NCC makes move for 3G services

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April 24, 2006/punch





Third generation mobile telephone services could make a debut in Nigeria sooner than expected, as the Nigerian Communications Commission has commenced steps towards developing a framework for its rollout.

The move by the Commission follows what it described as demand from operators and the need to respond to subscribers’ desires in the country.

3G is short for third-generation technology, used usually in the context of cell phones. The services associated with 3G provide the ability to transfer both voice data (a telephone call) and non-voice data (such as downloading information, exchanging email, and instant messaging). Video telephony, a service that allows persons making calls to see themselves, is generally considered as “killer” application for 3G.

“The Commission has in recent times received requests from operators for services and permits to enable them rollout 3rd Generation mobile services,” Head, Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Dave Imoko, said.

Imoko added, “It is also of the desire of the commission to provide consumers the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of enriched telecoms services such as video streaming, mobile Internet, e-commerce, and content provisioning

To ensure the success of the planned introduction of the service, NCC will be convening a meeting with industry stakeholders on Monday (today).

According to Imoko, issues to be discussed will include spectrum requirements for 3G, technology options, best method for assigning the limited spectrum available, time frame and other relevant issues.

Indeed, the need to discuss these issues had become necessary following the problems that 3G licensees faced in some countries that have introduced the service earlier.

At the inception of the service, a certain euphoria was created, which led to huge spectrum-licensing fees in many countries, especially in Europe, where spectrum auctions generated many billions of euros for the respective countries. Since these spectrum licensing fees were collected many years before any income could be expected from 3G business, and since enormous investments are necessary to build the 3G networks, many telecommunication operators got into great financial difficulties, which greatly delayed 3G roll-out.

Only Japan and South Korea, were spared such problems because such spectrum licensing fees were avoided since priority was set on national IT infrastructure development. South Africa which introduced the service in 2005, also did not go through such licensing exercise.

Another reason for the discussion is probably informed by the fact that some networks in Nigeria were already 3G capable. For instance, CDMA 2000 1X, used by many fixed wireless operators is a 3G technology. They have however been unable to switch on the functionality in their networks because the NCC had not allowed that.

Explaining further the motive for the meeting, NCC’s Head of Public Affairs, Mr. Dave Imoko, said it was to give opportunity to contribute to the modalities for 3G deployment in Nigeria, NCC will be organising a consultative forum to discuss the matter.

The first country which introduced 3G on a large commercial scale was Japan. In 2005 about 40 per cent of subscribers use 3G networks only, and 2G is on the way out in Japan. It is expected that during 2006 the transition from 2G to 3G will be largely completed in Japan, and upgrades to the next 3.5G stage with 3 Mbit/per second data rates is underway.

From the foregoing, it is hoped Nigeria may soon join the service.

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