Editions 346 - 350

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CyberschuulNews 350

President orders a repeat of 2.3 GHz Auction


Newspapers reported during the week that President Yar Adua has directed that the auctioning process that led to controversy in a recent issuance of 2.3 GHz licenses to three bidders including Mobitel Nigeria Ltd (others are Spectranet Ltd and Multilinks Telkom Ltd) be discarded and repeated. Using 'The Nation' newspaper’s version of the report, Presidential spokesman, Segun Adeniyi released a statement to say President Yar’Adua’s directive was coming on the heels of careful appraisal of competent advice given on the matter. The paper quotes:

"Having carefully reviewed official reports and representations from stakeholders, and after availing himself of competent advice on the recent licensing of the 2.3 GHz Spectrum Band, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has come to the conclusion that the letters and spirit of the stipulated rules and guidelines were not adequately complied with.

"In furtherance of the Federal Government’s desire to assure all prospective investors of its commitment to the observance of due process and a level playing field, President Yar’Adua has directed that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) should initiate a fresh process for the award of the 2.3 GHz spectrum band licences.

"The President further directed that in performing its statutory function of awarding licences for the band through a fresh process, the NCC should make every possible effort to ensure that its actions are seen and perceived by all stakeholders to be open, transparent and fully in keeping with the requirements of due process and fair-play".



Twitter off (again)


The world woke up last week wondering why their favourite micro-blogging site had not been letting them share their daily routine with everyone else. The reason:  Twitter the website that lets people post updates through 140-character messages and President Obama’s favourite social networking site, had been temporarily taken offline after what the company believes is a co-ordinated attack.

According to the Twitter Blog, the site has been the victim of a ‘Denial of Service Attack’, which involved the company’s servers being flooded with data in order to disable them. Twitter went down on Thursday morning, with the geographic reach of the site’s downtime is unclear. It came back online for a lucky few but users, who expected things a bit quieter on Tuesday, had those expectations dashed because for the second time in five days hackers knocked the social networking site offline.

It was reported that nothing came from Twitter on Tuesday as the site fell victim to yet another "denial of service" attack, which overwhelmed its servers with bogus requests for information.


Twitter (along with Facebook and LiveJournal) was the target of a denial-of-service attack last week. In a blog entry, Twitter says the coordinated attacks appear to be geopolitical in nature. It alleged that hackers targeted an activist blogger from the former Soviet republic of Georgia by flooding the sites with requests, causing them to slow down or crash. The company alleged attack again by hackers, following a series of assaults that hobbled the site on Thursday. It says the slowdown experienced on Tuesday was due to defensive measures meant to nullify the attack and they were working on better solutions.

San Francisco-based Twitter said Tuesday on its blog, ‘We're back up and analysing the traffic data to determine the nature of this attack.’ It further says ‘Twitter continues improving system response such that inevitable denial-of-service attacks such as those we saw last week don't interfere with normal operations,"

Twitter had 20.1 million U.S. users in June according to research firm ComScore. That made it the third most popular social-networking site behind Facebook and News Corp.'s MySpace ranked first and second respectively.


A process, a ‘protest’, the law, and a Presidential directive

The report that President Yar Adua gave a final ruling on the controversy over the 2.3 GHz license award is a happy development. The President deserves a round of applause for this action, as it is clearly an improvement on his performance in the area of decision-making in recent times and especially from the observatory of telecommunications sector. It is trite waging the merits or otherwise of the decision but that a decision has been taken, irrespective of which direction, represents some sort of progress.

Point is that a bad decision is marginally better than no decision especially where investment and risk taking are involved. It has taken more than two months to reach this point and no doubt that some investors somewhere are breathing a sigh of a relief now. Those who are directly concerned can now sit down, re-plan their strategies and move on. This is as important in business, as it is in governance but especially in telecommunications business where the pace of change of technological advancement coupled with modern management dictate fast and effective decision making - a case of you snooze, you lose.

Of course people are entitled to various interpretations of the presidential directive especially regarding the part of the story that has been in public domain but kudos has to be given to the President that he has the duty to take a decision and he has discharged that duty albeit belatedly.

This should not be misconstrued to mean that it is correct to trample on the law for self justification (as it seems) but in the name of balance and given we are where we are, it is best the industry accepted the prevailing circumstances and moved on.

Begrudgingly, we should applaud for Mr. President for this growing change in the slow motion that we have almost become accustomed to.

With this, Mobitel or whoever else might be aggrieved will take decisions which in spite of the setback will protect further investment and the industry rolls on.

Destination: 2011. Insha Allah.


The Rise and Rise of Twitter


Abi Bilesanmi

In this technological age you may be surprised to find out not everyone is overjoyed. For this group of malcontents the enormous strides made in information exchange between peoples, its role in the realm of politics by this I am particularly referring to the role of social network sites in Barak Obama's historical presidential victory or indeed the infamous Iranian presidential elections of 12 June, is peripheral verging on irrelevant. For these modern day Luddites at a time when we are asking whether social networks are a force driving socio-political change or whether they pose a challenge to more established media as an effective means of disseminating information, their focus seem to lie elsewhere.

You know you are on to a winner when criticism emanates from established religion. Where such criticisms arise, you are almost guaranteed victory based on the illogicality, inflexibility and the dogma of your opponents. And so true to form, in the UK Archbishop Vincent Nichols - the Archbishop of Westminster, the head of the Catholic Church in England - in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph while decrying the loss of loyalty and the rise of individualism in British society which he said threatened to undermine communities (on which he happened to be right), decided to take a swipe at social network sites such as Facebook and MySpace as 'encouraging teenagers to view friendship as a "commodity" and are leading them to suicide'. He said the sites are leading teenagers to build "transient relationships" which leave them unable to cope when their social networks collapse. He said the internet and mobile phones were "dehumanising" community life and blamed social network sites for leaving children with impoverished friendships.

It is typical of religious ideologues to not just rail against things they do not understand, but to also throw the baby out with the bath water. The background to the Archbishop's swipe at social networking sites was the death of 15-year-old schoolgirl who took a fatal overdose of painkillers after being bullied on Bebo, another networking site. The Archbishop argues we are losing social skills, the human interaction skills, how to read a person's mood, to read their body language, how to be patient until the moment is right to make or press a point -

To argue as the Archbishop does that while social networking sites can improve communication, they do not build rounded communities, is to completely miss the point. Social network sites will not substitute but augment and complement social associations that people have family, school, work etc. Why let facts get in the way of a good rant? The fact that Facebook has more than a million developers and entrepreneurs from more than 180 countries; that every month, more than 70% of Facebook users engage with Platform applications; that more than 200 applications have more than one million monthly active users; or that more than 15,000 websites, devices and applications have implemented Facebook Connect since its general availability in December 2008. That the death of a 15 year old, tragic as it is, throws the impact of social networking sites into some kind of aberration, is laughable. It is a clear indication the Archbishop refuses to see social network sites beyond the individual. There is evidence to support that businesses in the US and the UK are using social media to build awareness and relationships between them and their respective markets. These businesses see social media as an ideal resource to further their brand in a meaningful, high-reach and low-cost manner.  They use tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and employee blogs and tweets to build awareness and affinity with the market.  

Contrary to the assertions of the Archbishop, we have a global social media platform for community building, collaboration and knowledge sharing.  This internal platform has resulted in the huge development of organic brand building, which has taken their newfound voices and confidence as spokespeople to the external social network airwaves.  

The Archbishop may not be on his own but the pace of technological pace carries own unabated regardless. In their annual ranking, Business 2.0 has compiled an unabashedly subjective list of people which they aptly named  '50 Who Matter Now' where they list people trends, and ideas that are transforming the world of business, they ranked In this illustrious list are Gina Bianchini CEO, Ning - a site which lets users create their own mini communities, complete with customisable layouts, profiles, blogs, videos, and ads branded the most exciting thing in social networking right now - 48; Evan Williams CEO Twitter - the site which gives each user a webpage, where short text updates (known as "tweets") can be posted to the site via IM, SMS, or blogging tools; and Mark Zuckerberg Founder and CEO, Facebook who at 19-year-old Harvard student when he launched a social-networking site called Facebook for the in-the-know college crowd. Three years later Facebook was the sixth most visited site on the Internet, with some 24 million active users and enough clout to turn down a reported billion-dollar buyout offer from Yahoo ranked 34.

Again contrary to the Archbishop's premonition of doom, Twitter CEO Evan Williams in recent BBC interview revealed that London is the top Twitter-using city in the world with the UK second to the US in Twitter use in terms of user numbers. Williams refutes the Archbishop claim that Twitter creates a false sense of community. He says "It's not false, it allows people to communicate and is no less false than using the phone." And as for the challenge Twitter poses to journalism, Williams says  "It's not necessarily journalism - certainly not in the classic case. But it does enable people to report news and events as they are happening. And often from the ground.’

"As we just saw in Iran, people on the streets reporting what was going on. It was newsworthy content that people were tweeting. There's also a lot of commentary about what is going on. But it doesn't take the place of journalists or new because you still need analysis, you still need verification of this information - but it adds another layer to the information ecosystem"

On the criticism by the Archbishop, Williams says 'It's kinda silly, "Anyone who says that isn't really familiar with the service because it's about humans connecting with each other. And often in ways that other ways couldn't have. It's the opposite of de-humanising."

When asked if Twitter just a fad, Williams replied: "The only reason Twitter could be a fad is if someone else comes along and does it better."



Cyberschuulnews 349

Mobile phone, Base Stations and Health Concerns is focus of Tuesday forum in Lagos 

Discussants drawn from a cross section of Mobile & Fixed Wireless operators and Mobile phone vendors will assemble at the   Restaurant in Lagos Tuesday August 11 to examine the issues of radiation from mobile phone systems and base stations.  Safety Standards, Infrastructure and Social issues will form the core of issue slated for discussion.

Top on the list of confirmed presenters include William Saad, MD/CEO of IHS Plc, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, Executive Vice Chairman NCC, Wale Goodluck, Corporate Services Executive of MTN, Thomas Barmueller, Director MMF, Belgium and Dr Abbas-salam of Dept of Radiotherapy, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan.

It is being organized by ITWorld International in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). 

 US cyber-security tsar steps down

The White House's acting cyber-security tsar Melissa Hathaway has resigned from her post, according to the Wall Street Journal.  She told the paper she was leaving for "personal reasons" and would return to the private sector.

The former strategist was appointed as acting national cyber-adviser in February and was expected to be offered the post on full time.  

Back in May, President Barack Obama in his proposals to secure cyberspace declared the nation's digital infrastructure was under grave threat from a range of adversaries and needs to be protected as a strategic national security asset.  The President went on to announce the creation of a cybersecurity coordinator role responsible for "orchestrating and integrating" all cybersecurity policies and the creation of a cyber-security office in the White House. The President  said he would personally appoint a "cyber-tsar"  Melissa Hathaway, a former Bush administration aide was appointed as acting senior director for cyberspace. In April she completed a review of cyber-security for the Obama administration.  

However, in recent years, US government and military bodies have reported attempts to infiltrate systems by hackers highlighted by the case of Gary McKinnon a 43-year-old British hacker who broke into 97 military and NASA computer systems claiming he was looking for evidence about UFOs currently fighting extradition to America for trial. 

Ms Hathaway was widely regarded as the person to fill that post after taking on the role as acting senior director for cyberspace for the National Security and Homeland Security Councils in February.

At the time, Ms Hathaway said the job ahead was "a marathon, not a sprint."

Her successor has not yet been named by the White House.  

Law Institute/NCC may cooperate

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in Abuja has indicted desire to collaborate with the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC to provide internship for students of its Centre for Media and Communications.

Director General of the Institute, Prof. Epiphany Azinge, SAN made the request at NCC when he visited the Commission during the week. The professor said NCC was the first non legal establishment his institute was visiting and he also invited the Commission to endow a chair in the Institute.

The Nigerian Communications Commission was established by Military decree in 1993, revised by an act of parliament in 2003 and regarded as having discharged its mandate under very commendable interpretation of the law that established it. 


Mobitel raises charges of ‘license haram’ against federal government 

Several newspapers reported during the week that Mobitel which has been at the centre of 2.3 GHz license impasse resorted to court action to stop the purported cancellation of a license it won recently. The company, according to reports, saw the purported cancellation as sinful and it wanted a court intervention to enforce its right to the license having been duly qualified to roll out services under Nigerian laws. 

A few analysts wonder if Mobitel’s action is not moot since checks at both the NCC and Ministry of Information and communications reveal that Mobitel's license which in any case was yet to be issued by NCC was not at any time cancelled. Truth was that the honourable Minister of Information and Communications ordered that the completed process which led to Mobitel’s merit for the license be cancelled. NCC, it was learnt, offered advice to the minister that she had no authority under the law to effect such cancellation without inviting litigation into the process. There was no report that the license award was ever cancelled but Mobitel must have gone to court to pre-empt such action if it was still being contemplated. 

Other analysts saw the impasse as a good interregnum for the fast growing industry since it presents a very good opportunity to test the National Communications Act which strengths and weaknesses have been very well documented. 

Officials at the two feuding seats of government must have been placed on order to stop discussing the issue while everyone waited for President Yar Adua who, it was learnt asked for opinion of the Federal Attorney general and Minister of Justice on the matter. In between, it became public knowledge that the petition on which the Minister of Information and Communications based her action was actually faked since the company whose name was associated with the petition announced publicly that it did not participate in the auction let alone wrote any petition. The Attorney general was also reported to have advised the President that the Minister’s directive could not be supported in law. 

The President might have been allowing time to solve the problem. With Mobitel in court, the matter may require decision, not time, to see it through.

 CyberschuulNews 348

NigeriaSat-2 goes up into space in 2010

The National Space Research & Development Agency, NARSDA, celebrated its 10th year anniversary during the week and hosted a session of technical presentations on a review of its decade of existence. Its director General, Dr. S. O Mohammed while speaking on ‘Contributions of space science & technology to sustainable development & economic growth in Nigeria’ said NigeriaSat-2 will launch into space in 2010 while the de-orbited Nigcomsat-1 will also return to space in 2011.


An Internet stressful week

 Nigeria’s heavy users of the internet found that it was a hassle using the resource during the past week. And words flew round that NITEL’s SAT-3 had been damaged, hence the impasse. But all that was a fluke. Nothing went wrong with SAT-3 to the extent of NITEL’s culpability but there were indeed some challenges to the SAT-3 submarine cable at Cotonou where a major backbone provider has intercepted the cable to provide service to its Nigerian customers. NCC gave the explanation in a Press Release (See Regulation below) and promised to keep tab on the development.


Broadband not broad enough in the UK.

Less than a week from Seacom going live with a submarine fibre optic cable system linking East and South Africa (Cyberschuulnews 347), the telecoms regulator in the UK (OFCOM), in its largest survey ever conducted, reported that not enough users are getting the speeds they are paying for. Contrary to the glossy brochures and ads of many ISPs who had signed subscribers on a promise of connection speeds of eight Megabit per second (Mbps), the survey revealed that early one fifth of UK broadband customers less than 2Mbps. 

The statistically viable survey which collected speed data from 1,600 users' connections UK wide between November 2008 and April of this year - amounting to some 60 million separate speed tests in all -

Reported that average connection speed across the UK is 4.1Mbps and that less than 9% of users received more than 6Mbps.

The comprehensive report in which Ofcom worked with Samknows- a broadband measurement firm- not only ranked the average speeds of nine major UK ISPs, with Virgin Media coming out on top - primarily because it operates in urban areas and uses high speed cable networks, it also ranked the UK a lowly 12th among the top 20 nations highest advertised broadband download speed with Japan coming out on top.

Charlie Ponsonby, Chief Executive of broadband comparison site Simplifydigital said 'the Ofcom study is important as it quantifies accurately for the first time what consumers have known for a long while - namely that you are extremely unlikely to receive the advertised broadband speed. Also for the first time it makes a robust, like-for-like comparison between broadband providers.'

Support for report and the methodology of the survey was by no means unanimous.  BT, who ranked lower in the survey, criticised the report saying said the sample size was too small and the results were "unreliable" (factually inaccurate as a sample size of about 1200 in the world of research is deemed statistically viable). It further argued that because it provided rural broadband (unlike Virgin's urban) its average speed was bound to be slower than other ISPs.

 ISPs on their part deemed the report disappointing as the research did not accurately reflect the full spectrum of the industry but rather narrowly focused on larger ISPs

However on the issue of subscribers not getting what they pay for, Peter Phillips from Ofcom said: 'It is critical that people are told when they're new customers what speeds they can reasonably expect.'

Nokia in Iran.
A Case of Connection and Disconnections

Whether in established democracies or in countries where there is a struggle to achieve the democracy, it would appear the issue for big business remains the same - the bottom line - money and profit. 

In Golnaz Esfandiari's report 'Nokia faces wrath of Iran's protesters'  he talks about  26-year-old Tehran resident Ehsan who is waging a crusade against the Finland based telecoms giant Nokia. He is mobilising support through friends and family for boycott of the company and products whom he accuses of aiding the Iranian government in its "crackdown against freedom" following the country's controversial presidential election on June 12.  

But before we brand this as the assertions of a crazed loner of Lee Harvey Oswald-esque leanings, the Wall Street Journal reported that in a collaborative venture between mobile phone companies Nokia and Siemens, they built a 'monitoring centre' within the Iranian government telecom monopoly used by the authorities to monitor and intercept web traffic thus making the telecoms giants complicit in the crackdown that ensued.  The Wall Street Journal article and indeed its assertions were quoted was cited by dozens of local US and other international media outlets including the BBC. Several social networking sites particularly Facebook have been catalysts giving the story 'legs' and have begun calling for a Nokia and Siemens product boycott.

The BBC also reported that Iranian government- well known for filtering the net - had moved to do the same for mobile phones. The report further stated Nokia and Siemens had confirmed it supplied Iran with the technology needed to monitor, control, and read local telephone calls. Not attempting to court Iranian public opinion with a denial, the telecoms giants told the BBC that it sold a product called the Monitoring Centre to Iran Telecom in the second half of 2008 and the system to Iran through its Intelligent Solutions business, which was sold in March 2009 to Perusa Partners Fund 1LP, a German investment firm.

Neither is Ehsan's claims the ranting of an ant. There is real and anecdotal evidence to support that the call to boycott Nokia and Siemen's products is gaining momentum among Iranians. Given the success of mobile telephony n the developing world. It would appear that the world's biggest player in the manufacture of mobile handsets has 'backed the wrong horse.'

In Iran where the flames of dissent are being fanned, the product allows authorities to monitor any communications across a network, including voice calls, text messaging, instant messages, and web traffic.

But Nokia Siemens says the product is only being used, in Iran, for the monitoring of local telephone calls on fixed and mobile lines. Rather than just block traffic, it is understood that the monitoring system can also interrogate data to see what information is being passed back and forth. Technology sure is not biased. The same people who brought the populace the hand held 'tool' of choice - the camera phone are the same ones who provide the government with "a standard architecture that the world's governments use for lawful intercept". 

And Nokia's slogan? 'Connecting people'. Indeed.


Competition. The Catalyst for Growth in East Africa's Telecoms
Abi Bilesanmi

­The notion of introducing competition in any industry, particularly in the developing world, has often been met with skepticism. This is because it customarily involved the government selling its stake in such industries often bought to foreign firms who subsequently become a monopoly because of economies of scale and financial muscle. However this notion is reported to have been turned on its head in the telecoms industry in East Africa. The leading markets in the region - Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with 10million subscribers, have all been test beds for competition and are adjudged to be the most liberal on the continent. 

Tanzania and Uganda have pooled resources in what is known as a unified licensing framework. This has encouraged operators to offer mobile broadband to their subscribers who are now several hundred thousand in number in each country and who now access the internet via their mobile phone. Opening up these market (Tanzania has issued seven mobile licenses and Uganda has issued six) with a multitude of operators has brought about in increased investment and marketing spend and this in turn has benefited consumers as the cost of owning and using a mobile phone has fallen 

Data gathered for a new report from Balancing Act - another source for information on the telecoms, internet and audio-visual media industries in Africa - reveal there have been a fall in mobile charges, opening the market to a wider number of users. In Kenya, for example, the cost of calls to other subscribers halved and the cost of sending SMS text messages to subscribers on another network fell by a fifth between the third quarter of 2007 and the final quarter of 2008.

In the less populous and more affluent Indian Ocean Islands of Seychelles, Mauritius, Mayotte and Djibouti which are renowned tourist destinations the effect of this liberalisation is more pronounced. With The Seacom international cable operational from 23 July 2009, the EASSy the fibre project due in 2010 and France Telecoms LION project that will connect various of the Indian Ocean islands into these new international cable awaiting approval, the mainland East African countries currently connected by satellite will see a large increase in international bandwidth used as prices come down his cheaper bandwidth price should lead to cheaper Internet prices for consumers.

 The sun is truly rising in the East



A situation where 20 Senior Executives of a Software Company board an airplane and are told that the flight that they are about to take is the first-ever to feature pilotless technology: It is an unmanned aircraft. Each one of the executives is then told, privately, that their own company's software is running the aircraft's automatic pilot system.

Nineteen of the Executives promptly leave the aircraft, each offering a different type of excuse.
One Executive alone remains on board the jet, seeming very calm indeed, and asks for the in-flight service to be served.
Asked why he is so confident in this first unmanned flight, he replies :

"If it is the same software that is developed by my company's IT systems department, this plane won't even take off." !!!!

That is called Confidence!!!


CyberschuulNews 347 

New Transatlantic Cable goes live

Thursday 23rd July 2009 the submarine fibre-optic project designed to encircle the African continent, connecting its coastal and hinterland countries as well as islands reached a remarkable milestone with the completion and commissioning of the phase which links South and East Africa to global networks via India and Europe.

SEACOM, a privately funded and over three quarter African owned company announced its 1,28 Terabytes per second (Tb/s), 17,000 kilometre, submarine fibre optic cable system linking Johannesburg, Nairobi and Kampala with work to commission the final links to Kigali and Addis Ababa to follow shortly.

Similar projects with potentials to provide cheaper internet access in the continent are in the pipeline. Two Nigerian Companies, Golbacom and MainOne Cable Company are known to be constructing similar infrastructure to link Nigeria with the world outside it.

In Nigeria, theft of mobile phones now gets a check

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, during the week flagged off a scheme to curtail the menace of mobile phone handset theft in Nigeria when its chairman, Alhaji Ahmed Joda commissioned a registry and anti-phone theft system for Mobile phones in the country.

The registry is to be maintained by Netvisa and the service is designed that a mobile phone which is reported stolen will be rendered useless as it cannot be connected to any telephone network in the country.

The service will be at no cost to the subscribers but subscribers are expected to register their 15 digit International Mobile Equipment identity (IMEI) numbers with the Central Equipment Identity Registry (CEIR) to be managed by Netvisa through which any mobile phone reported stolen will be blocked from all the networks.


The Office - Allegedly a Place of No Fixed Abode

Having not decisively delivered the 'paperless office' information technology moves the game up another notch in the quest for the 'office -less' office as internet companies are expanding their mobility portfolio in a bid to help businesses improve communication while simultaneously meeting the challenges posed by inefficiency. Long before the advent of the economic downturn and the ensuing drive to keep costs down, mobile working had become the norm as the business environment  dictated that quick and easy internet acces was essential for executives and employees to effectively manage workloads the working day regardless of where they were.

Mobility which allows roaming on 3G networks by providing fixed and wi-fi broadband network access, fully protected by corporate VPNs and firewalls and fully supported 24/7  is pretty expensive but back in May Easynet Global Services introduced the new Mobile Data service that will offer flat rate, unlimited Internet access via 3G networks helping business customers to increase their productivity away from the office . The Easynet Managed Mobility Portfolio, it is said, will now allow workers to easily and securely communicate whilst on the move, delivering significant cost savings and increased productivity

The devil, as always, in the detail.

The service is available in the UK, Netherlands, Sweden, China, Singapore, Japan and United States would be rolled out in Germany, France, Spain and Italy soon. 

Telecommunications: The rise and rise of India
Abi Bilesanmi

In the face of a global economic downturn the telecommunications industry remains relentless in harnessing the power and opportunities of information technology to drive productivity in anticipation of future economic growth via h the 3G and WiMAX spectrum auction. With the objective of providing an opportunity for telecoms experts - infrastructure, broadband solution and value added services providers, telecom operators- and investors to exchange views on a host of issues concerning the industry and opportunities for further growth, The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) under it’s Expert Communications Convergence Committee and in conjunction with India's Department of Telecommunications, Government of India held an annual Summit the “5th ASSOCHAM GLOBAL TELECOM SUMMIT” on Thursday 23rd & Friday 24th July, 2009 in New Delhi.

The Minister of State for Communication & Information Technology Shri Sachin Pilot, in attendance of big name partners such as Cisco, Intel, Ericsson inaugurated the Summit- with a lecture on “Boradband for Digital Democracy and Inclusive Growth” in which he said he hoped that the benefit of voice and broadband connectivity will be available on mobile handheld devices. The availability of these technologies, he argued will offer the convenience of mobility with rich multi media content of the internet.. He attributed this rapid growth to various proactive policies initiated by the Government with the active contribution of the industry India has become the second largest wireless network in the world after China with over 4.25 million mobile connections and huge growth in the sector had made India one of the most sought after telecom manufacturing destinations. Its rapid rise in mobile technology exemplifies blue-sky thinking matched with practical policies on the ground. Its Department of Telecommunication (DOT) has been able to provide state-of-the-art world-class infrastructure at globally competitive tariffs.

The telecoms industry has collaborated in the efforts of reducing the digital divide by extending connectivity to the unconnected areas thus improving accessibility to its citizenry. The result is that the teledensity which was merely 5% five years ago has now reached about 40%. Such increased accessibility in a population of 450million people implies phenomenal growth not just in Indian telecom industry sector but with ripple effect extending to the entire Indian economy of the country -something Titi Omo-Ettu in his July 14 essay 'Politics and reality of telephone subscriber registration in emerging markets' advocated should be replicated in Nigeria.

CyberschuulNews 346 

Nigeria’s Justice Minister clears air on Frequency Licensing
Anatomy of executive muscle flexing at the top 

Two credible newspapers reported last week that the Minister of Justice Mr. Michael Aondoakaa has, after a long wait for him to speak up, advised President Umar Yar' Adua that the Minister of Information and Communications’ directive to the phone regulator, NCC, to cancel a concluded auction process cannot have a support in law and should therefore be ignored. 

The papers quote Aondoakaa to have insisted that the "powers of the minister under the Wireless Telegraphy Act in so far as they relate to communications were vested in the NCC"

Although the verdict is not unexpected (A senior advocate had unambiguously given a point-to-point explanation of the law), industry analysts had waited for such formal intervention in an executive muscle flexing which sprang up in the telecommunications industry in the past few months. A Minister of cabinet rank gave a directive to an independent Commission for telephone regulation to discard its (the regulator’s) decision on a completed auction process and the regulator advised the Minister to either withdraw his directive or re-issue it since it did not have a place in law. The Minister went talking instead of re-issuing the directive. 

Although the important issue in the disagreement should have been the rare opportunity presented to test the law, Nigerians were made to be entertained by the personal altercations arising for the impasse. In Nigeria, personalities count sometimes more than society and mis-rulers are oftentimes allowed to go away with crass illegality with attendant damage to life , property and, especially, investment. 

The story goes beyond the immediate issue and Nigerians know it hence the high decibels of its entertainment value. It became an entertainment-rich news item which some reporters played up as though it would adversely affect industry fortunes. Analysts, on the other hand, felt it was good for the industry that such actions that may otherwise test the laws are infact good for the industry to thrive. 

With the Justice Minister’s intervention, the matter, in terms of real issues, may have been laid to rest. 

The remaining is history which will be told another day.


Kenya gets a call for Number Portability 

The new CEO of Telkom Kenya has called on the regulatory authorities of Kenya to consider number portability as one option of improving telecom service delivery. Mickael Ghossein who until he was recently named the big boss at Telkom Kenya served as Chief Executive Officer of Jordan Telecom Group argues that number portability will give phone users a wide choice and put operators on check to enhance good quality service. 

Kenya's phone authority, CCK, may turn a deaf ear since it has indicated it would wait till all operators endorse the move. That may be waiting for ever. 

It is not usual for operators to sleep with the idea of number portability but they may not have a choice to make where the authorities make up their mind to go ahead. In such circumstance, a wait for their acquiescence hastens implementation and reduces bottleneck arising from forced intervention. 

In Nigeria, the authorities invited operators to discuss number portability in 2007 followed it up with a document on its intension to implement in 2008 and recently invited consultants to support its effort in executing a phasal implementation of Mobile Number Portability.  

Internetiquette goes to Airspace 

Now that USA airlines are perfecting provision of online browsing while airborne, AirTran airways has provided its passengers with internetiquette - a guide on how to behave with decorum on-line. AirTran is reported to have internet available on all its 136 aircrafts now and every seat pocket in the passengers’ cabin has been equipped with the literature. 

It is believed that provision of Wi-fi on line is a potentially good perk especially if the economic downturn makes flying passengers reduce in number. Chances are that internet savvy businessmen will always have to fly and to save time by working as they fly. Delta, Northwest, American, are some airlines which are known to have implemented Wi-fi on flight and at different stages of covering their fleet in America. 

Short of at take off and during landing it can be business as usual for top executives when they fly. 

Great phones are still emerging

Sony Ericson and AT&T have worked together to put two phones which offer ultimate photography and social networking experiences in the market. They are: Sony Ericsson C905a Cyber-shot(TM) and the W518a Walkman(TM). With 8.1 megapixel camera, the highest resolution ever in a phone from AT&T, and advanced features such as face detection, autofocus, xenon flash and GPS tagging, the C905a Cyber- shot(TM) camera phone helps photo enthusiasts simplify their lives by using the device to capture moments on the go while also taking advantage of the latest wireless services on the fastest 3G network where available. The W518a Walkman(TM) phone, on the other hand is the total package in personalized entertainment, revealing a new way to use Facebook(R), conversational messaging, highly interactive music features, and a 3.2 megapixel camera.  


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