Porting Rise by over 20,000 in March – NCC

Porting activities within telecommunications service providers rose by 20,190 in March, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said.

This is contained in the Incoming and Outgoing Porting Activities of Mobile Network Operators report released by the telecoms regulator in Lagos.

The report showed that by the increase, subscribers porting within the networks reached 42,021 from the 21,831 recorded in February.

It said that out of the 42,021 porting activities in March, 20,851 were “Incoming Porting Activities”, while 21,170 were “Outgoing Porting Activities”.

The report revealed that in the outgoing table, 7,086 subscribers moved from Airtel Nigeria to other networks through Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in March.

Subscribers that left Airtel’s network increased by 4,424 as against 2,662 customers that dropped the network in February.

Also 6,032 customers moved from Globacom Nigeria; showing an increase of 2,029 subscribers as against 4,003 that left the service provider in February.

Similarly, 5,919 subscribers moved from MTN Nigeria, which revealed an increase of 3,035 customers that left the network as against 2,884 that left in February.

It showed that 2,133 customers of Etisalat Nigeria left to other networks within the same period giving an increase of 622 that left, when compared with 1,511 users, who deserted in February.

The data also revealed that Etisalat led by an additional 15,208 customers on its network in March.

Airtel Nigeria came second on the gainers’ list with 3,423 subscribers, 1,387 subscribers moved to MTN Nigeria, while Globacom Nigeria got 833 customers.

This exercise Kicked off on April 22, 2013 is an initiative of the NCC aimed at deepening competition in the industry.

NCC to Rely on Local Technologies

The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has called for local technologies that will enhance development in the telecommunications industry.

The regulatory body said in a statement in Lagos that it supported among other things, telecommunications-based innovations.

It said that it supported inventions and research from tertiary institutions in the country that were practical, locally realisable and had clear potential of developing the telecommunications industry.

“Pursuant to this objective, the commission invites proposals from academics in tertiary institutions that have feasible research ideas capable of replacing or enhancing foreign technologies in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria.”

“It is envisaged that the initiative will help build capacity in the tertiary institutions and promote Nigeria’s contribution to the pool of technologies in use in the communications industry.”

“Interested researchers are invited to submit their proposals which must come from teaching academics in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions.’‘

“The proposal must have a one-page executive summary of the research proposal to include relevance of the research to the telecommunications industry,” NCC said.

It said that the proposal must involve a clear statement and explanation of the problem which the technologies would solve.

NCC said that the proposal must proposed solution to the problem and the relevance of the technology to the telecommunications industry.

According to the regulatory body, the researcher must show evidence of local realisation, up to prototype of the technology.

“The cost of actualising the idea, excluding furniture and allowances must be reasonable.”

“The research should be integrated with education so as to build the capacity of students via the implementation of the project in the institution.”

“There must be evidence of competence of term in executing the project,” the commission said.

NCC said that interested researchers should submit both hard and soft copies of their research proposals on or before May 17.

It said that submission would undergo preliminary assessment.

“The proposals that are adjudged promising and capable of developing the telecommunications industry will be further evaluated by another level of assessors.”

“Sponsors/authors of research submissions may be invited for defense of their proposals before a decision is taken on whether the commission will fund their project(s) or not,” the telecommunications umpire said.

NAN

Operators Accuse NCC Of Monopoly Over Long Numbers

Value Added Services operators have accused the Nigerian Communications Commission of creating a monopoly in the telecommunications sector through the delayed allocation of long numbers to them.

Our correspondent gathered that the affected VAS and Special Numbering Service providers were licensed over two years ago by the commission to deliver voice services through special numbering codes, also known as long codes.

However, stakeholders said that despite the increasing number of licenced VAS/shortcodes providers, the market had been on the decline.

This, according to them, is because the Premium SMS shortcodes business, which is mainly dedicated to the commercialisation of mobile content, is completely under control of Mobile Network Operators, who impose their technical and commercial terms on licensed VAS/ SMS shortcode providers, especially the unfair revenue share for the service provision.

“There is an increasing demand for longcodes services from various kinds of businesses, especially in the domain of the cloud unified communication, multichannel call centre, among others,” one of the stakeholders stated on condition of anonymity.

He added, “It is, however, disheartening to note that of five companies licensed to deliver services via special numbering codes in the past two years, none has been allocated a range of VAS long numbers except the first licensee who is operating the 0700 & 0800 ranges since 2005 under a monopoly situation.”

According to available information on the Nigerian Communications Commission website, the licensees are Alpha Technologies Limited, Lagos; Callme Nigeria Limited, Abuja; GTS-Infotel Nigeria Limited, Lagos; Cedarview Communications Limited, Lagos; Trium Networks Limited, Lagos; and Interra Networks Limited, Abuja.

While Alpha Technologies, which got its licence over 12 years ago, is the only firm currently offering VAS longcodes services using the 0700 and 0800 codes, the latest five licensees are unable to operate for over two years now with their licenses as result of delay by the NCC in releasing the access code for them.

The situation, industry players lamented, had been “negatively impacting” on their business growth.

“These operators are bewildered as to what to do with their Licenses in addition to the loss of investors’ confidence already being experienced.

“In addition, these unnecessary delays further create the fear of a deliberate creation of a monopoly without giving any room for competitiveness and creativity in the VAS segment of telecoms sector,” the Managing Director, GTS-Infotel, Pierre François, said.

He said, “We urge the NCC, as one of the acclaimed best regulatory bodies in Africa and beyond, to do something urgent to these concerns. We believe that Nigeria, as the centre of excellence of the ICT in Africa, should through its telecommunications regulatory body show direction to other African countries with respect to the development of a sustainable mobile VAS market, which is a growing sector of the digital economy.”

Senate Did Not Okay Data Price Hike

Our attention has been drawn to a publication with the misleading title “ Senate Okays Data Price Hike, says NCC Acted in national Interest” in a national daily insinuating that the Senate through its Committee on Communications sanctioned data price increase by telecommunications service providers during an oversight visit to the Nigerian Communication Commission.

There is no iota of truth in the misleading title as the contrary is the case from what the Vice chairman of the Committee Senator Solomon Adeola said in his presentation during the briefing by NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Professor Umaru Dambatta.

Senator Adeola while commending the NCC for its achievements in recent times stated that the action it took in suspending the proposed data hike following public outcry was in the national and peoples’ interest stressing that their prompt responses to Senate inquiries on the matter and other related issues and a promise to undertake further scientific study on the data hike issue was commendable.

As can be seen from the body of the story no where did the senator ‘okays’ the regulatory agency recommended “price floor” which was the issue that gave rise to the proposed data price hike that has since been suspended.
Signed:

Chief Kayode Odunaro
Media Adviser to Senator Solomon Adeola
13th December, 2016.

Why We Reversed Data Price Hike- NCC

AFTER suspending the planned increase in data price, the Nigerian Communications Commission on Wednesday said the decision to rescind its earlier directive to telecom operators to commence charging the new floor price rate for data from December 1, was to allow for further consultation with industry interest groups.
“Following concerns that visited the directive to introduce price floor for data segment of the telecommunications sector beginning from December 1, 2016, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has suspended any further action in that direction,” the director, Public Affairs at the NCC, Tony Ojobo said in a statement.
“The decision to suspend this directive was taken after due consultation with industry stakeholders and the general complaints by consumers across the country.”
Mr. Ojobo said the Commission has already asked all operators to maintain the status quo until the conclusion of study to determine retail prices for broadband and data services in the country.
Prior to the suspension, Nigerians had raised concerns about the impropriety of the decision by government to hike price of data at this time.
Several Nigerians accused the NCC of insensitivity, considering the high cost of living in the face of the current economic recession in the country.
Social media users expressed fears the government planned to limit citizens’ access to the Internet.
In its reaction, the Senate passed a vote asking the Commission to immediately halt the proposed Internet data tariff hike.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly, in a motion under matter of urgent importance by Bala N’ Allah, the Senate Deputy Leader, condemned the planned data tariff hike, and asked the NCC to halt the increase immediately.
On November 1, the Commission, after a consultative meeting on October 19 with all mobile network operators in the country, wrote to them on the need to determine an interim price floor for data services.
In the memo, the telecom sector regulator justified its decision to have a price floor, claiming it was primarily to promote a level playing field for all operators in the industry, encourage small operators and new entrants.
The price floor of N3.11 kobo per megabyte of data in 2014, it recalled, was removed in 2015, pointing out that the price floor that was supposed to flag off on December 1, 2016 was put at 90 kobo per megabyte.
Although the Commission said smaller operators, by virtue of their small market share, were exempted from the now suspended price regime, it said the decision on the floor price was to protect the consumers who are at the receiving end.
The commission said the decision was equally to save the smaller operators from predatory services likely to suffocate them and push them out of business into extinction.
“The price floor is not an increase in price, but a regulatory safeguard put in place by the telecommunications regulator to check anti-competitive practices by dominant operators,” Mr. Ojobo clarified.
He denied the regulator had fixed prices for data services, pointing out that “the NCC does not fix prices, but provides regulatory guidelines to protect the consumers, deepen investments and safeguard the industry from imminent collapse.”
Prior to the now suspended price floor of N0.90k/MB, the industry average for dominant operators, including MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, EMTS Limited (Etisalat) and Airtel Nigeria Limited was N0.53k per megabyte.
Etisalat offered (N0.94k per megabyte), Airtel (N0.52k per megabyte), MTN (N0.45k per megabyte) and Globacom (N0.21k per megabyte).
A comparison of the data prices by the major operators with that initially proposed by NCC shows that but for the reversal, majority of Nigerians would have had to pay between 90 and 300 per cent increase in data prices.
The smaller operators/new entrants, including Smile Communications, Spectranet and NATCOMS (NTEL) were allowed to charge N0.84k, N0.58k and N0.72k per megabyte respectively.
Courtesy:Social Times

Nigeria’s NCC Suspends Data Price Increase

The Nigerian Communications Commission on Wednesday announced the immediate suspension of the new minimum pricing template for data services by mobile operators.

The new rate, which would have led to price increase in data for some Nigerians, was scheduled to take effect from December 1.

The NCC said the decision is to allow for further consultation.

The NCC’s decision comes a few hours after the Senate ordered a stop to the planned increase.

Read the official press statement from NCC below:

NCC suspends directive on data segment price floor

Following the concerns that visited the directive to introduce price floor for data segment of the telecommunications sector beginning from December 1, 2016, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has suspended any further action in that direction.

The decision to suspend this directive was taken after due consultation with industry stakeholders and the general complaints by Consumers across the country.

The Commission has weighed all of this and consequently asked all operators to maintain the status quo until the conclusion of study to determine retail prices for broadband and data services in Nigeria.

Recall that the Commission wrote to the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) on November 1, 2016 on the determination of an interim price floor for data services after the stakeholder’s consultative meeting of October 19, 2016.

The decision to have a price floor was primarily to promote a level playing field for all operators in the industry, encourage small operators and new entrants.

The price floor in 2014 was N3.11k/MB but was removed in 2015. The price floor that was supposed to flag off on December 1, 2016 was N0.90k/MB.

In taking that decision, the smaller operators were exempted from the new price regime, by virtue of their small market share. The decision on the price floor was taken in order to protect the consumers who are at the receiving end and save the smaller operators from predatory services that are likely to suffocate them and push them into extinction.

The price floor is not an increase in price but a regulatory safeguard put in place by the telecommunications regulator to check anti-competitive practices by dominant operators.

This statement clarifies the insinuation in some quarters that the regulator has fixed prices for data services. This is not true because the NCC does not fix prices but provides regulatory guidelines to protect the consumers, deepen investments and safeguard the industry from imminent collapse.

Before the new suspended price floor of N0.90k/MB, the industry average for dominant operators including MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, EMTS Limited (Etisalat) and Airtel Nigeria Limited was N0.53k/MB.

Etisalat offered (N0.94k/MB), Airtel (N0.52k/MB), MTN (N0.45k/MB) and Globacom (N0.21k/MB).

The smaller operators/ new entrants charge the following: Smile Communications N0.84k/MB, Spectranet N0.58k/MB and NATCOMS (NTEL) N0.72k/MB.

The NCC as a responsive agency of government takes into consideration the feelings of the consumers and so decided to suspend the new price floor.

Signed

Tony Ojobo

Director, Public Affairs

NCC

NCC To Partner With NUC To Strengthen Nigerian Varsities

The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has announced its intention to partner with the National Universities Commission, to strengthen the conduct of research by Nigerian Universities.

This was made known by the Commission in Abuja while on a visit to the National Universities Commission.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission,‎ Mr Garba Danbatta, stated that a technical team would be put in place to assist the Nigerian Research and Education Network of the National Universities Commission.

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Professor Julius Okojie, who met with the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC behind closed doors applauded the setting up of a technical committee to address some of the challenges being faced by the Nigerian Research and Educational Network.

Time For NCC To Grow A Spine, By Charles Ibekwe

Nigeria’s telecom subscribers are being ripped off daily and the only organization empowered to stop it, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) is set to allow that continue into the foreseeable future except something gives. The network operators are the ones regulating NCC. It is their puppet that jerks in whatever direction they pull the strings to.
NCC did not leave anyone in doubt that this is what is happening as it recently cemented its position as a collaborator with the network operators as opposed to that of a regulator that the public expect it to be. The shambolic outing at a forum couple of weeks ago in Lagos to explore the draft regulatory framework on Value Added Service (VAS) prepared by the NCC confirmed what has always been known by subscribers, the regulator answers to the operators it was meant to oversight.
What happened at the consultative forum, paradoxically organized by the NCC, was nothing short of the big telecom companies (telecoms) giving the commission the middle finger and they were not remorseful about doing so openly for all Nigerians to see. Reduced to layman terms, the telecoms are adamant in their resolve to continue holding Nigerians hostage with their exploitative offerings while at the same time holding back the growth of the industry and preventing its expansion to create jobs for Nigerians and revenue for the government.
At the core of what transpired at the consultative forum was the Value Added Service (VAS) which the draft regulations described as “…any telecom network-based service that offers more value than the ordinary voice conversation service, usually at a higher price than normal voice charges OR a service offered over the public voice or data network which by using computer-based processing allows the caller to access, download or modify information stored in remote locations.” 
So all those information services and content such like news, updates, data, quiz, games, ringtones, video streaming, alerts, product information, call centre and database access etc. are what constitute VAS since these are not the functionalities that the telecom providers were originally licenced to serve. These services are currently unregulated and the draft framework is meant to provide regulation that includes licencing those that provide them, different from the telecom operators. The lack of regulation is of course responsible for those annoyingly irritating intrusion into one’s privacy and quiet moments by constant harassment from unsolicited SMS, robot call and offers for caller tunes. Those that have approached NCC to stop the bombardment from these services will understand the degree of helplessness the Commission currently faces since it does not have the framework in place to regulate them as it were.
It must be noted that all subsisting directives to bring the telecoms to heel have only been minimally successful because as things stand the big companies are the accused, judge and jury. They will continue to exploit subscribers for as long as the current arrangement continues.
But if citizens and subscribers think unwanted services are irritating – and they are irritating to the extent that those currently shunting them to the public have no competence to deliver in ways that truly make them Value Added Services – the greater import of the telecoms holding unto VAS should get every single person massing at the NCC national headquarters demanding that the right thing be done.
First, the jobs that were widely promised to come with growth in the sectors have been stolen or killed because the diversity that should come with different firms handling different components of VAS has not been allowed to blossom. The VAS value chain, as envisaged should include service and content developers, service hosting and service providers – the aggregators, as well as the network operators. Network operators at the moment hijacked the three tiers. Because they have a kind of monopoly of these services, which they should not be offering in the first place, they are also involved in what amounts to price fixing that allows them to charge exorbitantly. For instance, have you ever imagined that SMS are supposed to be free of charge (or part of the package for subscribing and paying to a particular telco); yet Nigerians were once paying N15 per SMS? How was it possible for the network operators to offer promos in which they can give 1000 free SMS and then go back to continue charging for the same service they should have offered for free? We don’t have to delve into the extortion by the banks in charging for every activity on customers’ accounts through sending frivolous and often unnecessary SMS.
Secondly, the owners of the content deployed on VAS platform, especially the intellectual property owners – musicians, comedians, authors and owners of various literary works, etc. are recklessly short-changed by the big telecoms. Without a formally licensed aggregator or middleman, the telecoms have become something akin to record label or movie producers/companies. They can decide to, for instance, offer any artiste a paltry percentage of the total profit derivable from his/her intellectual property. Since this segment of the business is not regulated or liberalized, it is a zero-some, winner-takes-all market space for the telecoms.  This stifles creative energy and has contributed immensely to the inability of the creative and entertainment industry to grow above sustenance level.
Thirdly, on the government (revenue) side, the network operators are engaged in systematic taxes evasion as they do not pay additional or commensurate taxes for the revenues derived from the activities of the other segments they have hijacked. The VAS platform is reported to be worth at least over N300billion yearly but there is no record of government making corresponding benefit from it by way of additional tax remittances. Let us not forget that the additional thousands of employments that VAS would generate will translate into more PAYE tax for the government to finance public infrastructure. This was the way the telecommunications sector was envisaged when the industry was liberalized. So why has the NCC allowed a few big wigs to revert it into a patently manifest inefficient monopoly?
Furthermore, the refusal of the telecom operators to stick to their mandate areas – voice and data – is impacting the
quality of service they deliver. This is happening because they spread their available resources so thin instead of allowing competent firms to be properly licenced by the NCC to take over VAS as applicable in other markets. Their insistence on operating on the current model is particularly baffling since they will still make money from the other segments providing VAS. To the extent that their economic interests would not be hurt in any way, one must thus ask why the NCC is resolute on remaining the protectionist regime for the network operators instead of stepping up to its functions as provided in the extant law. 
It is common knowledge that the telecoms have their own aggregators – which they actually control to short-change both the consumers and the government in terms of quality and value-added services and tax evasion respectively as itemized above. They have no business owning aggregators, whether as subsidiaries or as affiliates. The industry is not structured to function that way and it is only an anomaly birthed from the unholy alliance between the NCC and the network operators. Each subscriber must therefore pose the relevant question to the NCC to explain why it has over the years stayed hands akimbo while the operators generate or control the generation of content and sell to the people in clear violation of the class of license issued to them.
There is a reason the industry has diverse roles for developers, aggregators, and network providers. The network providers are already doing their job and compromising, if not brazenly hijacking a chunk of business that are beyond their patent functions as provided by the law. If the industry is allowed to thrive the way is meant to be, content and service developers will for instance ensure they are pushing out standard services that are relevant to their customers as opposed to the junk-ware that now dominates the mobile platform. A properly licensed aggregator would ensure that the relevant content is screened, deemed appropriate and delivered only to those subscribed to them and not infuriate our lives as is the case presently.
The NCC must tell us why it is allowing the on-going criminality of telecom companies to go on under its watch as the regulator. We continue to receive all manners of shorts code messages and oftentimes ring back tones we never subscribed to but still charged for even when they have no reflection whatsoever on our taste and choices.
Charles Ibekwe is a Public Affairs commentator writes from Enugu State, email:[email protected]

Nigeria’s Internet Users Drop To 93.7 million

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, on Saturday said that internet users on Nigeria’s telecommunications networks reduced to 93.75 million as at February 2016.

The commission made this known in its monthly Internet Subscriber Data, made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.

It said that the number of subscribers that browsed the internet in January was put at 95.94 million; but reduced to 93.75 million in February.

The data revealed that internet users on both the Global System for Mobile communications, GSM, and the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) networks reduced by 2,194,162

It showed that of the 93.75 million internet users in February, 93.6 million were on GSM networks, while 150,125 users were on the CDMA.

Of the 93.6 million internet users on the GSM networks in the month under review, MTN Nigeria had 35.6 million customers browsing the internet on its network. MTN had a decrease of 2.6 million internet subscribers in February, after it recorded 38.21 million users in January.

According to the report, Globacom had 25.68 million customers surfing the net in February, as the number increased by 248,593 from the January’s record of 25.43 million.

Airtel Nigeria, it said, had 17 million internet users in February, as against 16.85 million customers recorded in January.

Foramfera

It said that internet users on the Airtel Nigeria network increased by 224,037 in February.

The data added that Etisalat had 15.23 million internet users in February, against the 15.28 million in January, hence, reducing by 52,251 in the month under review.

It also revealed that the CDMA operators (Multi-Links and Visafone), had a joint total of 150,125 internet users on their networks in February.

It showed that the only surviving two CDMA networks in the country listed a decrease of 52 internet subscribers in the month under review, from the 150,177 users they recorded in January.

Visafone had maintained 149,953 customers surfing the internet in February, as it recorded from December 2015.

Multi-Links had 172 internet users in February, reducing 52 customers from the January record of 224 users.

The decrease in the use of the internet in the month of February showed that there was the need for more Nigerians to embrace the internet.

The NCC noted that the country was making progress towards achieving 30 per cent broadband penetrations by 2018.

(NAN)

NCC Explains Delay In Settlement Of MTN Fine

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, wednesday said the absence of instrument of negotiation on the part of government was one of the reasons MTN had not commenced the process that would lead to the full payment of the N780 billion fine imposed on it last year.

He also admitted that key agencies had not made inputs into the proposal made by MTN to government to facilitate the negotiation process, adding: “This is being collated as we speak and very soon, a team which we already have in place will enter into direct negotiation with MTN.”

The EVC spoke during a courtesy visit by the Director General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Mr. Adolphus Joe Ekpe, in his office in Abuja.

He said the N50 billion paid by MTN was a mark of good will for negotiating an out-of-court settlement, adding that it was not part of the N70 billion the commission generated within the last six months from sale of spectrum broadband.

Danbatta said: “NCC has generated N70 billion from the sale of spectrum broadband and spectrum within the six 6 months. This money belongs to the Nigeria people and is remitted into the federation account for services to be rendered to Nigerians by the government.”

On the proposal made by MTN on a convenient mode of payment, Danbatta said government is looking at it, adding however that he is not in a position to say whether it will be acceptable to government or not.
He said: “This is an ongoing process of negotiation and not until it is concluded, nobody will be able to offer a position on it.”

Asked on MTN’s preparedness to pay the fine, he said: “MTN didn’t say they were not going to pay. I did not read this anywhere in the papers, nor does their body language indicate unwillingness to pay.
Danbatta admitted that the most important thing is that the case has been struck out of the court and they have made a goodwill payment, saying. “This is an action that acknowledges their willingness to pay and to amicably resolve the matter, and it will be resolved.”

In his remark, Ekpe said the commission was visiting NCC to seek greater collaboration in the spirit of nation building that will help in the revenue generation base of government, adding that inter-governmental collaboration has not been adequate enough.

He said it had become expedient that there should be a platform for the integration of NLRC text message transaction monitoring and archiving platform for lottery schemes aided by telecommunication providers.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Communications Technology through the NCC, yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf of the federal government and the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) at the ministry headquarters.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), has denied any wrong doing in his handling of the settlement of the fine imposed on MTN Nigeria by the Nigerian NCC.
In a letter written on his behalf by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Salihu Isah, to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, the justice minister accused the Senate of failing to give him fair hearing before accusing him of wrong doing.

He said the negotiation with MTN has not been concluded as claimed by the senators.
Isah said he was compelled to respond to the spate of bad press as well as the obvious and deliberate sponsorship of same by those “who ordinarily should investigate and have the capacity to demand an explanation from the Office of the AGF (OHAGF/MOJ) on his role in the matter relating to the N780 billion fine slammed on the MTN by the NCC in which the company has made N50 billion down payment as a condition for it (MTN) to gain audience with the relevant government agencies for the out-of-court settlement as ordered by the court.”

He said: “However, for the benefit of those in doubt, it is so far, so good for the role my principal has played. I wish to state vividly that, when Mr. Eric Holder, the counsel to the MTN led a team to interface with my principal as the chief law officer of the nation- (mind you, Holder is a former Attorney General of the United States) and so wouldn’t have entered into the meeting if he was not sure my principal was most appropriate to negotiate with; even at that; the former insisted that MTN which the latter represents must show some commitment by ensuring down payment of N50 billion. The federal government insistence was that no audience could be granted to the telecom company or anyone acting on its behalf while the case is still pending in court and in the absence of demonstration of good faith by MTN.

“To this request, MTN offered to comply, and indeed complied by withdrawing the case unconditionally and to make an agreed payment of N50 billion ($250 million), an offer the FGN accepted only to grant audience to it and its counsel in relations to the settlement discussions (and without prejudice and in good faith). The payment was made on February 24th, into a Federal Government Recoveries Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Company also filed an application to withdraw its pending suit in an attempt to fulfill the second condition for audience with the FGN on the matter. This was also confirmed by the Office of the AGF before it agreed to grant audience to MTN or its counsel. And having fulfilled the two conditions as demanded by the federal government through the OHAGF/MOJ; the MTN through its counsel Eric Holder and his Covington legal team thereby sought audience with HAGF/MOJ who yet denied going into any negotiations, but demanded a proposal of the terms meant to be discussed in writing. Mr. Eric Holder obliged those terms and the HAGF/MOJ who quickly despatched a mail through the normal official channel to the Honourable Minister of Communications and the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC inviting for their input before fixing any meeting.

“While still awaiting the responses of both, no meeting or discussion or negotiation has been held on the issue ever since. What the HAGF/MOJ did afterwards was to ask the MTN legal team to formally present its proposals on the matter so that technical input could be sought from all stakeholders before the FGN could grant them any audience. This proposal has now been circulated among the stakeholders for their technical contributions and that is where we were on the issue when the invitation of the Senate came in at a time when the HAGF/MOJ was embarking on a trip to attend an anti-corruption summit in the United Kingdom that he was earlier billed to attend before the invitation came handy.

“It is imperative to state at this juncture that neither an audience nor commitment was made by the HAGF/MOJ to MTN who was then waiting for the technical inputs and comments of the Ministries of Communications and Finance as well as the NCC with a view to harmonize the inputs and coordinate inter-ministerial meeting for a common position before considering an audience meeting or negotiation with MTN, all of which were aborted by the pre-emptive conclusion hastily reached by your committee.”

New Telecoms Company, NTel, Begins Operation April 8

Newest entrant into Nigeria’s telecommunications market, Ntel, has concluded plans to roll out services from April 8. Ntel, which plans to start from Lagos and Abuja, said it would offer Nigerians fourth generation Long Term Evolution (4G LTE) network service.

The Chief Executive Officer, Ntel, Kamar Abass, who disclosed this yesterday, in Lagos, said that all is set for the commercial launch following link from completion of agreements with channel partners as well as go-ahead from Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Abass said the telecommunications regulator has approved all licence authorization necessary for Ntel to launch its Voice over LTE (VoLTE) network using next generation telecommunications infrastructure.

He said Ntel has deployed about 600 base transceiver stations (BTSs) in the two cities with 2000 sites to be rolled out as the network expands.

Abass said already 200 kilometres of fibre optic transmission cables have been laid in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt for seamless network connectivity. He said Ntel has deployed LTE Advanced, the latest 4G technology with multi-antenna MIMO sites.

“We are rolling out physical sites in two cities on our 900MHz and 1800MHz bands to launch Voice over LTE come April 8, 2016. We have signed agreements with trade partners and fulfilled all licence authorisations and payments and we are up-to-date. There are no impediments to our launch,” he said.

Abass said NATCOMS Investments Ltd, the parent company of Ntel has project over $1 billion investments over the next four years.
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To ensure smooth take off of its mobile network, the NATCOMS has completed the construction of Tier III datacenter as well as reactivation of SAT3 submarine international fibre optic cable.

It will be recalled that NATCOMS had last year paid $252.52 million to acquire the assets of the defunct first national operator (FNO) to begin commercial operation on its mobile network.

According to Abass, despite the growth of the telecoms sector in Nigeria which has seen voice subscriptions rise from less that 60,000 in year 2001 to over 147 million as at 2015, broadband usage has only grown by 20 per cent.

He said NATCOM has come to fill the gap bringing Nigerians unfettered access to full mobile broadband both on voice and data services.

Over the next four and half years, the total number of mobile broadband customers alone will be greater than all of the customers that have come into the market on mobile since its inception. In other words, we are at a point where a major transformation is in the making. You will see 168 million mobile broadband customers coming into being between now and the end of 2019, which is more than all the mobile customers (both narrow and broadband) that we have seen in the last 15 years.

“That sounds like an enormous transformation. When it comes to the supply of broadband services, we are unique because we have more spectrum, which can deliver more throughput than any network available today and potentially any network in the future. The spectrum we have has unique features which are simply unrepeatable on any other spectrum band” Abass said.