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Cyberschuulnews 369

MTN unveils ‘Group Connect’ 


In its quest to empower domestic businesses, Nigeria’s leading mobile operator MTN, has unveiled a new service called MTN Group Connect. which would allow phone users to have seamless conference calls at no extra cost outside limits of the cost of normal telephone calls .
This service is targeted at providing across-the-board range of business communication solution to corporate Nigeria.

The company says with MTN Group Connect, some categories of telephone users -businessmen and professionals - would be able to hold secured, multi-party conversations over the phone. 

Meanwhile, NCC’s new intervention requiring all mobile phone users in Nigeria to register their SIM card coupled with the introduction of varying inter-connection rates may exert downward pressure on the earnings MTN.

With the varying inter-connection tariff which took effect from December 31, 2009 set at N8.20 a minute down from N11.55.with smaller operators charging an inter-connect rate of  N10.20 to  be reduced to N8.20 by the year 2012, it is the case that bigger older operators will pay more, in real terms, than the smaller operators . Economies of scale might prove the contrary, but the regulator provided ample literature n its website that the idea is to foster greater competition in the market by giving a helping hand to smaller players.

Google to withdraw from China

It has been an eventful week for Google. Almost 4 years to the day  that the search giant’s squeaky clean image faced a serious challenge, when it announced a revamped Chinese search site, which openly complied with Chinese government censorship, it has intimated it may end its operations in China following a "sophisticated and targeted" cyber attack allegedly originating from the country.

4 years on, in what can be perceived as an ignominious withdrawal, the company, within days of standing up to the demands of the US government, Google caved in to Chinese censorship demands when it launched in 2006.

In this latest debacle in which Google said the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists were the primary target of an attack back in December though it did not accuse the Chinese government of complicity or directly, it said was no longer willing to censor its Chinese search engine the result of which could see it closing the site, and its Chinese offices.

Withdrawal would not be painless as it currently holds around a third of the Chinese search market where 340 million Chinese people now online, compared with 10 million only a decade ago. Last year, the search engine market in China was worth an estimated $1bn and analysts previously expected Google to make about $600m from China in 2010. Google’s entry had based on the premise that the China market is too big to ignore.

While ordinary Chinese will mourn its demise, an imminent withdrawal will please Baidu who has more than 60% of market share. Its top executive has been quick off the mark calling the move "hypocritical" and financially motivated having failed to dominate the Chinese search market.  

It is likely to bring to an end the rancour that followed Google's decision to concede to China's demands on censorship in 2006 which led to accusations it had betrayed its company motto – ‘don't be evil’. Then Google argued it would be more damaging for civil liberties if it pulled out of China entirely.


More speed, less battery loss with new USB 3.0

The USB Implementers Forum has announced that the newly introduced USB 3.0 port takes approximately half the time to transfer the same size of data, as does its predecessor, the USB 2.0, as revealed by tests conducted at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, USA this month. The new USB 3.0 is also more power efficient, using one third less power, thus saving battery life, especially for devices like drives that use a single USB port for both data and power functions.

The new USB 3.0 can handle all peripherals that were compatible with the old standard, like modems and flash drives. 3.0 adapter cards that plug into a laptop’s Express Card slot are also available from some manufacturers, for those who may want to upgrade their now antique 2.0. Some notebook models already carry the USB 3.0 port.


Interconnect cost for voice calls favours new entrant operators

 The Nigerian Communications Commission announced on December 21, 2009 that the last day the year was implementation date for new interconnect charges among telephone operators in Nigeria. Interconnect charges are the costs which operators pay themselves to terminate telephone traffic from one operator to another. It is also a component of what eventually determines the unit cost per minute (or per second) by telephone operators in “non-price control” regulatory regimes across the world. 

What is unique in the NCC’s intervention is that the Commission has distinguished between ‘new entrants’ and older operators and used the distinction to draw a line in charges payable between any two of them. It has also prescribed for what will be payable in the next three years. 

According to the document which details out the determination, commencing from December 31, 2009, new entrant operators, meaning those who commenced offering service under a license that was allocated after January 1, 2006 AND is less than 4 years old would receive N10.12 for every mobile voice call terminated by them while those who were in the market before then would receive N8.20 per minute for mobile calls.

In the case of calls terminated to fixed (voice) lines the terminating operator charges N10.12 no matter where the call came from.

The operators regarded as new entrants include: Prest Cable & Satellite TV Systems Ltd., Starcomms Ltd., Danjay Telecomms Ltd., Multi–Links Telecommunications Ltd., Gicell Wireless Ltd., Intercellular Nigeria Plc.,Siotel Nigeria Ltd.., Gamjitel Ltd., Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd (Operating as Etisalat), Alheri Engineering Company Ltd., Visafone Communications Ltd., Reliance Telecommunications Ltd. (Operating as Zoom Mobile),  and Smile Communications Nigeria Ltd.

The interconnection rate for SMS termination provided by new entrants shall be N1.94 per minute while that provided by other operators irrespective of the originating network shall be N1.02.

The last interconnect intervention was in June 2006 and according to the NCC a cost study of market realities was used to determine the new rates.

Please visit The Resource Centre for the NCC intervention document





Its complaints galore on Nexus One, one week after 

In what appears to be an inauspicious start, the recently released Nexus One a.k.a. Google Phone is already besieged by numerous complaints and problems posted in Google’s Support Forum. It seems a far cry from the launch of The Nexus One last week which took place amidst pomp and fanfare with customers, for the very first time, able to buy the touchscreen smart phone directly from Google. This has however been plunged into confusion over who should answer the numerous complaints on support forums which are inundated with complaints from many of the first to buy the phone who need help.

Many people are unhappy with Google only responding to questions by e-mail and are calling for it to set up phone-based support perhaps understandable given that they had forked out $529 £331 (or $179 on a contract with T-Mobile) for the Nexus One.

Ksenia Coffman on the forum said "Right now it's a big mess,"  

The top query, with more than 500 responses, was reported to be about how much people had to pay for the phone and whether existing customers of T-Mobile can get the device at a reduced rate. Almost another 500 people have logged problems with the Nexus One's support for 3G wireless networks complaining about the phone either not switching to 3G or switching back and forth between 3G and EDGE too frequently. Other complaints include too short battery life and bugs when synchronising contacts or getting the handset to work with existing Google accounts.

On the lack of response to vast majority of the questions posted on the query, a spokesman for Google said ‘We've worked closely with our Nexus One launch partners to make support available through a variety of channels.’ He further said. "This is a new way to purchase and support a mobile phone, and we're committed to sorting out the few kinks that do exist."


French government considers asking internet firms to pay up

Having not long reported on Google being accused of tax avoidance in Britain, a report commissioned by the French government, suggests firms such as Google, Yahoo and Facebook should pay a new tax on their online ad revenues which will be redirected to funding legal alternatives for buying books, films and music on the internet.

As part of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s adopted tough line on the increasing dominance of digital content, France it is reported, will compete with Google over its plans to digitise the world's books, with a project to set up its own digital library financed by the government to the tune of £700m. It also  

upholds its civil libertarian credentials by proposing new legislation aimed giving net users the option to have old data about themselves deleted while simultaneously supporting the internet firms by tackling the issue of persistent downloading of illegal content from the net.

The proposals for a tax on content are still very much in its embryonic stages and still short on detail and mode of implementation – something critics have been quick to latch on to saying it would be difficult to implement. 

Unsurprisingly, Google France has voiced opposition to the plan saying it unduly harm content creation and creativity. Its senior policy manager Olivier Esper said, ‘We don't think introducing an additional tax on internet advertising is the right way forward as it could slow down innovation.’

China straddles the line between regulation and restrain on net traffic

We had always been aware of China reticence in fully embracing the web ever since Google’s ‘self-imposed’ censorship of its search services and users’ frustration on government blocks on the site.

Some years on, China’s vice-like grip is not waning but rather tightening on the web exemplified last year’s policy announcement banning of individuals from registering internet domain names.

The policy decreed that those who want to register a domain would have to present a company seal and business licence. Service providers, perhaps not independently, say they are currently sweeping through their database for the purposes of fraud detection as well as identifying individually owned sites deemed ‘harmful’. The true effect of this clampdown is hard to gauge as China does not disclose information or statistics on individual domain name ownership

In the recent past the Chinese authorities have seen the rise in the use of personal websites and user-generated content as impediments because they are difficult to supervise. Earlier in the year they blocked a number social media and video sharing sites like Youtube, Facebook and Twitter citing reasons of copy right violations and lewd content with the arrest of more than 3,000 people.

Internet on car dashboards  – A risky business ? 

Automobile makers and high-tech companies have found a new place to put a state-of-the-art internet-connected  computer - the dash board of the car  amidst a gush of claims that such development will contravene safety regulation.
Key players in the internet players  like Intel and Google having just shifted their browsers from the desktop to the mobile phone, are now taking to the another mass consumed unit – the car.. The opportunity for an industry (the internet) that has done rather well in the economic downturn to collaborate with one that clearly has not (the automobile) to create the next generation of alluring devices is one that bodes well for the latter. 

Watch that space on your dash.

Zain commences phase of fixed payphone rollout

Zain Nigeria announced it has commenced another phase of its fixed pay phone roll out across the country designed to increase access and make telecommunication services more affordable to more Nigerians. The new roll out of fixed payphone terminals in designated public locations is aimed at breaking the barriers to communication in several locations in the country as well as empowering more Nigerians to communicate regardless of economic, demographic or social status the Zain Nigeria’ s Marketing Director of.said the roll out was part of the robust plan to help Nigeria improve on its universal digital access and rural connectivity rating.

Africa telecom investment opportunities beckon

The massive investment opportunities that are abound in Africa and other emerging economies took centre stage as experts from various fields took turns to list strategies that could lead to faster growth and development of telecommunications in these markets.

More than 100 delegates made up of policy makers, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) regulators, universal services fund agents, investment bankers, , heads of telecom operating companies, infrastructure developers, equipment manufacturers and technology vendors from over 25 countries met from 8th to 10th December in London to discuss and take advantage of opportunities, and also appreciate the challenges of investing in ICT in emerging economies.

These delegates spoke at the 2nd annual “Investing in ICTs in Emerging Markets” conference organised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO) at the Inmarsat Conference Centre in London. Discussions centered on practical ways of identifying and examining the opportunities and potential for investments in various segments of the ICT sector in Africa, the Middle-East and Asia.

The event featured presentations and discussions by leading figures in the international ICT arena from across the Commonwealth on various aspects of investment in the ICT in developing economies. from policy and regulation, through funding and operations, to technological advancements, stakeholders shared ideas on the best business models to adopt in order to surmount the social, political and economic challenges faced in such markets, and to achieve profitable investment returns.

Optical fibre inventors secure more UK government funding

Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) part of Southampton University in return for its role in the invention of  some of the key optical fibre technologies that now enable the internet, will receive £4.7m over five years - one of three research and development centres to receive new government money to further its work.

The announcement is part of a £70m investment this year in research to support UK manufacturing.

David Payne, director of the ORC and winner of the much coveted Marconi Prize, back in 1987 along with his team developed the erbium-doped optical amplifier -a key device for internet expansion as it allows the transmission of vast amounts of data via fibre networks. He said the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) had supported the centre for 40 years and ‘had made a huge impact’ on the internet.

Over twenty years later, researchers from the ORC's planar optical materials and silica fibre fabrication groups developed and patented the ‘flat fibre’ - a pioneering optical fibre with greater versatility. The centre has also spun off a number of specialist manufacturing companies that have earned tens of millions of pounds in exports.

Southampton's vice-chancellor, Don Nutbeam, said, ‘The technology that drives the internet was developed here at Southampton. Every time you use a mobile phone or an ATM you are using technology developed at Southampton.’

E-Book Piracy: A Rising Menace.

Soaring sales of e-books in recent times have been accompanied by a familiar internet affliction- piracy. CNN reports that only 24 hours after bestselling author Dan Brown (author of The DaVinci Code) released his latest tome, “The Lost Symbol” as an e-book, pirated copies were available for free download on some file-sharing websites.

Analysts say fictional work is not the only target; textbooks, technical manuals, virtually any text sold in pdf are liable to be pirated and distributed freely. The launch of increasingly popular e-book readers like Amazon’s Kindle, or Sony’s Reader, helped triple sales of e-books in the third quarter of 2009, but like digital music, the threat of file sharing means potential loss of revenue. As a result many publishers now delay e-book releases till long after hardcopy debuts, and in fact some authors avoid the digital route altogether.

JK Rowling author best known as the creator of the Harry Potter series, for example, has stridently refused to release the popular Harry Potter series in electronic format, citing piracy concerns.

Facebook shuts down “kill Obama” group

The good news is that the group is now offline. The bad news is that Facebook took no action against the group for more than a month until an activist made a complaint. The group was set up in November 2009, and had 122 members. It brazenly set forth its goal by saying “We are going to kill Obama. Ten of us will surround the capital, armed with sniper rifles. Mr Hope and Change has just made his last speech.”

Facebook stated that the group was shut down immediately its attention was drawn to it. Last year, Facebook removed a “Should Obama Be Killed?” poll, but only after the media had drawn its attention to the offensive group. This has led critics to maintain that the site is lax in regulating users publishing offensive or criminal content. Threatening the life of the US President could carry a sentence of up to 5 years in prison. Barack Obama has received more death threats than any other President in US history.

Google unveils its smartphone

A few hours ago at their Mountain View HQ California and an invitation-only event Google unveiled its own-brand smartphone called the Nexus One a slim, touchscreen phone built in partnership with Taiwanese manufacturer HTC and runs Google's Android operating system. For the very first time, it will be sold via Google's website directly to members of the public at a competitive price of $529 (£331). It will initially be available on T-mobile on contract in America followed by Vodafone in Europe and Verizon in the US. Google said the phone would ship from launch day. The release of the Nexus One signifies a move to ensure Google remains relevant as people search the web using mobile phones rather than on their PCs. It has set up its own phone portal through which people can get a handset tied to one of several mobile operators or direct from the search firm.

Google also announced a plan to launch ‘pay to call’ adverts that would appear on mobile phones. These would work in a similar way to the ‘pay to click’ adverts that populate many websites and which form a significant chunk of Google's revenue.

Mario Queiroz, Google vice president for product management, described the unveiling as ‘the next stage in the evolution of Android’.

Telecom Egypt’s monopoly broken 

Minister of Information and Communications Technology in Egypt, Mr. Tarek Kamel, has announced that licenses would soon be issued to at least two consortia to compete with Telecom Egypt in suburbs of Cairo and ultimately in rural Egypt. 

The arrangement favours a de-emphasis on payment of License or Spectrum fee but a sharing formula in which government will take 8% of operation proceeds. 

Two licenses are confirmed immediately for communities which have between 50 and 5000 inhabitants and such licensees will have triple play service offer, meaning that they will do telephony, internet and cable TV.


India Commences Mobile Number Portability  

Mobile Number Portability, MNP, has commenced in India. 12 years old Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, TRAI, issued a public information 20th September 2009  prescribing charges and setting a take off date for December 31, 2009.

 Under the guidelines, first beneficiaries are those in the metros while others will have to wait till 31st March 2010. What is more, users who subscribe to MNP must stay for at least three months before they can switch operators.

Apple wins iPod hearing dispute

Apple goes into 2010 with one less court case to worry about.

Reports from the BBC reveal that a US Appeals court has ruled in favour of Apple in a lawsuit claiming that the iPod was/could be responsible for hearing loss.

In a country renowned for it litigious tendencies, two claimants sued Apple claiming iPod was defective because users can listen to it at the unsafe level of 115 decibels.

The judge upheld a 2008 ruling, saying "the plaintiffs simply do not plead facts showing that hearing loss from iPod use is actual or imminent".

He also noted that Apple issues a warning with each of the music players.

Senior Judge David Thompson in delivering his verdict said ‘At most, the plaintiffs plead a potential risk of hearing loss not to themselves, but to other unidentified iPod users.’

CyberschuulNews 368

2009 reviewers say it was slow but a year that scaled new heights

The Team, a cracking team of young writers recently selected to push CyberschuulNews’ commercialisation agenda has reviewed the year 2009 and given a verdict of what they have adjudged to be a slow year but nevertheless scaled new heights.

In an annual review document released on January 1, 2010, the team says 2009 was a mixed bag of the good, the bad and sometimes the downright ugly.

UK-based coordinator of the review and Editor of CyberschuulNews, Abi Bilesanmi, says the review is an honest attempt to place the need to deploy the resources and capabilities of the internet in the context of the imperative for the Federal government to make strategic investment into broadband access. It predicts that the future of Nigeria’s economy is linked to a strategic restructuring of a true ICT industry and encouragement of broadband internet access to germinate in communities across the country.

Please click here to read the 2009 review.


"Climate Change is a global challenge that the world cannot lose" -
ITU Secretary General 

Dr Hamadoun Toure, Secretary General ITU has warned that the world has to break its neck to face the challenge of climate change. ITU has argued that the strategies for tackling Climate change lie in 

Reducing the environmental impact of climate change  
Harnessing the power of ICTs and
Monitoring climate change 

To solve today's climate problems, ITU has promised that it would work closely with its membership to lead efforts in achieving a climate neutral ICT industry. At a press conference during the summit, the Secretary General alongside Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU's standardization arm (ITU-T) hinted Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) as part of the solution, COP15 delegates were urged to look to the enormous potential of high-tech solutions to cut emissions across all sectors.


More legal fisticuffs between Nokia and Apple

Nokia has ramped up its legal fight against Apple, arguing that almost all of its products infringe Nokia patents.

Nokia, the world's largest phone maker, filed its new complaint with the US International Trade Commission (ITC). The complaint allegedly relates to seven patents infringement in relation to ‘user interface, as well as camera, antenna and power management technologies’.

The Finnish phone maker alleges that Apple is using patented technologies to "create key features in its products", including iPods and iPhones.

In October Nokia sued Apple, saying that the company's popular touchscreen iPhone infringed 10 of its patents. Apple told the BBC that it would not comment on Nokia's latest legal movebut recently countered by filing its own lawsuit against Nokia, saying the phone maker had copied certain aspects of the iPhone and infringed 13 of its patents.

Nokia said it expects the ITC to decide whether to pursue the case in around 30 days.

Seconds away, Round 3. Ding!


Obama appoints another Cybersecurity Chief

US President Barack Obama has named Information Security Forum president Howard Schmidt as national cybersecurity coordinator. The White House has announced that Schmidt, a former Bush advisor, will coordinate the US government's protection of computer systems.

In a recent interview with about the role of Cybersecurity, Schmidt highlighted complacency on IT security as one of the greatest challenges the federal government faces in developing an IT security culture. He advocated shared responsibility between services providers and their users to ensure the fullest utilisation of IT systems’ capabilities, and security.

He said "As we have gone through the years, we focused more on the richness and robustness and the great technology it brings us and sort of not put as much forward as we needed to the risks that are out there and more importantly how one could really do things themselves to mitigate those risks."

His appointment it is hoped will bring about a more joined up, coordinated cybersecurity strategy, in recognition of the borderless nature of the cyber threat faced by national  governments, industries and citizens.


Accusations of tax avoidance laid at Google’s door

A report has emerged that Google’s international corporate structure has fostered a tax avoidance regime and is facing a corporation tax bill in the UK estimated at £450m.

Google dominates the realm of internet searches in the  UK with an estimated 90% of market share. Last year the search engine's advertising revenue from British customers was about £1.6bn with its ooperations in London and Manchester incurring administrative expenses of £177m including a wage bill of £70m. By diverting UK tax to its European headquarters in Ireland, which has a favourable corporation tax rate (10% to 25% rather than 28% to 30% paid in the UK) as well as using a cross-border network of subsidiary companies, Google ensured it paid no corporation tax on its advertising revenues in Britain.

This could have serious consequences for Google – a view expressed by Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable who told The Sunday Times that ‘Google's reputation will be severely damaged if it continues to behave in this way. It is ducking its social responsibility.’

Google, in its defence, told the Sunday Times, ‘Google makes a big investment in the UK, with over 800 employees, and makes a substantial contribution to local and national taxation. But the fact is that our European headquarters is in Dublin. We comply fully with the tax laws in all the countries in which we operate.’

Twitter falls prey to cyber army – from Iran

Following its role in informing us about June 12 debacle in Iran,  it was with incredulity we learn a group claiming to be the Iranian Cyber Army managed to redirect Twitter users to its own site displaying a political message. In what in cyber parlance is called "hacktivism" - politically motivated hacking - the attack showed an image of Arabic text overlaid on a green flag carrying the name of a prominent Shi'i Imam and a poem in Persian which said: "We shall strike if the leader orders, we shall lose our heads if the leader wishes."

In what was obviously an embarrassing security breach, Twitter said the attack had been carried out by getting at the servers that tell web browsers where to find particular sites and it would start an investigation into what allowed the "unplanned downtime" to take place.

Twitter is no stranger to these embarrassing attacks. In July many of its confidential business documents were stolen in a hack attack.

Its popularity has made it a target for cybercriminals to hijack accounts of its users.

March 2010 kickoff date confirmed for SIM Card registration

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has said that registration of SIM cards for all users of mobile phone in Nigeria would commence in March 2010. The directive allows six months for old subscribers to register while new ones would register immediately as they buy their SIM cards. It will be at no extra cost and biometric identification has been mooted.

This became known at the recent 53rd edition of Consumer Parliament held in Lagos presided over by Engr. Olawale Ige, a Commissioner in NCC and former minister of communications.

Mobile Phones help monitor Malaria

In their drive to totally wipe out malaria, the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar is relying on an unlikely ally – mobile phones. University of Florida researchers have been tracking mobile phone users in the country by monitoring call origins to determine their travel patterns, between the low risk Zanzibar and the higher- risk areas in mainland Tanzania.

China straddles the line between regulation and restrain on net traffic

We had always been aware of China reticence in fully embracing the web ever since Google’s ‘self-imposed’ censorship of its search services and users’ frustration on government blocks on the site.

Some years on, China’s vice-like grip is not waning but rather tightening on the web exemplified by this week’s banning of individuals from registering internet domain names.

From Monday, those who want to register a domain would have to present a company seal and business licence. Service providers, perhaps not independently, say they are currently sweeping through their database for the purposes of fraud detection as well as identifying individually owned sites deemed ‘harmful’. The true effect of this clampdown is hard to gauge as China does not disclose information or statistics on individual domain name ownership

In the recent past the Chinese authorities have seen the rise in the use of personal websites and user-generated content as impediments because they are difficult to supervise. Earlier in the year they blocked a number social media and video sharing sites like Youtube, Facebook and Twitter citing reasons of copy right violations and lewd content with the arrest of more than 3,000 people.

Way out of darkness
Engineer floats the “Distributed Generation” solution
A euphemism for Liberalisation? 

Engr. John Ayodele, Executive Director in charge of operations at PHCN has proposed a Distributed Generation Option as panacea to the indescribably poor showing of public electricity supply in Nigeria. 

He referred to Distributed Generation as the proximity between electricity production and the place of consumption and he says it could be a means of addressing the asymmetry between investment, expenditure and demand in the supply of power.  

He highlighted the challenges of interconnection to the grid, safety and reliability that make DG imperative as a realistic proposal, Mr Ayodele also explored the challenges of tariff setting, environmental ramifications, investment and stranded costs as those facing the adoption and implementation of DG. He advocated the creation of a policy and legal framework that will facilitate such a programme of adoption and implementation thus bridging the gap between national supply and demand. 

The lecture was critically acclaimed with the audience acknowledging the shoots of a shift in the long and short term strategies of transmission and distribution of electricity in Nigeria. 

Addressing the endemic problem of worsening power supply in Nigeria and its impact on socio-economic development, particularly in the context of the arbitrary target of 6000MV, was the theme of this year’s and the 10th Distinguished Electrical & Electronics Engineer Annual Lecture (DEEEAL). 


Consumer Protection Council Champions Customers’ Cause 

With the proliferation of ICT as a thriving industry in its own right as well as a driver of other sectors, there is the potential for extensive customer abuses within the sector. 

It is in recognition of this potential of prevalent abuse that the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), using knowledge support services of a foremost ICT Law firm, Technology Advisors, has taken up a pro-consumer initiative around which reform will be built. The Initiative, establishes a framework - the ICT Consumer Protection Enforcement Strategy – an umbrella under which structural deficiencies in customers’ protection such as poor service delivery, poor/no refund policies for, abusive sales promotion and uncompetitive pricing - are addressed by the propagation, implementation and enforcement of consumer rights statutorily backed by CPC Laws.  

This is an attempt to ensure that in the tide of ICT that has brought in socio-economic benefits does not sweep back out leaving consumers who are significant contributors in the commercial success of the industry behind with no rights or protection. The initiative – a collaborative effort with other regulators in the sector -will be fully operational in early 2010.  

 When imitation stops being a form of flattery 

Microsoft, it would appear, has spent most of 2009 fighting one battle or another. Despite this it continues to be mired by controversy. It was revealed that it had to temporarily shut down its MSN Juku micro-blogging site amidst claims that it plagiarised the work of a smaller rival. Earlier this week Plurk, a small start up company, revealed (including screen shot) an unhealthy resemblance their services and those of the considerable larger Microsoft who has not conclusively denied the allegation. Plurk, for their part, insisted that there is a difference between subtle imitation and blatant theft particularly when the indiscretion is by one of the largest software in the world. It unsurprisingly says it does not want to get drawn into some protracted legal battle but simply wants MSN Juku brought down 

On the issue of plagiarism, it is reasonable to conclude that if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then in all probability it is a duck.

Cyberschuulnews 367 trains and deploys 15 TAMAs 

As part of active preparation for the new phase of the magazine’s life which starts mid January 2010, the team was reinforced with deployment of 15 new Technical and Marketing Assistants (TAMAs) who embarked on  intensive training this weekend with a view to immediate deployment and in anticipation of the launch on 21 April 2010 in Lagos, when it goes commercial. an e-magazine which focuses on telecommunications and ICT commenced publication in 2001 with 46 subscribers, 367 weekly editions later, it now has  over 50,000 subscribers across all continents.


Chembe Ventures – On a New Frontier 

For decades, economists have said the developmental problems facing Africa are rooted in the combined and interdependent effects of the domestic entrepreneurial class being weak and consequently risk-averse as well as the issue of capital flight from decimated economies. To address the problem of inward investment, ICT projects are breaking new boundaries. One such mode is being carried out by Chembe Ventures - an Irish owned company which provides seed capital to mobile application developers, social media start-ups and web ventures in East and Southern Africa. 

Sean Murphy of Chembe Ventures said their brief was to ‘design and deploy a sustainable mobile phone application which helps people living in poor, densely populated urban communities address a specific or general security problem.  The solutions should include a description of the service, and a plan for sustainable deployment.’ Like many ventures of this nature, it is about empowering citizens living in low income and densely populated urban areas improve their lives through ICT. 

Chembe Ventures was officially launched in the summer of 2009 and so far has made two significant investments. The first investment is a Ugandan mobile social media network known as which goes public in February 2010. It is based on an application developed by two young Ugandan coders, which allows low-end mobile phone users to update their facebook profiles via SMS. The second investment is in a Kenyan event listings start-up, which hopefully will launch in the 2nd quarter of 2010. 

In partnership with Vodafone’s Betavine Social Exchange, it is also about to launch an investment competition for young East African mobile entrepreneurs.  


 “MISSING SCRIPT” debuts mid January 2010 

 Dr Hakeem Kunle Bello's column, "MISSING SCRIPTS" will start running when CyberschuulNews resumes from vacation. 

The column is designed to be a compendium of facts about telecommunications comparable to what our readers will receive form lectures on an accredited telecoms course delivered by a  professor in reputable citadel of learning  without certification  at the end of the course.  

The early editions will cover Cellular Radio Technologies, Standards & Systems and the Digital Epoch.

The author, a doctorate holder in telecommunications, is the former Managing Director of Mobile Telecommunications Ltd, Mtel and now a Consultant, lives in Abuja, Nigeria.  


Unilag Launches Internet connectivity project for all Nigerian Higher Educational Institutions in Lagos area, 

A new initiative aimed to facilitate and support network connectivity among all Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) in Lagos including monotechnics, polytechnics, colleges of education, Research Institutions and Universities in Lagos has been announced. 

Prof Charles Uwadia of the Centre for Information Technology and Systems, CITS, University of Lagos announced early this week that the programme will be launched on December 15, 2009 at the CITS Unilag, Akoka. 

All ICT Directors and their teams from all higher education institutions in Lagos and telecommunication companies are invited to the launch. It will start at 8.30am and it is free. 

The multi-institutional project is initiated by the University of Lagos in partnership with the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria and Datasphir Solutions. 


For more information, contact  Tel 01-7397052 


OAU honours Ndukwe with D.Sc (Honoris Causa)

Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife will this weekend confer the honorary degree of D.Sc on Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.  An announcement from the University’s Vice-Chancellor, says Ndukwe is being recognized for “his contribution to the telecommunications industry and to the socio-economic development of Nigeria”.


Sale of Zain to wait 

The frequently mentioned intention of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), to acquire Kuwaiti’s Zain may not go on for now. Many journals that should be believed have gone out with information that BSNL’s top man, Kuldeep Goyal, said the arrangement is, for now, put on hold. Even when the story was confirmed, the controversy in the entire deal was not hidden.


Zain, from all indications will let go itself if the folks with the right cash emerge. And that should throw up some regulatory challenge to emerging markets such as Nigeria, where Zain’s recent catch, Zain Nigeria, formerly Celtel, has been the most traded and therefore most re-named telecom commodity in the region. Zain Nigeria commenced business in 2001 as Econet Wireless and has since then born names such as Vodacom, VMobile, Celtel and now Zain all inspired by acquisition of it by moneybags. Emerging markets may soon start counting the cost of such hiccups on their citizens, both consumers and employees, and may choose to tamper with their laws on acquisition especially in such high risk sector such as telecommunication so the next moneybag does not just walk in to destabilize the market.


India bans mobile phones which have no ID Nos. 

Telecommunications authorities in India have now implemented an earlier directive given last August that all phones which do not bear identifiable 15-digit International Mobile Equipment Identification, or IMEI, number should not be allowed on any network in India. This is being implemented to arrest incidents of unidentified telephone misdemeanours including acts of terrorism. 


Nigeria: Lower phone tariff expected in 2010 

Phone users earnestly expect that new tariff may emerge in 2010 in Nigeria. Telephone regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, is known to have hired the services of Consultants to conduct a cost study and recommend changes that might be necessary in interconnection rates among telephone operators. Interconnect rates is an important component of what eventually constitute the final price a unit telephone call costs. 

The last time interconnect rate was reviewed was in June 2006 when the NCC directed that the interconnection rate for Fixed Call Termination using Near-end Handover shall be N10.80; that for Fixed Call Termination using Far-end Handover shall be N9.10 while the interconnection rate for Mobile Call Termination shall be N11.40.  

Earlier on December 2, 2003, the Commission published the Interconnection Rate of N11.52K which took effect from April 1, 2004. It was to remain valid and binding on licensed operators and the rates were to remain applicable for a minimum of eighteen months. MTN went to court to challenge the direction and lost the case. Another, Celtel, now Zain, also went to court but withdrew along the line. 

The 2003 Determination stated that the Commission would commence the process of conducting an in-depth study of cost based interconnection rates to take effect on the expiry of the eighteen month period. Given the complexities of commissioning and undertaking such a study and the need to consult affected parties, a study could not, according to the Commission, be commissioned, concluded and consulted upon so that any determination of rates could take effect on the expiry of the eighteen month period. On that basis, the Commission consulted on the extension of and amendment to the 2003 Determination pending the completion of the study. 

The Commission wrote to the operators on October 7, 2005 setting out a number of options, including that the network operators negotiate between themselves on agreeable rates, with the result of such negotiation to be communicated to the Commission within three months. The majority of the operators chose this option but considered that the period of three months was too long. 

According to the Commission at that time, the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators, ALTON, in a letter dated 25, October 2005, indicated that operators could not reach agreement. The Commission was also informed during a CEOs’ Forum of the 2005 Telecom Summit held on 7 November 2005 that agreement was unlikely. On 16 November 2005, the Commission was informed in a letter from the GSM Consultative Forum that the operators had not reached agreement. The Commission held a mediatory meeting on 8 December 2005 in order to assist the operators in their negotiations. During this meeting, a number of issues were raised, which were set out in the Consultation Paper. At the end of the meeting, the Commission again requested that the operators attempt to secure agreement. 

On the basis of letters subsequently received by the Commission from ALTON and other operators, it was clear that the operators were unable to reach an agreement and that they were unlikely to do so in the near future. By this stage, the three (3) month period given to operators on 7 October 2005 had expired. 

The Commission then went ahead to give the June 2006 direction. 

Phone tariff in Nigeria is contentious. Very expensive from point of view of consumers’ overall power of spending but understandable from point of view of cost of doing business, no thanks to the effects of corruption and unavailable energy.  

Businesses run with little regard to good corporate governance. Consultants who conducted an audit of ISP services in 2006 reported that ‘‘…There is a huge gap between demand and supply of bandwidth. The gap is brought about by consumers’ inability to buy bandwidth and this inability is accentuated by an indescribable and worsening access to basic public electricity supply across the entire country…’ 

It did not matter much to consumers whose euphoric acquisition of SIM cards reached unbelievable levels fired by new found access to telephone in the early days of gsm phones. It took a nosedive of quality of service five years after for consumers to wake to the reality of the cost they paid. And they took it first on operators and later on the regulator. 

It will be strange for the new study not to see a basis to adjust interconnect rates downwards. At least slightly. 


KUNLE BELLO writes for CyberschuulNews
as “MISSING SCRIPT” debuts


Telecommunications expert, Dr Hakeem Kunle Bello, has accepted to write a regular column for CyberschuulNews. The column to be named THE MISSING SCRIPT, is designed to be a compendium of facts about telecoms, be it wired (fixed), wireless (full mobile) or fixed-mobile (mixed) that would be equivalent to sitting in front of a college professor & receiving lectures on a telecoms course but without bagging any diploma or degree at the end of the long semi-online course. All you need do is, subscribe to and you are on to the telecoms-made-easy column.  

It will start running in the New Year. 

The author, a doctorate holder in telecommunications who had record of researched works in digital technology, is a telecommunications consultant of repute whose last public post was Managing Director/CEO of Mobile Telecommunications Ltd, Mtel. He lives in Abuja, Nigeria. 

At the outset of this premier venture, it would be strictly like reading a book albeit queries could be posted to the author’s personal e-mail box -   

By design, the column would take-off with the wireless (mobile) aspect as this is the currently most-sought-after technology beyond its complementary but competing predecessor- the wired (fixed) genre and of course, the hybrid, i.e. the fixed-wireless counterpart. Each MS shall to a large extent, be an easily readable standalone to assist readers who may inadvertently miss any MISSING SCRIPT and because of its very compelling nature, the reader might want to do a catch-up. However, a continuous & seamless reading is recommended to enhance a thorough understanding of the subject matter & its attendant throughput. 

The stuff will not be exclusive to telecoms engineers or practitioners as MS derives its simplicity & comprehension from first principles’ presentations that calibrate or graduate therefrom to today’s seemingly complex & topical issues as Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (Wimax) and (its complement) 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 8, Long Time Evolution (LTE) that is currently touted as 4th Generation (4G) mobile (radio) communications technology, designed to increase the capacity & speed of mobile telephone networks. 

Meet MS come 2010.




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