BY LINDA JACOBS, Lagos, Nigeria
Nigeria’s Mobile Network Operators (MNO) and deposit money banks (DMBs) will henceforth negotiate Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) pricing rates that will be mutually beneficial to all parties concerned.
This follows revision by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) of its Determination on USSD pricing published on the 23rd of July, 2019.
The amendment was necessitated following a protracted dispute between Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and financial institutions on the applicable charges for USSD services and the method of billing.
NCC in a statement signed by its public affairs director, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde said as a responsive and effective regulatory authority, it recognize that its policies are not static and may be modified from time to time as circumstances demand.
Adinde said, “The executive vice chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, in the interest of the consumers and other stakeholders, has revised the Determination previously issued by removing the Price Floor and the Cap to allow the Mobile Network Operators and the banks negotiate rates that will be mutually beneficial to all parties concerned.
The NCC also determined that Mobile Network Operators must not charge the consumers directly for the use of USSD channels for financial services in the form of end-user-billing. The transaction should be between the MNOs and the entity to which the service is provided (i.e. Banks and Financial Institutions).
This is coming on the heels of a recent directive by the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, regarding a review of the USSD pricing by all parties involved, following a presentation made by the Commission on the billing structure, determination of USSD pricing, current status and the way forward.
Speaking during the presentation, the Minister stated that he took the decision to suspend the commencement of end-user billing (where the consumers are charged directly from their airtime balance for use of USSD channels as opposed to corporate billing where the banks paid the MNOs for the use of USSD service) because he was “genuinely besieged with a barrage of complaints at the attempted commencement of end-user billing by service providers.”
The Minister also clarified that “USSD is a service to banks and not to the Telecom Consumers, and as such, banks should see themselves as corporate customers of telecom operators with a duty to pay for using the telecom network and infrastructure, including USSD channels extended to them for service delivery to their customers.”
According to him, “Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have no direct relationship to bank customers, and cannot therefore charge directly for usage of USSD channel.”
The USSD channel has evolved over time from a telco-exclusive channel used for only telco services such as balance inquiry and recharges to a channel for the deployment of a broad spectrum of services, including financial, insurance, agricultural, government services and more.
The use of USSD channel has become a critical resource in the economy even more so in this era of the Covid-19 pandemic that has witnessed a rise in reliance on digital services. A copy of the Determination is available on the NCC’s website, www.ncc.gov.ng.
ipNX Partners Oyo State On Free Internet for Public Secondary Schools
PHOTO: L- R: Group Executive Director, Commercials ipNX, Bimpe Olaleye, Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Oyo State, Barr. Olasunkanmi Olaleye, Chief of Staff to the Governor of Oyo State, Chief Bisi Ilaka, Group Executive Director, HR & Corporate Services, ipNX, Folashade Efiong-Bassey, and Special Assistant to the Governor of Oyo State On ICT & E-governance, Bayo Akande at the handover ceremony of free high-speed broadband internet connectivity to public secondary schools in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Thursday, October 8, 2020.
Nigeria’s pioneering and leading information, communications and technology (ICT) company, ipNX, has partnered with the Oyo State government to provide free high speed broadband internet connection to two public secondary schools in the State in a bid to improve access to technology for students and teachers.
The initiative is in continuation of ipNX’s broader CSR for Education Programme and Oyo State Internet Programme for Schools.
With access to high speed broadband connection from ipNX, teachers and students of Government College Ibadan and Bishop Phillips Academy, Monatan –– the first set of Oyo State schools selected for the project –– are empowered to fully appropriate the benefits of modern technology in the classroom.
The facility was handed over to the two institutions in Ibadan on Thursday October 8, 2020, at a ceremony which had in attendance Chief of Staff to the Oyo State Governor, Chief Bisi Ilaka, Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Barrister Sunkanmi Olaleye, Special Adviser (SA) on ICT and E-Governance to the Governor, Mr Bayo Akande, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Alhaja Atere Aminat Bamidele, Chief Technology Architect, ipNX Mr Seun Oluboyo, as well as Principals and students of the schools.
The schools will enjoy individual 10Mbps (Megabit per second) internet service free for five years in the first instance, and renewable thereafter.
According to Group Executive Director, HR & Corporate Services, ipNX, Folashade Efiong-Bassey, “With ipNX’s superior broadband infrastructure, we are providing Oyo state public secondary schools within our path of fibre coverage, with free high speed internet connectivity to enable thousands of students and teachers appropriate the benefits of technology in the classroom.
“We believe this will facilitate the goals of the State in improving the education, science and technology sectors, which is a vision of the administration of His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde. Moreover, this initiative complements the recent Federal Government intention to implement Zero-rating for education websites as part of efforts to ameliorate the impact of Covid-19 on Nigeria’s education sector.”
As an organisation, a major portion of ipNX’s corporate social investment has been dedicated to education, and since 2011, the company has provided free internet service to 55 public secondary schools in Lagos state.
As one of Nigeria’s pioneering ICT companies, and a leading Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) operator, ipNX believes that world-class connectivity and broadband access to the internet will provide more opportunities for students and teachers to find the best practices, create new solutions, connect and inspire each other, all towards the achievement of better learning outcomes. The empowerment of students in this way is pivotal to the digital transformation and socio-economic development of Nigeria.
MTN Nigeria Launches Visitor SIM for Inbound International Travellers
MTN Nigeria this night announced the introduction of its new Visitor SIM specially designed for guests travelling into the country.
The Visitor SIM comes pre-loaded with an appealing package that includes local and international call and data bundles. This package will enable people visiting from other countries to stay connected with their friends, family and business associates on MTN’s super-fast network.
MTN Visitor SIMs are easy for inbound international visitors to acquire, activate and use, in addition to which they offer far better value than any roaming tariff. Not available from any other operator, the service is poised to deliver convenience and the best-in-class customer experience in line with MTN’s brand promise.
According to Adekunle Adebiyi, Chief Sales and Distribution Officer, MTN Nigeria, “The new Visitor SIMs will ensure that before setting foot outside the airport, people visiting Nigeria can plug in, reconnect – to loved ones, associates, tools and information, and begin sharing their remarkable experiences, with no concern about roaming charges.”
MTN Visitor SIMs are available in the arrival halls of international airports and other ports of entry. They are valid for 14 days, which can be extended up to 30 days via MTN’s self-service menus or USSD.
For more information about this service, please visit https://www.mtnonline.com/visitors-sim-plan or dial *123*7*1# to locate the nearest MTN store.
TECNO Debunks Fake Report On Mobile Security Flaw
TECNO has debunked the rumour making rounds on some blogs about TECNO phones being pre-installed with malware on their low end phones, saying the Triada issue was old and solved mobile security that was fixed back in 2018.
According to a statement sent to SiliconNigeria today by TECNO, back in March 2018, TECNO identified that the Triada issue affected only a version of W2 devices across all series of TECNO mobile phones. At the initial time of detecting the issue, we put together a security team to work on the solution.
“Consequently, we released the first official OTA fix to users on March 20th 2018, with rigorous system tests and GMS test set out by Google. By April 30th 2018, the official OTA fixes adapted for different versions of W2 devices were released, assuring that the problem was fixed once the consumer accepted the system update by installing the fix.
“For current W2 users facing Triada issue presently, we advise that they download the OTA fix on their phone for installation, or contact TECNO’s after-sales service support for assistance.”
The leading phone maker by sales in Nigeria and Africa stated that, “At TECNO, we have always attached great importance to users’ data security and products safety. Every single software installed on each device runs through a series of rigorous security checks, such as our own security scan platform, Google Play Protect, GMS BTS and VirusTotal test.
“In addition, a 90-day security patch update is periodically delivered to TECNO users to ensure that the security of our products and the protection of users’ devices from malware are not compromised.
“xHelper, which is similar to Triada, is a separate global mobile security issue that first appeared in 2019. We have deployed professional security tools such as GMS BTS and VirusTotal to detect the xHelper issue since last November.
“All of TECNO’s new releases and software maintenance for old products must go through the test. No reports of xHelper have ever been detected since then,” its added.
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