Of telcos, OTTs and cyber-security threat

Posted by News Express | 7 August 2019 | 2,605 times

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Issues bothering on challenges posed by Over-The-Top companies (OTTs) in Nigeria – which includes data protection and privacy issues – took centre stage at the 2019 Telecom Executives and Regulator’s Forum in Lagos, with telecom operators in the country calling on the Federal Government to explore ways of deriving economic value from their operations.

Expounding on the operations of these OTT platforms, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp – which challenges they noted run down to revenue and network traffic conflicts with telcos, security concerns, interconnection and network infrastructure usage regulation and policies on Cloud computing and cyber-security threats – all amount to very serious national security threat.

Digesting the topic “Regulation and Policies on Cloud Computing and Cyber-security Threat in Nigeria”, a mild agreement for localising all national data to about 80 per cent in the next five years; as against the 30 per cent being projected by regulators through the National Data Regulatory Foundation (NDRF) for the same time period.

However, Ms Funke Opeke, Chief Executive Officer, MainOne Limited, opposed stifling the operations of the OTTs by taxing users of social media platforms and content providers, as was being done in certain African countries, describing OTT providers as economic enablers.

In his keynote address, Prof Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), revealed that some ministries, department and agencies have collaborated to deploy an end-to-end technology-based solution that will tackle importation of fake ICT devices into the country.

The agreement, which he said was reached after deliberations with stakeholders in the telecom industry and relevant government agencies, shall run a technology called Mobile Device Management System (MDMS) that would block stolen, fake and illegal devices from operators’ network.

Represented at the forum by Mohammed Babajika, NCC’s Director, Policy Competition and Economic Analysis Development, Danbatta explained: “The proposed MDMS will have the capacity to facilitate the mandatory registration of all SIM-based devices in Nigeria, block all stolen, counterfeit, illegal or otherwise substandard SIM-based devices from operators’ networks. The system will interface with the Nigeria Customs Service, tax authority, security agencies, Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and other relevant agencies to ensure the full registration, payment of duties and taxes due on those devices, and the protection of security and privacy of users in Nigeria.”

He noted that there were over 40 million Nigerians yet to be reached with basic telecom infrastructure and services. Pointing at the capital intensity of the industry, he stressed the need for service providers to increase their infrastructure deployment to satisfy the ever-increasing demand and create room for doubling the size of this investment in the next 10 years. He inferred: “The NCC roadmap for broadband has created new frontiers for investment. The quest for data and social media, as well as the increasing value-added services create new frontiers for investments. Therefore, the desire for investment in the sector will continue to grow as the size of the network increases.”

Danbatta reiterated that robust telecommunications network was important for economic growth, which is achievable through investment, saying the NCC has consistently provided the enabling environment for growth and a level playing field for competition in the industry.

Earlier in his welcome address, Olusola Teniola, ATCON president, noted the sad consequences of technology disruptions in the industry, adding that such should be met with regulations and policies that would enable operators to thrive. In his words, “new business models must be evolved by our members, but regulation and policies also need to be reviewed, fine-tuned and strengthened so that all and sundry can remain in business. To this end, new capacities must be developed to match the new opportunities that the new ecosystem is presenting.

Industry leaders who served as panel chairs for the four segments at the forum were Ms Opeke, Formulation of Policy and Regulation for OTTs: Challenges and Prospects; Mr Yusuf Kazure, MD/CEO, Galaxy Backbone, Funding Telecoms and ICT Investment in Nigeria: How would the Deficit in the Nigerian Telecom Infrastructure be Financed?; Eradication of the influx of cloned and fake phones and other telecoms devices in Nigeria: The role of NCC, Nigerian Customs, SON, and other Relevant Government Agencies; Mr Ayotunde Coker, MD/CEO, Rack Centre Limited, Regulation and Policies on Cloud Computing and Cyber-security threats in Nigeria.

The panel discussants are also made up of leading figures in the Nigerian telecom and ICT sector, while Standard Organisation of Nigeria, banks and Lagos Business School, were some other organisations present at the forum.

Source: News Express

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