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New dawn for telecom businesses as telepresence berths

By Prince Osuagwu
Except for some few innovations in recent times, technology has always sounded hoarse and scary to almost all Nigerians who ten years ago were actually out of the world ICT order. But the debut of Global System for Mobile Communications, GSM,  in 2001, however tried to demystify the tech-scare, bracing all odds to make even the rural women users of technologies that were hitherto considered exclusive rights of the elite class.

Besides demystifying technology, GSM has also put the nation in the global map and in the forefront of ICT growing nations across the world. This is going by the level of business attracted into the country within such a little space of time.

However, the growing businesses also depend on technology to thrive and that is where developed nations still hold the ace. Despite thriving business environment in Nigeria, there exists bottlenecks and a lull in fast decision making desirous of new generation business operations, owing to the time it takes to consult relevant stakeholders, particularly for companies with scattered departments and branches.

This is when technologies like telepresence, video conferencing, give  seamless touch to business operations in developed environments.

But in an apparent display of “Big brother” in the Nigerian telecommunications market, MTN Nigeria in collaboration with Cisco, last week, decided to bridge the gap, bringing to the entire Nigerian business environment ePresence, a technology that facilitates easy decision making and eliminates the security risk of travelling for meetings.

Being the first in Sub-Saharan Africa, the new development added to Nigeria’s lead in the telecommunications growth in Africa. MTN said it leveraged on CISCO’s mobile communications technology, telepresence, to launch the new service. It revealed that the service was not only meant to leverage the businesses of Nigerian ICT players but the entire Nigerian economy.

e-Presence, according to MTN is the first telepresence experience to be launched in the whole of Africa and Nigeria’s robust telecom market deserved to have the first shot at it. The service was launched simultaneously in three regions of the country, including Lagos, Portharcourt and Abuja.

Unveiling the service at the Southern Sun Hotel Ikoyi Lagos, yesterday, Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr Ahmad Farroukh, said the reason for bringing the service to Nigeria was to ease the travel and logistic bottlenecks experienced by the many fledging businesses in the country, adding that the time, money and risk expended on travels to have meeting by large companies in Nigeria, could be channelled to other meaningful activities.

According to him, “ Nigeria is a very important market and if there is any new ground to be broken, we ensure that MTN brings it about. Its not easy combining activities in three regions in Nigeria and what we have done in epresence, launching in Lagos, Abuja and Portharcourt is like bringing the whole of Nigeria together.

I know that just like me, many Chief executives in Nigeria do not want to travel as much as they do not want to pay huge travel allowances, so epresence is the answer.

“We have decided to make the processes easy without subscriptions or high fees, any company or business concern can only book from the three centres where we have launched the services today and the idea of running the risk of travelling and expending huge travel allowance is drastically minimised” he added.

Telepresence is a new business solution that offers an in-person video conferencing experience with life-sized images in full high definition video and crisp CD quality audio. With telepresence, large organisations can hold meetings with branches in different locations across the country and make presentations, share opinions and documents as if in the same room.

MTN said it was easy for it to launch into the Cisco telepresence technology because it had invested in a robust fibre network that would ensure no drop call interceptions or interruptions while the meeting was going on. The service is also said to be ideal for small and medium scale businesses who would take advantage of the low cost per session booking in the public places where the services are launched today, to cut cost in their businesses.


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