Nigeria’s Minister of communications and digital economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, has said that the federal government is targeting 90 per cent broadband penetration in most parts of the country, stressing that the president Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has recorded a 45 per cent increase in broadband penetration from the 30 per cent rate achieved from 2000.
The minister disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, at a briefing organised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) professional forum while giving account of his stewardship in that capacity, a statement issued yesterday by the minister’s spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman said.
He noted that this quantum leap represents a 10 per cent increase within a year, from the period of September 2019 to November 2020.
He told journalists that the unprecedented success in the area of broadband penetration was due to the enabling policies established by the federal government in its commitment to digitalise Nigeria.
“On assumption of office, we had a statistic of 50 million Nigerians with no access to telecommunication facilities. We developed the National Broadband Plan 2020-2030 which targets a 90 per cent penetration rate in terms of population and a 70 per cent rate in terms of our total land mass within the next two years.
“It also targets a speed of 25mbps for urban areas while a 10mbps speed is targeted for rural areas. So far, we have been able to achieve a 10 per cent increase just within a year which brings the success rate to 45 per cent. This is unprecedented and it is because of the president’s commitment to a digital Nigeria and support in approving our policies,” he said.
Dr Pantami noted that a digital economy is an enabler of all sectors and its importance cannot be underscored, as only digital economies will be relevant in global affairs in the near future.
DSA Lauds NCC, NigComSAT For Spectrum Agreement
The Executive Director, Operations at DigitalSENSE Africa, Mrs. Nkem Nweke, has applauded the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Nigeria Communications Satellite (NigComSAT), saying it paves way for digital cooperation, especially on frequency spectrum management for the forthcoming fifth generation networks (5G).
DigitalSENSE Africa is a project of ITREALMS Media group, and accredited as an At-Large Structure (ALS) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Welcoming participants at the 12th edition of the Nigeria DigitalSENSE Forum series on Internet Governance for Development (IG4D) with the theme: Digital Cooperation: Enhancing Multistakeholder Governance for Digital Economy, held at the Golden Tulip Essential Hotel, Lagos, Mrs. Nweke noted that the theme was specifically chosen to focus attention on the role of Internet Governance in driving digital cooperation to boost governance in a digital economy.
She pointed out that there was evident recently in Nigeria when the telecom regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigeria Communications Satellite (NigComSAT) entered a deal with the signing of an MoU as part of digital cooperation in anticipation for the Fifth Generation (5G) network in the country.
She quoted the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta at the ceremony, as saying that the MoU would facilitate the release of contiguous bandwidth in one of the most suitable Frequency Spectrum band(s) for early deployment of Fifth Generation Network (5G) services.
Recall that the Frequency Spectrum bands allocated to 5G by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) includes the C-band (3.4GHz – 3.9GHz) which stands out because its balancing point between coverage and capacity provides the perfect environment for 5G connectivity.
This, she considered worthy of celebration for what most industry stakeholders tagged ‘5G Marriage.’
Also, she noted that recently, DigitalSENSE Africa in continuous advocacy engagement joined forces in expressing support on “open, interconnected and interoperable Internet by appending our signature to this call.”
She emphasised that the open, interconnected and interoperable Internet is increasingly under threat, and stressed that technical, legislative and policy developments have furthered the risk that the Internet fragments into siloed parts.
These developments, Mrs Nweke noted, include bans or restrictions on international data flows; techno-protectionist initiatives, interference with free expression, privacy, and/or encryption; and Internet shutdowns – among other hazards.
She maintained that “these developments may pose a threat to the open, interconnected and interoperable Internet, along with its associated benefits to social and economic development, while also harming human rights.”
She expressed excitement that this achievement and MoU came at a time when a female Managing Director of NigComSAT, Dr. Abimbola Alale is in office.
NDSF2021 was chaired by Dr. Olusoji Okunoye of University of Lagos (UNILAG) who stood in for the President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Adesina Sodiya and also featured other speakers including Dr. Alale who was represented by the Acting Manager Marketing, Mrs Ibiye Ukoko, President, Institute of Software Practitioners (ISPON), Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, Mr. Aderemi Adejumo of CloudFlex, Mr. Mohammed Rudman represented by Mr. Jacob Dagunduro, Mr. Francis Uzor of Wisdom Computer Technologies, and Nnenna Nwakanma, Chief Web Advocate of World Wide Web Foundation, to name a few.
Ericsson Unveils Radio For FDD 5G Frequency Capacity Boost
Ericsson is launching Radio 6626, a unique three-sector dual-band radio to help service providers increase their Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) 5G frequency capacity, even as their site towers already have 2G, 3G and 4G radios.
The latest addition to Ericsson’s radio portfolio will provide multi-standard and multi-band coverage while bringing down costs and reducing footprint – up to 50 percent lower energy consumption.
The three-sector dual-band Radio 6626 combines two frequencies and six ports in one unit, enabling one radio to power all three sectors on the tower. This 6T6Rradio supports 2G to 5G mobile standards.
Available in a 900 MHZ and 800 MHZ dual-band version, as well as 1800 MHZ and 2100 MHZ dual band, Radio 6626 arms CSPs with added support to boost capacity while addressing cost-related challenges.
Powered by Ericsson Silicon, Ericsson Radio 6626 can provide 720W of output power and weighs under 45kg.
The new product’s efficiency is driven by tight hardware and software co-design.
Ericsson is also launching the Voltage Booster 6640, which minimizes the need for new cabling, as it expands the power capacity to the radios by up to 50 percent using existing cables. By adding the Voltage Booster rather than swapping cables, the service provider can save up to 70 percent of hardware and installation costs.
The end-to-end offering also includes:
- Baseband 6631: the latest multi-standard RAN Compute pathway for towers that run multiple technologies from 2G to 5G
- Microwave-based MINI-LINK 6352: adds up to 10Gbps with E-band, aggregating with existing microwave radios. The multi-band booster design increases backhaul capacity with zero footprint and reduced OPEX
The new products complement the recently launched ultra-light Massive MIMO and RAN Compute portfolios – aimed at making it easier for CSPs to roll out commercial 5G services.
David Hammarwall, Head of Product Line Radio, Ericsson, says: ”Our new triple-sector, dual-band radio offers an opportunity for communications service providers to significantly reduce radio footprint and installation time needed on site, while at the same time lowering total power consumption by up to 50 percent. This will help our customers to increase capacity and further accelerate 5G coverage with the ubiquitous FDD bands.”
Patrick Pisal-Hamida, Group Chief Executive Officer, Telma Madagascar, says: “The new multi-band, multi-sector, high-power radios from Ericsson will meet Telma’s need for more efficient tower upgrades. They will bring tangible Opex benefits in minimizing power consumption, weight on tower, and faster rollout. We are excited to deploy Ericsson’s multi-standard technology solutions with the smallest footprint in the industry.”
Bridging The Digital Gap: Why We Should Never Give Up On Universal Broadband Connectivity
By Leo Chen, President of Huawei Southern Africa Region
Over the past year or so, digital transformation accelerated at an unprecedented rate in societies around the world. Whether we were working, learning, or staying in touch with friends and family, being online became more critical than ever.
Even as vast numbers of people were adapting to their new realities, however, it became increasingly apparent that equally large numbers of people were shut out from being able to do so. Given that the theme of this year’s Telecommunication & Information Society Day, which took place on 17 May, is “Accelerating Digital Transformation in challenging times”, it’s worth examining how big that gap is and how it can be bridged.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, approximately 800-million people are not connected to the mobile internet. Of those, some 520-million can access the mobile internet but don’t, because of factors such as smartphone penetration and lack of skills while 270-million cannot access the mobile internet because they don’t have the requisite coverage. Across the region, 4G broadband coverage is at just 21 percent.
The figures are even more stark when it comes to fixed-line internet connectivity. According to figures from research firm Ovum, there are just 6.6-million fixed-line internet subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa. While numbers are projected to grow three-fold by 2023, that still represents a small fraction of the region’s population. Those figures make it clear that the region needs to address a major internet infrastructure shortfall.
The benefits of growing internet accessibility and access are obvious. In 2019, in Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 650 000 jobs were supported directly by the mobile ecosystem and more than 1.4-million informal jobs in 2019. It also contributed more than US$17-billion to public funding through the course of the year.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has also established that a 10% increase in mobile broadband penetration in Africa would generate an increase of 2.5% in GDP per capita. That’s to say nothing of the benefits that better and more affordable mobile internet can have on education, healthcare, and government services. With easily accessible internet connectivity, people can search for jobs, gain new skills, and access government services without having to travel to a physical location and potentially stand in long queues.
As we have seen, the pandemic has caused economic and social devastation and changed the way we live, work, study and socialize, bringing about an era of social distancing. One of the most significant changes is the acceleration of digital transformation. African policymakers have realised that access to broadband is critical for mitigating the effects of the pandemic and boosting economic recovery in the post-Covid era. With changes in people’s behaviours and mindsets, broadband will also continue to provide opportunities for African countries to leapfrog obstacles to sustainable and inclusive socioeconomic development.
Of course, the responsibility to create access doesn’t lie with government alone. Corporates also have a role to play. At Huawei, we recognise this and have backed a number of initiatives that aim to help grow access in areas where it’s needed most. In July last year, for example, we launched the DigiSchool project in partnership with a local operator and anon-profit organisation. As response to the call to ensure that all South African school children can read fluently for meaning, the programme aims to connect more than 100 urban and rural primary schools to broadband internet.
Additionally, we’ve rolled out DigiTrucks in several African countries, which enable everyone from students to entrepreneurs to learn how to use computers and connect with the digital world. Earlier this year, we also announced a partnership with Ghanaian operators to build more than 2000 base stations in remote areas of that country to connect the unconnected.
From a healthcare perspective, meanwhile, with the broadband connections, Lifebank, a pioneering Nigerian startup that delivers blood and other essential medical supplies to hospitals. By keeping the startup and its riders connected, we can ensure that hospitals get urgent supplies when they are needed.
These kinds of projects, however, only serve to illustrate how much need for accessible, affordable broadband there really is across Sub-Saharan Africa. They represent a glimpse at the kind of access that everyone should have and which players across society should look to provide.
For more than a decade, the United Nations has recognised that the internet is a catalyst for sustainable development. As the events of the past year or so have shown, however, far too many people are unable to enjoy those rights because they lack access and connectivity. We will all benefit from widening access and bridging this divide. There is no question that it should be a major priority for governments, corporates, and civil society players alike and that it should be an ongoing one.
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