Tremendous changes have been witnessed in telecommunication industry across the globe in the last two decades. This has been linked to different technological innovations developed by key actors in the industry. For instance, fixed and mobile telephony systems that were accessible only to the affluent are now available to the low-medium income earners too.
Like other emerging countries in the world, the rate at which telecom industry is changing in Nigeria is exceptional. At the first launch of global digital mobile communication in 2001, MTN and Econet, first entrants in the industry, recorded over 500,000 subscribers. As at today, the subscription base is still growing and the sector continues to be one of the key drivers of the country’s economic growth.
According to the recent data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), over 148 million Nigerians subscribed to mobile telecommunication services and 93 million are Internet users in 2015. In the same year, the sector contributed over ₦1.3 billion representing 8.38% of the total economic output of the Nigerian economy in the first quarter of 2015, according to government information. NCC has also recently predicted that the sector Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will surpass 25 percent by 2025.
With the significant changes in the industry, customers are now demanding for improved quality of services. This is as a result of having the option to access and pay for different telecom services from different operators. Maximum satisfaction has become a difficult task to achieve due to mismatch between the expansion in customer base and insufficient infrastructural (Network) services. Poor infrastructure has resulted into network congestion, call setup failure, call drop among others.
In the spirit of change mantra of the present administration, NCC, the country’s regulatory body for the sector, developed a strategic plan for quality of service improvement. The plan, which is expected to serve as a guide for the agency, will help in promoting the availability of reliable, interoperable, rapidly restorable critical information and communications technology infrastructure that are supportive of all required services.
The agency specifically aims at strengthening measures for Quality of Service (QoS) regulation, through improved oversight or internal controls and facilitation of active infrastructure sharing amongst telecoms operators. These will be done in ways that will encourage seamless adoption of next generation technologies and remove all barriers to smooth operations.
Nigeria’s Techpreneurs tasks
At this juncture, entrepreneurs most importantly those in IT have a lot of opportunities to contribute to and also market solutions in terms of innovation technology and process that can ameliorate the identified problems responsible for poor quality of service in the country. Challenges experience by operators and governments across Africa in the sector should be solved through African inputs rather foreign ones. A recent summit towards improved quality of service in the continent highlights quality moves and standards in three kinds of infrastructure: core infrastructure (eg. satellite, cable, fibre), service infrastructure (eg. Internet governance, Internet exchanges), and media infrastructure (eg. big data, open data, child safety mechanisms).
For effective regulation and better quality of service as envisaged by NCC, Nigerian Techpreneurs need to convert their knowledge into a great number of opportunities such as the creation of products or offerings towards active monitoring of call success setup, call drop, traffic channel, congestion among others. Incessant call dropping remains one of the elements contributing to the low quality of service, which is being solved through Call Drop Analysis platform in advanced countries. The platform is affording the regulatory agencies of the countries opportunity of knowing call drop rate in a particular cell site, understanding the patterns and identifying the reasons behind it.