, are at the forefront of this infrastructure expansion. Both companies have announced substantial investments in new data centers to enhance their service delivery capabilities.

MTN Nigeria’s Expansion

In June, MTN Nigeria unveiled plans to construct a 1,500-rack, Tier 4 data center. According to Mohammed Rufai, MTN’s Chief Technical Officer, this facility will be instrumental in meeting the burgeoning data demands and digital needs of businesses and consumers alike.

“Our facility will provide the space and services needed, enabling companies to digitalize their operations and improve efficiency,” Rufai said.

“With sufficient headroom, we can cater to growth and sudden demand rise, ensuring a seamless experience for our subscribers.”

Airtel’s Groundbreaking Initiative

In March, Airtel broke ground on its first data center in Lagos, marking the beginning of a major investment drive in digital infrastructure.

The Nxtra by Airtel data center will be the first of five hyper-scale data centers to be developed by Airtel Africa. These centers aim to improve the speed of access to digital services and reduce the cost of managing data.

Industry Significance

These investments are poised to significantly enhance Nigeria’s position in the digital economy. Bosun Tijani, the Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy Minister, emphasized the critical role of data in the country’s economic growth.

“Data is a key driver in our economy. Not only do we need to connect our people, but we also must invest in the digital economy. Through the investment that companies like Airtel have made in our economy, we are fully able to participate in the digital economy,” Tijani said.

Despite these efforts, Nigeria still lags behind other African countries such as South Africa and Kenya in terms of data center capacity. South Africa, for example, has attracted investments from global tech giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Oracle.

Future Prospects

According to a report by Arizton Advisory and Intelligence, Nigeria’s data center market, valued at $230 million in 2022, is expected to reach $415 million by 2028. Industry experts highlight a significant data center gap, with current infrastructure falling short of the necessary capacity.

Ayotunde Coker, CEO of Open Access Data Centers (OADC), noted, “We do not have enough data centres. Analysis shows we need around 700 data centres but only have about 100. However, we expect significant progress in the next 12 months, with new data centres being launched.”

Economic Impact

The development of new data centers is expected to localize more content from international companies, improving user experience and network efficiency. These investments will also contribute significantly to economic growth, making Lagos a key hub of digital infrastructure on the continent.

“Lagos is going to be the key hub of digital infrastructure in Africa. Right now, South Africa has 50 percent of installed data center capacity, but Lagos is starting to shift in the implementation of digital infrastructure,” Coker added.

With these strategic investments, Nigeria is well on its way to bolstering its digital economy, ensuring it remains competitive in the increasingly data-driven global landscape.

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MTN Nigeria Boosts Tax Contribution to N549.3bn, Expands Network Nationwide

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MTN Nigeria Communications Plc has announced a significant contribution of N549.3 billion in taxes and levies to the Nigerian government for the year 2023.

This milestone, detailed in the company’s 2023 Sustainability Report filed with the Nigeria Exchange Limited, underscores MTN Nigeria’s role as a key player in the nation’s economic and technological advancement.

The report highlights MTN Nigeria’s expansive growth in connectivity, reaching 79.7 million people and achieving a remarkable 92.9 percent nationwide coverage.

This expansion is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to bridge the digital divide and enhance communication infrastructure across Nigeria.

“We are proud of the progress we have made so far, expanding connectivity to 79.7 million people, achieving 92.9 percent nationwide coverage, and investing N2.6 billion in corporate social investment programs that have impacted over 58,000 lives through the MTN Foundation,” the telecom giant stated.

In addition to its tax contributions, MTN Nigeria’s capital expenditure rose to N571.0 billion in 2023, reflecting a 13.2 percent increase from the previous year.

This substantial investment was directed towards enhancing infrastructure and service delivery, reinforcing MTN’s commitment to improving customer experience and expanding digital solutions across the country.

Karl Toriola, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, expressed pride in the company’s progress and reaffirmed its commitment to sustainability and community impact.

“We remain steadfast in our pursuit of excellence and committed to continuously improving our sustainability practices while striving for an even greater impact in the communities we serve,” he said.

MTN Nigeria’s comprehensive approach to sustainability and growth is evident in its corporate social investment programs.

The MTN Foundation, which received N2.6 billion in funding, has positively affected over 58,000 lives through various initiatives aimed at education, health, and economic empowerment.

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