November 22, 2022

Towards adopting new technologies in the telecom sector


By Zeenat Sambo

IT is gratifying that the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, ordered MTN and Airtel to immediately reverse the hike in their data tariff plan, which they had implemented on their respective networks recently.

MTN and Airtel subscribers suddenly realised that the operators had commenced a new data tariff plan which was an upward review of the cost of their voice and data plan, without prior notice. Following complaints by the telecom subscribers over the hike, NCC, in a statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka, ordered the mobile network operators to reverse the hike. 

According to NCC, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, had maintained that his priority was to protect the citizens and ensure justice for all stakeholders involved. As such, anything that would bring more hardship at this critical time would not be accepted, they added. Telecommunication plays a prominent role in the digital transformation of economies.

Through various telecom technologies, millions of people around the world can access information, communicate, and interact without any obstruction. To be tech trendy means to evolve, to evolve means to innovate, and innovation backed by spontaneity and creativity is a unique advantage to achieve through telecom tech integration in the country. 

Over time, the rapid growth and deployment of new technologies to upgrade telecommunications in Nigeria have repositioned the telecom sector as the wiring aid for digital communication across sectors of the economy. Thus, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has relentlessly reaffirmed its commitment to promoting the deployment and adoption of emerging technologies like the Internet of Things, IoT, the utilization of big data, blockchain, virtual reality, robotics, and artificial intelligence, AI, among others, to stimulate a larger economic impact for the sector.

While addressing stakeholders at a cyberchain conference in Abuja, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta noted that the telecom sector has been a key promoter of Nigerian economic activities, transforming the way people live and work as well as increasing efficiency in other sectors of the economy.

The rapid pace of technological advancement makes it imperative that network providers adopt digital solutions and platforms to deal with the telecommunications sector’s major digital shift. Interestingly, IoT technology and location-based sensors like GPS will enable the creation of personal security solutions with location-tracking capabilities.

Compared to previous tracking methods, GPS will provide extremely accurate location information for mobile objects and people. With the advancement of GPS technology and its ability to send existing users’ locations to the cloud platform for further processing, it will be easier to evaluate data and translate it into language-based encoded information that is easy to understand.

For instance, with the advancement in telecommunications technology, Nigeria’s military communications in conflict zones will be able to detect enemies with relative ease. Communication and control methods that are network-based will enable the armed forces to be more efficient, support intelligence gathering and communication between allies, and sometimes come in handy for quelling or defeating adversaries.

Military neck microphones, handsets, headsets, speakers, combat network radios and accessories, high-frequency land/mobile radio tactical communications, and other gadgets used in warfare will be technologically upgraded to fight insecurity in the country. Telecom operators and users can also utilise GPS tracking technology to understand supply chains, track goods, locate workers, and improve business efficiency.

Today, many Nigerian businesses rely heavily on telecommunications networks to maintain effective and efficient contact between employees, workers, and clients/customers. By integrating network management, companies can better track and control existing telecom expenses, ensure an error-free network, and improve performance, which is intended to grow profit and reduce paper workloads.

Again, operations system support and business support, OSS-BSS, integration is expected to provide telecom operators with the opportunity for growth and increased profitability. As customer demands evolve, telecom operators need to integrate IT and network services to remain competitive. In the long run, this will result in cost savings and the ability to invest in unique opportunities.

The deployment of fibre optic cables and other telecom equipment by mobile network operators, MNOs, across Nigeria is entirely aimed at expanding the network infrastructure across the country to provide consumers with more efficient services in one visible step toward telecom growth. Another landmark shift was the growth of 5G technology to support the delivery of ubiquitous broadband services and usher Nigeria into a more robust Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR.

The advancement in telecom technology also calls for an increase in bandwidth. Considering that the demand for bandwidth is at an all-time high, the evolution of the IoT, mobile applications, cloud-based applications, and other high-capacity activities will continue to drive the need for further bandwidth.

An upgraded telecommunications infrastructure can help workers work more efficiently by improving the flow of data and ensuring user privacy and data security. Presently, many businesses thrive on digital collaboration, from video conferences to cloud-based training. Thus, multimedia capabilities have become essential for connecting products and services to meet the needs of customers and employees.

Content creation has become a major source of income for many internet users. More and more subscribers/users are expected to create their own content in the future. This is not to mention how digital giants spend billions of dollars on content creation to accelerate technological advances in their businesses.

As telecom technology advances, so do telecom sector operators. Nigerian telecom companies like MTN and Airtel have recently decided to expand their operations into the financial services sector to include the provision of different business models and distribution channels.

In granting Payment Service Bank, PSB, licences to the two major telecommunications companies, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, noted that it is enhancing financial inclusion and developing the payment system through technology-driven environments that are secure and reliable. Despite Nigeria’s technological advancement, glitches in telecommunications and internet services make it difficult for businesses and banks to respond quickly to emergencies.

While many telecom infrastructures have been vandalised over time, and the issue becomes worse when poor telecom services affect service delivery, the fight to ensure technological integration by many telecom service providers promises a brighter prospect of achieving top-notch services in the telecom sector.

Additionally, the majority of telecom customers have experienced problems downloading and uploading content, thus, the need to integrate and adopt new technological solutions in the telecom sector is a wake-up call for all players in the ecosystem. Awareness, support, and inclusion of all to ensure a more vibrant and robust telecom sector are imperative to achieving a thriving digital economy. As NCC, NITDA, telecom service providers, and other stakeholders are geared toward the fourth industrial revolution, they need to ensure the development and integration of seamless telecommunication services to achieve a smart society.

Sambo, a Staff Writer with Tech Digest and Economic Confidential, wrote from Wuye Abuja