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Broadband for Nigeria Forum for Abuja June 28

 Word came out of the ICT Forum of Partnership Institutions which has been championing the production of a Framework for Nigeria’s broadband initiative that it is now ready to put a draft document out for stakeholders input and ratification.

 

According to Dr Ibrahim Aminu, Convenor of the forum, the aim is to produce a Framework Document that will guide the provision of broadband internet access to all Nigerians. This document will then be presented to the Federal Government of Nigeria and key stakeholder groups for inclusion in relevant policies and to guide broadband implementation. Towards that end, the project has received some support from the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA) through the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) of South Africa, to initiate the process and convene a Stakeholders’ Forum.

 

There has also been support to the initiative from Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Fantsuam Foundation, and Telecom Answers Associates.

 

Known as the BB4NG Project, the stakeholders invited to contribute to the work include consumer advocacy groups, internet service and infrastructure providers, regional and national regulators, National Government Institutions and Agencies, Regional Governmental Institutions, multilateral institutions, donor organizations, financial institutions, civil society, telecom operators, submarine fibre consortia, research and education institutions, libraries and library associations, the armed forces, and the general public.

 

 

NIGCOMSAT-1 Replacement at quarter-to-go

 The Managing Director of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT), Mr. Ahmed Rufai has said that the replacement to NIGCOMSAT 1, which malfunctioned in 2008 and had to be de-orbited, was presently at 60 percent completion, and would be ready for launch in 2011.

 

Minister of Science and Technology Professor Mohammed Abubakar, commended the fact that the new ground station antennae was assembled entirely by Nigerian technicians, and expressed the wish that someday in the near future, Nigeria will be able to launch its satellites from its own territory. NIGCOMSAT is to be re-launched in China, where it was assembled.

 

The Honorable Minister further announced during his visit to the NIGCOMSAT offices, that Nigeria will be putting two earth observation satellites in orbit later in the year, in October. "The cumulative benefits of domesticating the production of these research and development products include increased job creation, faster economic growth, enhanced export and GDP, while conserving foreign exchange.”

 

Intel refutes scaling back on WiMAX

In response to a report fresh out of Taiwan, the chipmaker Intel - a strong player at the forefront of expanding global connectivity -has denied it is scaling back its commitment to the WiMax wireless standard by shutting the office it had set up to promote the development of WiMAX-related technologies.

Intel says on the contrary it is working towards further expansion and support of WiMAX through technology advancements providing great coverage and reliable connectivity while consuming minimal power.  It said people who use the technology and its super-fast and wide coverage are loving the new norm it creates in socializing, entertaining and communicating on its laptops and other devices

The company also refutes the report that it has shut down its 4G WiMAX Program office and is backing off the standard saying that WiMax has evolved since the office was set up and the re-organisation in the company is nothing unusual. It says it has a handful of them around the corporation and by definition, these offices are temporary. The claim they set up these offices to support WiFi, but are dissolved once the technology had matured.

Intel spokesman Bill Kircos said in a blog post, ‘The mission of getting WiMax off the ground and in the market is accomplished. The folks working in the program office merely are being housed under our existing Intel business groups.’

There are 500 WiMax networks in 147 countries as it continues to expand and could cover as 800M potential users by the end of the year. Nigeria’s inaugural WiMAX forum 2010 hosted by Telecoms Answers Associates took place in Lagos on June 15 2010.

 

Blackberry maker takes a slight hit on first quarter results

 

Contrary to popular perception that almost everyone owns a Blackberry, its makers Research in Motion (RIM) announced lower than expected first quarter results today.  In its first quarter ending 29 May.

While the numbers may appear pretty impressive, (earnings per share increased 41% on the same period in 2009, to $1.38, and quarterly profit was up 19% to $769m) the announcement precipitated a small hit on its stock value down 1.8% in New York for missing Wall Street's expectations slightly. Investors attributed this at least in part to the timing of the Blackberry Bold 9650 and Pearl 3G rollouts, which happened a little later than RIM had initially planned due to a slight delay in testing and approval.

RIM's share of the worldwide smartphone market in the first quarter fell to 19.4%, from 20.6% a year earlier. Though its reported first-quarter sales grew The slightly less-than-expected figure comes sharper into focus when one does a comparative analysis with Apple whose share in the first quarter rose to 15.4% from 10.5%, according to Gartner. The number of new subscribers was also at the bottom end of RIM's estimate of between 4.9 million and 5.2 million, in contrast to rival Apple, which said it took a record 600,000 orders for its iPhone 4 on the first day.

RIM's Co-CEO Jim Balsillie, clearly happy about their adoption in international markets, which now constitutes some 40% of their growth, seemed very optimistic about RIM's opportunities in the future. He iterated that RIM has a lot of good things coming (including some surprises) and they will work hard to keep innovating and to execute.

 

 

Regulator, Operators get orders of Minister
 

At a gathering which included top executives of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Nigerian Lottery Regulatory Commission, representatives of telephone operators and the media in Abuja on Thursday, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communications, Prof Dora Akunyili, read out what can best be described as a list of demands to which the industry must conform or else ….

 

 

Issues in contention include quality of service, SIM Card Registration, telephone tariff, Number portability, promotional lotteries, telephone masts, consumer education and convergence.

 

The Minister charged that telephone operators were flouting the orders of government on its direction on each of the issues and warned them to desist. She read out a four page text which left orders for the NCC to submit within two weeks, a plan of action on implementation modalities on her directives. She wanted implementation completed in six months.

 

Please click here to access the Minister’s address.

Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, President, Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, who spoke on behalf of telephone operators, expressed the respect of telephone operators to the laws of the land by agreeing with all the concerns expressed by the minister in her speech. According to him ‘No sensible person nor a responsible investor would have anything to quarrel with in the spirit behind the honourable ministers concerns since it is desired at ensuring a good and improved market for all of us‘

 

He however expressed surprise at the Ministers observation since there was no reason to suggest that any of the laws of the land or any Directions of the regulator had been flouted or resisted. He admonished the Minister to evoke sanction on any erring operators who broke the laws. He pledged the continued effort of industry players to make the quality of service better than what it was.

 

The Minister got it all wrong - ATCON
 

Shortly after the meeting of the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof Dora Akunyili, with telephone operators on Thursday, newshounds had a full interview with Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, President of ATCON.

 

Mr. Omo-Ettu said his members would respect the orders of the minister by carrying them out and keeping to the laws of the land. ‘Her concern is about protecting our investments and making sure that telephone consumers get value for their money. That is good and that is also what we want. The Minister may have however got her facts wrong because there was no basis for her allegations and choice of words’

 

He gave several examples of how a little more of listening and communication would help the industry to continue to run well. ‘If you have 78 million SIM cards to register God helps you if you are able to do 1 million registrations in 1 week. If you are able to register 1 million in one week, then you require 78 weeks to get through it. So if somebody tells you you must complete it in 3 months does it not make sense you request that person to kindly listen to you?’

 

He also debunked the argument that operators are not co-locating. ‘Of course they are co-locating. Not less than 13 firms have been licensed by NCC for co-location and a few of them are known to be doing very good business. How could they have been doing well if nobody is co-locating?’ he asked.

 

A reporter also asked ‘if they are co-locating then why is tariff not coming down (sic)”

 

He replied ‘A child abuses the Iroko Tree and expects to be struck by the Iroko immediately. It takes time for the Iroko Tree to strike. And in any case who ever said that co-location is a panacea for all our tariff problems?  Tariff is already being skillfully addressed by NCC which issued an interconnect rate review early in the year. I do not know about you but I have a habit of paying about N22,000 per month from two telephones. In the last three months my average call charge per month had reduced to about N15,000 from one telephone. You want to know why? One of the two operators I took service from made it happen taking advantage of the interconnect rate which NCC prescribed. If however you were expecting the call rate per minute to reduce from its present level to N10, then you will wait a little longer while we all do a little better. These things do not come by wishful thinking. They are managed to happen’

 

 

There is always Something New in CyberschuulNews – Engr. Ernest Ndukwe  

 

Telecoms Answers Associates, a Lagos based telecommunication consulting firm, launched a Compendium of Nigeria’s Telecommunications Industry and Its players, on Wednesday in Lagos.

 

It is a 100 page document that provides a networking data for Nigerian telecommunication players, recounts the development of the telecoms industry in Nigeria, and has a list of the major players, and their activity profile. The event, which was day 2 of the WiMAXForum 2010 held at the Lagoon restaurant in Victoria Island, Lagos, was also venue of the formal launch and presentation of a commercial service of Cyberschuulnews.com, a telecoms’ news and business research website.
 

Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, the immediate past Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, described the Compendium as a necessary addition to the transformational efforts in the industry. ‘I think this Compendium is a very important publication, a very important research material for the industry.’
 

Mr Titi Omo-Ettu, an engineer and Managing Partner of Telecom Answers Associates said that the Compendium and the revamped Cyberschuulnews.com, provide exhaustive business and research information designed to make it easy for investors to conduct investigation and obtain information about opportunities in the Nigerian telecom industry.
 

For his part, Engr. Ndukwe said: ‘I'm a regular reader of CyberschuulNews. There is always something new.... they change the appearance or the presentation. In a fast evolving industry like ours, it’s rare to find someone who keeps coming up with new things.’
 

The former NCC boss recounted the early and difficult development of the NCC from its establishment by Engr. Olawale Ige, as Minister of Communications, Engr. Vincent Maduka who did the initial ground work to establish NCC and the first EVC, Engr. Cletus Iromantu. He thanked the organizers of the forum for acknowledging the efforts of these pioneers.
 

Engr. Ndukwe, Engr. Ige, and representatives of Engrs Iromantu and Vincent Maduka, received awards as Heroes of Nigeria’s Telecommunications Industry from Telecom Answers Associates.

Mobile Banking Will Double by 2012 – Study Report
 

The number of people using mobile banking services via SMS and mobile browser applications is set to reach 400million globally in the year 2012, double its present figure today. A new study by Juniper Research, ‘Mobile Banking Strategies: Applications, Opportunities & Markets 2010-2015’ has forecast steady increase in user uptake of mobile banking services, and in individual and gross transaction volumes over the projected period. The spread of mobile and SMS-based banking services will occur in every economic region, but with the most significant increase in number of users predicted to be in the Far East and China especially.

The study, which surveyed the mobile banking deployments and strategies adopted by 77 banks from all over the world, as well as 21 mobile banking service vendors found that there is little resistance to the technology’s adoption, as most banks seek new and increased service options for their customers, and mobile banking had become a ‘must have’ medium.

Over 80% of banks have some form of mobile banking service, according to the report. A significant future growth driver will be the need for more and more customers to view their account balance on the move.

 

Ofcom consults on net neutrality
 

The UK Communications regulator Ofcom worried that network operators and ISPs could engage in anti-competitive behaviour and suppress or degrade some content from providers is putting the issue of on internet traffic management out for consultation.

The move reflects the fact that network operators face massive growth in data traffic with the proliferation of smartphones which has seen an astronomical increase in the volume leading to congestion in networks. The fear is that as operators try to standardise a better service, they would establish a hierarchy in data traffic in which they could be distinguished, treated and possibly priced differently.

Such a hierarchical structure contravenes basic principle of the internet neutrality i.e. net is neutral in terms of the way it treats traffic, and internet service providers and network operators are mere modes of transportation and therefore  can and should not make a distinction in what is trafficked. Net neutrality advocates argue that discrimination in traffic management by network operators and ISPs could not only harm economic competitiveness and growth but represents an affront to free speech and other fundamental rights freedoms.

As the mobile network operator O2's plan to cap data traffic on its network, Ofcom's consultation calls for comment on traffic management techniques that allow network operators and ISPs to handle traffic more efficiently, to prioritise traffic by type, to guarantee bandwidth and to block or degrade the quality of some content..

Ofcom’s CEO Ed Richards acknowledging the increasing centrality in to modern life said, "At the heart of this discussion is how to ensure that traffic management practices are transparent and how to ensure that traffic management is not used for anti-competitive discrimination," he said.

The consultation process is expected to end on 9 September 2010.

 

 

MLF to remain UK Digital Champion
 


The government announced this week that Martha Lane Fox will continue in her role as UK Digital Champion. Ms Lane Fox is one of the trailblazers of the internet age, co-founded Lastminute.com in 1997. Her high-profile appointment is part of the government’s efforts to get the 17 million people in the UK who do not have access to the internet or other digital technologies online.

The sentiment behind this development i.e. the pledge that government will continue to fund her work to get more people online in the UK appears to be at odds with the prevailing situation where many projects are coming under review and IT programmes are in the firing line of cuts particularly when at the time of Ms Fox appointment, digital exclusion had been officially recognised by the government not just as a factor in social exclusion but a root cause.

As well as encouraging online engagement Lane Fox is focusing on improving the convenience of public services by helping to drive online delivery. She will also sit on the Efficiency Board, under the auspices of the Cabinet Office where her job will involve

  • Continuing the Race Online 2012 campaign, which she founded, to encourage as many people as possible to get online.
  • Advising the Government on how efficiencies can be best realised through the online delivery of public services; and
  • Leading work to drive efficiencies through the greater use of online services across government, including the transformation of Directgov - the government’s new and comprehensive website.

This will be chaired by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude

Lane Fox said, "Whilst helping to bridge the digital divide is hugely important in its own right, there are also compelling economic reasons why we need to get everyone online. For example the Government could save millions of pounds each year simply by doing transactions online rather than on paper or over the phone."

She knows a thing or two about business implications because having sold the last of the shares in 2004 for £4.6m, she also holds non-executive directorships at Marks & Spencers and Channel 4.

 

NCC bars lotteries by telecom operators

The Nigerian Communications Commission yesterday in Abuja directed telecom operators in the country to stop further lottery related activities and to desist from charging premium rates for non premium services.

The Commission said this directive is premised on its statutory responsibility to protect the interests of consumers against unfair practices and consequent upon incessant complaints received from various stakeholders about telecom operators engaging in lottery activities and unsolicited SMS.

“Sending of SMS prompting telecom subscribers to participate in lotteries is suspended until further notice”, the Commission said in a statement.

The Commission said while promotions are allowed under the guidelines already published by the Commission with set minimum requirements and standards of advertisements and promotions, lotteries are excluded from such activities.

It said “promotions as defined in the guidelines do not include lotteries where the consumer does not receive commensurate service or value for money spent”.

The Commission invites the Nigerian public; and the operators to henceforth be guided accordingly as follows:
1. All promotions carried on by telecom operators must be in accordance with the Guidelines on Advertisements and Promotions published by the Commission.

2. No Telecom Operator is allowed to carry-out any lottery activity as defined above under the License issued by the Commission

3. Operators are also advised to take due care in the timing, frequency and content of their multi-cast messages to subscribers to reduce nuisance associated with these messages.

4. Sending of SMS prompting telecom subscribers to participate in lotteries is suspended until further notice.

5. Operators should desist from charging premium rates for non-premium services.

The Commission then directed that “all network operators are to ensure strict compliance with this Notice, as appropriate sanctions in accordance with the Act and the Enforcement Regulations, 2005 shall be applied to erring operators”.

 

ATCON reacts to NCC’s Ban
 

President of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu said in Abuja on Thursday that although the ban on lotteries by NCC is an understandable intervention, telecom operators committed no illegality in their promotional campaigns.

 

According to him "what the operators do is not illegal as far as I am concerned. It is exploitative alright but it only means the consumers are either ignorant or gullible or both. It is fine to cub them but it is no big deal really, come to think of it. What we should do is to educate the consumers better and govern properly. Our governments would require leading Nigerians into believing that only hard work and nothing else can make them prosper in life. If government is run as if it is possible to become rich overnight without working hard, then the people will continue to fall into the wrong hands of fraudsters which come in various forms"

 

FCC inches closer to regulating internet transmission

Having been to court to re-establish its authority, the US regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has inched towards giving itself the authority to regulate the transmission component of broadband Internet service.

The Commission voted to move toward the decision to regulate following the ruling by a US federal appeals court back in April that the regulator had exceeded its authority in asking cable network provider Comcast to stop throttling BitTorrent peer-to-peer file-sharing traffic.

 Content providers including big players like Google, Amazon have been pushing for net neutrality regulations that will prevent telecoms firms from favouring or discriminating against certain types of content.

According to an article in the New York Times, the FCC argues that the additional power is central to expanding the availability of broadband in the US, To do so, the FCC must seek public consent on its proposal to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service and whether to opt for keeping regulation as it is, imposing a full telecommunications regulatory regime, or applying limited regulation. The FCC has promised that if it wins approval for the reclassification, it will apply only regulations necessary to implement a universal, competitive service and protect consumers.

Supporters of the FCC proposals  such as the Open Internet Coalition has thrown its weight behind greater regulation saying the move would ensure that consumer choice and innovation on the broadband internet will receive the protections it requires. However opponents say the reclassification will give the FCC the power to regulate rates charged to consumers by broadband service providers. Of these AT&T has openly criticised the FCC proposal, saying it creates investment uncertainty and could cost jobs.

The FCC is pushing for the third option – mid point between excessive and too light touch regulation with a lack of protection for competition and consumers. 

 

How to Live in a Converging World

Professor Raymond Akwule, President of the Digital Bridge Institute has restated the importance of concluding regulatory unification in the communications industry. Delivering a lead paper at the Wimax Forum 2010 in Lagos during the week, Prof Akwule noted that with increasing convergence of technologies and service providers, regulatory bodies will also, perhaps more than industry players, need to converge as well. Nigeria is only in the early stage of accomplishing this.

The proposed unification of the functions of the NCC and the NBC was the subject of mild controversy last year, but industry players at the forum all agreed on the need to accomplish this, to streamline the allocation of broadcast and telecommunications frequency spectrums. ‘We live in a converging world but our regulatory institutions are very unconverged,’ the Professor observed. He ran through the emerging responsibilities the NCC will be faced with via the adoption of Next Generation Networks like Wimax and LTE, including, very importantly, social objectives like interoperability and quality of service.

Prof Akwule also asserted that regulation in Nigeria has been transparent from both perspectives of reality and investor perception. He admonished that contributions to universal service funds should respect the trend towards convergence of networks and services, just as he also suggested that the manner of the funding be reviewed.

 

UK taxpayers pay over the odds for government IT services

To buttress the case for cuts in UK government spending on IT, Compass, a consultancy that benchmarks the cost of IT in major government departments has revealed that UK taxpayers are paying up to £6bn a year too much for IT outsourcing services.

In a comparative analysis with the costs of running IT in departments and agencies in the private sector, Compass Management Consulting said found the £6bn discrepancy when it looked at  the cost of IT outsourcing contracts within central government over the past five years .

A government report last year put the total cost of public sector IT at between £12.5bn and £18.5bn a year of which Compass estimates that most of the IT spend is paid to suppliers of outsourcing services - about £14bn .

 Gary Bettis, Compass's UK president, says the public sector is paying 40% or more above the market rate for outsourced services. It could cut £6bn a year from the cost of IT outsourced services without damaging the frontline, He said that up to £6bn a year is spent unnecessarily, in part because value-for-money initiatives are "far too timid",

Bettis says that if radical changes are supported by permanent secretaries and ministers, the datacentres and IT infrastructures of departments could be brought together rather than each department has separate IT systems and datacentres. He singled out the Department for Work and Pensions DWP as an example of how it can be done. Bettis cited a recent of IT-based efficiency  programme he was involved in that cut IT-related costs by £1.4bn between 2005 and 2010 reducing five datacentres to two, cut about 1,000 staff and standardised 140,000 desktop systems across different parts of the DWP.

Compass also argues that poor management of suppliers and contracts leads to large extra charges from IT outsourcing companies.

He adds: "Standardisation reduces costs dramatically by allowing service providers to deliver economies of scale as they deliver utility IT services to a range of clients using the same delivery infrastructure."

He may face a battle with permanent secretaries and public sector unions who may resist a merger with other departments, or try to protect jobs, but in the current climate, he sure will have the ear of the government.

 

Global push for Broadband access  

In USA…. 

Microsoft, Intel and Google in collaboration with major Internet Service Providers have created a broadband technical advisory group to offer an engineering perspective on issues associated with broadband networks. The group will be headed by Dale Hatfield, an adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a former FCC employee. 

Also in Nigeria… 

Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), says it is already in discussion with notable Internet Service Providers and the Association of Internet Service Providers of Nigeria (ISPAN), on practical ways of supporting them to take full advantage of emerging broadband resources in the market. ATCON’s President Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, confirmed ATCON will broker support for all its sector associations in key areas such as skills development, financing and management.

 

In a statement, Titi Omo-Ettu said ‘Yes, we are focused on the developing business of all companies affiliated with our industry even non-members. ISPAN is a significant sector associate on whose behalf we will be soliciting and delivering support which will be critical for members’ business development and growth.’   

 

OAU Students' “Brain Media” for Microsoft Imagine Cup Finals 

Three students of Obafemi Awolowo University Technology have emerged national finalists in this year’s Microsoft Imagine Cup. They will now represent Nigeria at the world finals to be held in Poland later in the year. Team Indwell made up of three 400 level students of the university’s Faculty of Technology emerged overall winners for their software called Brain Media - an application that links students, teachers and researchers from different parts of the world over the internet enabling them to share information and educational resources such as textbooks and journals. 

Other prize-winning ideas from local participating teams include a computerised food management and stockpiling scheme and an environmental management and emissions monitoring system. Each team was allowed a 25-minute presentation of their concept and its application which formed the basis on which their ideas were vetted and judged.

 

145 undergraduates from around the world registered for the challenge in this event’s 8th year. The Microsoft Imagine Cup is aimed at challenging and inspiring innovation in ICT and technology students.   

 

Digital Economy Act: Don’t believe the hype
 

If a politician’s word is his bond, then we can expect to see the first hairline fracture in the new coalition government. The source of this potential showdown is the controversial Digital Economy Act which a spokesman for Jeremy Hunt, the new minister for Culture Olympics, Media and Sport, said this week will not be repealed hence no prospect of a mutiny amongst the ranks

 

But in politics, no one’s word is their bond. In a clear case of an asymmetry between what politicians say in opposition and what they do in power, the Conservatives who despite in opposition made derogatory comments about the Bill at the debating stage, helped previous Labour government get it through in less than two hours. Now in power, they have now decided not to repeal any part of the controversial bill.

 

The Liberal Democrats the smaller partner in the new coalition in a previous life said they will take “all possible steps” to repeal controversial aspects of the Act. In a statement during emergency conference called an shortly before ratifying the newly formed coalition with the Conservative Party, it said,  “Conference urges Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs to take all possible steps to ensure the repeal of those sections of the Digital Economy Act 2010 which are inconsistent with policy motion freedom, creativity and the internet as passed at Spring Conference 2010,” said the statement.

 

The leader of the party – and now Deputy Prime Minister – Nick Clegg said before the General Election that, were his party to get in power they would repeal the Act. He told a student website, “We did our best to prevent the Digital Economy Bill being rushed through at the last moment. It badly needed more debate and amendment, and we are extremely worried that it will now lead to completely innocent people having their internet connections cut off."

 

He added: "It was far too heavily weighted in favour of the big corporations and those who are worried about too much information becoming available. It badly needs to be repealed, and the issues revisited."

 

The Act which essentially was a hatchet job rushed through parliament in the dying days of the last government, at the end of the last government has been roundly condemned as ‘an abuse of the parliamentary process’.

 

Well that has changed now. 

 

Its handbags between Apple and Microsoft

 

To most in the industry, it is unsurprising that Microsoft have an underwhelming if begrudging perception of Apple and their products.  In what one can describe as response to hostility from Microsoft, and coinciding with an upturn in Apple’s sales which recently surpassed Microsoft in stock market value, Chief Executive Steve Jobs predicted that personal computers running Microsoft's Windows operating system are in a permanent decline.

 

Speaking at the D:All Things Digital conference in Los Angeles , Jobs,  referring to the rapid spread of smartphones and other internet-connected devices, such Apple's newly-launched iPad, said Windows computers would decline in popularity as people used other means to connect to the internet, consume content and work. He also cited security issues, poor battery life and difficulty in use as drawbacks to the PC laptop as reasons for his assertion.

 

His premonition has been met with support from executives and other technology and entertainment companies, according to the Financial Times – executives such as Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation, who said he had stopped using a laptop in favour of an Apple iPad and a BlackBerry

 

As far back as 2007 Microsoft Steve Ballmer Microsoft’s CEO  had been ‘hating’ on the iPhone. Back then he called the iPhone ‘by far the most expensive phone in the marketplace’, which is of course not even true. He also called the iPhone ’not suitable for business purposes’, given its lack of keyboard, 3G at the time but which Apple went on to introduce successfully

 

If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, Apple reporting a second fiscal quarter revenue of $13.5bn and net quarterly profit of $3.07bn for 2010, a 90% increase - an impressive 33% and astounding 131%increase in Apple Macs and iPhone sales respectively , compared with the year before suggest they must be doing something right

 

Sales of Apple's iPad have continued to exceed expectations, with the company reporting more than 2million in just under two months since the product was launched. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said there was no fundamental difference between Apple's hot-selling iPad tablet and the workaday, Windows-powered personal computers produced by his company. In a dig at the iPad's limited functionality, Ballmer said not all "PCs" are created equal. "A guy tried to take notes on one in a meeting with me yesterday—that was fun," said Ballmer. "The meeting didn't go very fast," he quipped.

 

Asked if he considers the iPad a PC, Ballmer said, "Of course it is!"

 

Quite. Perhaps the words, green, eye and envy rapidly spring to mind

IT feels the chill of UK government cuts

No sooner had the members of the new UK coalition government taken their ministerial seats, the much anticipated icy wind of expenditure cuts have begun blowing and it appears that IT will feel the chill of this gusty wind. In a statement this week the Chancellor George Osborne announcing plans to cut £6.2bn of what he calls "wasteful spending" to start to reduce the budget deficit, the government aims to cut £95m from its IT spending. The Chancellor in his speech said that the savings will include "nearly £2bn from IT programmes, suppliers and property"

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws explaining the proposed cuts said, ‘These are only the first steps which we will need to take in order to put our public finances back in shape’

The Treasury and Cabinet Office has  set up a  new group, the Efficiency and Reform Group, discharged with the responsibility to ‘make sure departments work together to tackle waste and improve accountability across a range of areas, including ICT spend and procurement’ . It will enforce spending cuts across Whitehall and  to this end, it has  imposed an immediate freeze on all new IT spending above £1m, and will review the biggest IT projects being set up to see which can be stopped.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said, ‘We have got to get an immediate grip on Whitehall waste if we are going to tackle this unprecedented £156bn deficit quickly. By joining forces and concentrating our efforts where the money actually gets spent, we can make sure the maximum amount gets taken out of government overheads.’

Indeed. Everyone dress warm

Highest sales record for mobile pc’s

The sale of mobile computers, primarily laptops, netbooks and tablets, rose to their highest level globally since 2002, having risen in the second quarter of 2010 by 43.4%. In a report credited to Gartner Technology Business Research, 49.4million units of devices in the category were purchased, mostly in the consumer market, as distinguished from professional corporate buyers.

Consumer purchases were largely driven by the popularity of new niche devices like “Netbooks”, lighter, smaller-screened cheaper versions of the regular notebook computer, which were very popular at the height of the economic meltdown as buyers sought cheaper alternatives. Other increasingly popular categories of goods like tablets specialised for web surfing and social networking also raised the share of non-core computer sales in the statistics.

The report found that HP remains the biggest manufacturer of mobile PCs, followed by Acer Computer, with Dell in third place.

Young entrepreneurs get mentorship in Lagos 

Upcoming InfoTech professionals with an affinity and aptitude for business were introduced to the resources of mobile web systems at the University of Lagos over the weekend. Attendees were part of the considerable number of enthusiasts who are preparing themselves for the explosion of internet access at broadband level taking advantage of the imminent reality of  domestic traffic assimilated into Glo1 and MainOne fibres. 

The session hosted under the Barcamp Nigeria initiative was facilitated by industry specialists who made presentations on various aspects of the emerging technologies, standard and businesses. 

Mr.  Nyimbi Odero, Google's Office Lead in Nigeria discussed opportunities while Simdul Shagaya, proprietor the alarena.com initiative took on business prospects inherent in the mobile technologies.

Other guest speakers include Chinenye Mba-Ozoukwo of eShekels and Titi Omo-Ettu, President, Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria, ATCON.

MainOne’s phase 1 now ready in Lagos 

Opinion of leading industry analysts appear to coalesce around the possible explosion of web related businesses with the reality that Globacom's Glo1 and MainOnes optical fibre cables would be open to traffic in the next month. 

Information released by MainOne Company in Lagos says Phase 1 of its fibre which links Lagos with Sexial in Portugal with landing point in Accra, Ghana may begin to carry traffic on schedule in June 2010. 

Those who express fears about the limited local loop that takes the backbone to the end user were told that ‘it is even a positive limitation because it is still business for others’

EU Competition Authorities cut tough on chip makers

European Union Competition authorities have fined nine electronic memory chip makers a total of €331m (£285.3m) for price fixing

EU authorities imposed the fine on ten companies, including big names such as Samsung NEC, Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Toshiba having been alerted to the fact that in a cartel fashion, the companies were found to have colluded to fix prices for DRAM chips sold to major PC makers and server manufacturers between 1998 and 2002, according to BBC news.

DRAM is a type of random access memory that stores each bit of data in a separate capacitor within an integrated circuit.

Other companies caught in this web include Hynix, Infineon, Elpida and Nanya.

Following an eight-year investigation by EU officials, Samsung was given the biggest single fine of €146m. Germany's Infineon - the only European-based business amongst the infamous ten - was fined €57m. The whistle blower Micron, on price-fixing cartel, escaped a fine for its assertions.

EU's competition authority said they were all penalised because they sell their products in the European Economic Area and were therefore subject to EU law. Their fine was reduced by 10% for co-operating with investigators.

US ISPs on a collision course with the Regulator

US internet service providers are bracing themselves and readying for battle with the US media regulator following the latter’s announcement of plans to put in place plans for stricter controls on the sector that will open the way for net neutrality.

Following the Appeal court’s decision in April to revoke its authority to regulate broadband companies, the US regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking to re-establish its authority.

The court found the regulator had exceeded its authority in asking cable network provider Comcast to stop throttling BitTorrent peer-to-peer file-sharing traffic but the FCC plans to strengthen its powers by reclassifying broadband providers as a telecommunications service instead of an information service which will enable the regulator to enforce rate changes and unbundling on broadband companies as well as impose net neutrality regulations.

Google, Amazon and other content providers have long been pushing for net neutrality regulations to prevent telecoms firms from favouring or discriminating against certain types of content others like Verizon and AT&T are taking their challenge further by signalling they will mount a legal challenge to the FCC's move, according to the Financial Times.

In a bid to avoid a climb-down and a legal confrontation, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has said the regulator will show restraint in exercising its proposed authority by retaining a light touch with internet regulation.

 

Nokia and Apple at it (again)

Following Elan Microelectronics Corporation - the Taiwanese Touchpad technologies company - now Nokia has filed a lawsuit against Apple in the United States, claiming that Apple’s iPhone and iPad 3G infringe on several of its patents.

 In this new round of merry-go-round of lawsuits between both titans of telecommunications which dates back October last year, Nokia filed a lawsuit against Apple for patent infringement on “enhanced speech and data transmission, using positioning data in applications and innovations in antenna configurations that improve performance and save space, allowing smaller and more compact devices”.

In a press release, Paul Melin, General Manager of patent licensing for Nokia, said: “Nokia has been the leading developer of many key technologies in mobile devices. We have taken this step to protect the results of our pioneering development and to put an end to continued unlawful use of Nokia’s innovation.”

In this legal carousel, this new lawsuit comes as Apple announced plans to release the iPad outside the US for the first time. The iPad will be released in UK on Friday, May 28.

This development it can sure do without.

Is IBM shredding jobs?

In yet another indication of persisting financial crisis in the global ICT market, reports reveal  IBM is considering cutting three-quarters of its 399,000 permanent staff in the next seven years and re-hiring them for projects as part of an HR strategy due to end in 2017.

In a statement to Personnel during the week, Tim Ringo, head of IBM human capital management, said IBM would re-hire the workers as contractors for specific projects and, when necessary, use crowd sourcing in a bid to reduce its workforce from 399,000 today to 100,000 in 2017.

Although he asserted this was only a consideration at present, he appears to have earmarked areas where cuts will apply saying "There would be no buildings costs, no pensions and no healthcare costs, making huge savings,"

Sounding a somewhat pessimistic note, Robert Morgan, Director at sourcing consultancy Burnt Oak Partners, said that all the big service providers would attempt to move to this type of strategy. "It is something they have been doing over the last three years."

He said that because outsourcing contracts are often in their fourth and fifth generations, many of the cost savings have already been made.

"The only way they can make the savings now is by cutting the number of permanent staff."

Mark Lewis, partner and head of outsourcing at law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, said suppliers have to get people "off their books" if they are to make the required savings. He predicts that IBM and other employers that do this might have difficulties in Europe with ramification for customers who might be unhappy about roles in outsourcing contracts being filled by sub-contractors.

An IBM spokesman denied the firm was about to shrink its permanent workforce saying , "The comments are without merit. This was pure speculation about future job movements without any basis in fact.  In fact, the comments run counter to IBM's history of growing its global workforce over each of the last eight years."

We simply have to wait and see

 

Internet emerges as the dominant medium

In a clear sign that the internet is set to be the dominant medium of information, communication and entertainment, research in the US reveal that for the first time, the internet has surpassed TV as the “most essential” medium.

The reputable survey Infinite Dial conducted by Arbitron and Edison Research was the 18th in a series of studies from the aforementioned firm on topics relating to the internet and new media

In a statistically viable survey, when asked which medium they would eliminate, 49% of respondents chose to eliminate TV, compared to just more than 48% who said they would get rid of the internet. This is significant given that when first asked the question in 2001, 72% of respondents said they would do without the internet, while only 26% said they would eliminate television.

Demographic variation reveals that the gap between the two forms of media is more profound, with more people under the age of 45 choosing to live without TV.

There is also evidence of convergence in functionality and role of TV and the internet in viewers’ consciousness as more people spend more time watching TV programs on the internet or simultaneously viewing the internet and TV. In the US, the figure of simultaneous viewing rose from to 56.9% in June 2009 to 59%in December 2009, according to the Three Screens Report from The Nielsen Company.

In the UK, the BBC's iPlayer online catch-up service launched officially on Christmas Day 2007, posted record-breaking viewing figures for 2009 with five million unique users a week.

In a separate but relevant report on the power of the internet and online video market, YouTube claims to now get over two billion hits daily - nearly double the number of people who tune into the US's three prime time TV stations combined.

Over seven months ago the video site clocked up one billion downloads. This astonishing news comes as the site celebrates the day five years ago when the first beta version of YouTube was launched. Back then in December 2005, 8 million videos were watched a day this figure increased to a phenomenal 1 billion views per day by October 2009

The site was bought by Google near the end of 2006 for $1.65bn.

‘I see this great growth opportunity in the online video market and we are positioning ourselves to be a leader,’ co-founder Chad Hurley told BBC News.

He also said that while the two billion downloads marked a real milestone he felt they have much further to go.

The revolution is surely being televised

 

 

ATCON to fly ISP empowerment Agenda

Recently elected President of Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, told a select audience of young entrepreneurs in Lagos during the week that he would take the association through a path of 'inclusive communication' and 'empowerment of every subgroup therein' so that their businesses can prosper and they would serve their customers better.
 
He noted, in particular, that the Internet Service Provider sub-group which appeared to have been the most endangered sub-group in the industry has a good prospect of turning around their businesses if they restrategise and adopt the plans the Association has in stock.
 
According to him, the plans are yet to be endorsed by the Association’s Congress but when they eventually do, the association would re-empower its ISP sub-group by giving their sector-association (Internet Services Providers Association of Nigeria, ISPAN) a good platform of empowerment to network its resources and to enjoy regular training and knowledge transfer from renowned providers in other mature and emerging markets.
 
‘Look, gentlemen, with IP, tomorrow is the ISP’s day because yesterday’s 80%Voice/20%data will transform to 80%Data/20%voice tomorrow. And what does that tell us? It tells us it is the internet service providers’ world. But they, ISP's, have to learn new concepts of business and be ready to switch their thought very quickly. What does that is Training and who provides that is ATCON which in reality is the sanctuary the ISPs have avoided all along.’
Mr. Omo-Ettu said study groups have been set up to identify what things his association should be doing to improve service delivery and return on investment rather than the stereotype thinking that associations exist only to fight governments and themselves.


Online ebook Store: A new initiative from Google


 
Google has finalised plans and obtained all necessary approvals to launch its much awaited online e-book store. The site, named Google Editions, is touted to be the most serious competitor to Amazon.com, and is coming barely within months of Apple Inc launching a similar website, iBooks, to complement its sister site, iTunes, which presently dominates electronic music sales worldwide.
 
E-books have garnered increasing popularity in recent years with the exponential increase in storage capacity of mobile devices like smartphones and PDAs, as well as the launch of dedicated ebook readers, like Amazon.com’s Kindle, and other niche devices like the phenomenally selling iPad. Responding to the trend, many publishers are releasing e-book versions of their new and old book titles, this despite rising piracy concerns.
 
Google operates an already popular website called Google Books, which archives and distributes out-of-copyright books like literature and science classics. With the launch of Google Editions, popular and contemporary present day work will be available for token sale. Google has promised to launch the site with 500,000 book titles, accessible from any web-connected device.

BB4NG Group set to provide major Broadband Lead Document


 
There is report from Abuja, Nigeria, that a Broadband for Nigeria, BB4NG-group has completed preliminary work on a framework and implementation agenda program for an inroad document for Broadband access to Nigerians. The work which is at the instance of the Nigeria ICT Forum of Partnership Institutions, was initiated as an empowerment document which all stakeholders in Nigeria would be invited to make contribution to before it is delivered to Governments and their agencies in Nigeria.
 
Coordinator of the group, Dr Ibrahim Aminu, indicated that a Full Stakeholders Forum was being planned for end of June when more than 35 stakeholder groups would be represented at a study session to ratify the document. The major groups on the list include Government Institutions, Agencies and parastatals, the Universities and research centres, the organised private sector, civil society groups, the professions, trade associations and the political class. 

ICT Watch Network announces plan for lectures and recognitions

ICT Watch Network – a leading Nigerian television programme which relays on MITV and TVC has announce a plan  to assemble Africa’s Digital ‘who is who’ in Nigeria at a date to be confirmed. A major highlight of the initiative is the Africa Digital Awards & Lecture Series.
 
The lecture will focus on the pace of Africa’s digital growth in the last decade while the Awards are designed to recognise and honour experts, companies and individuals, who have excelled in ICT development endeavours.


ATCON elects new Exco

The Annual General meeting of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, ended with election of a 12 member Executive Committee with two years tenure. The President’s position went to Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu a Lagos based telecommunications engineer who is also Managing Consultant of Telecom Answers Associates. Other members of the committee are Engr. Gerry Ekesiani (Vice President1), Barrister Adewale Jones (Vice President2), Mr David Roberts (National Secretary); Mrs. Maurine Egbuna (Publicity Secretary); Mr Myke Ofili (Treasurer); Engr. Anthony Nwosu (Coordinator, Auxiliary Service Providers’ Sub-group); Mr Macdanielles Ighedosa (Coordinator, Enhanced Services Providers Sub-Group); Mr. Akinlabi Akinbo (Coordinator, Consultants Sub-Group); Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem (Immediate Past President); and Mr Ajibola Olude (Executive Secretary).
 

Local content: Discussion issue for barcamp Nigeria scheduled for UNILAG May 22, 2010


 A gathering of select technology professionals will hold at the university of Lagos on Saturday, May 22, 2010. They will come under the name of Barcamp Nigeria to bring young aspiring technology professionals, especially students together to promote technology advancement in Nigeria.
 
Theme of the discussion is Creating local content for Nigerian web market and Venue is the Centre for Information Technology and system, Unilag Lagos at 9.00am.
 
Scheduled to address the meeting are Simdul Shagaya, CEO of e-motion advertising and the founder of alarena.com; Chinenye Mba-Ozoukwo of eShekels and Titi Omo-Ettu, President Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, ATCON.


 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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