NCC At #NITEC2016 Tells Operators’ View On Disruptive Technology

In communications where the traditional operators have enjoyed gilded opportunities, technological advancement in the sector has intruded in the esoteric state of being, according to the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).

In a presentation at the just concluded Nigeria International Technology Exhibition & Conference (NITEC 2016), titled, “Role of Disruptive Technologies in Catapulting the African Continent’s GDP”, Prof. Umaru Danbatta, executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), represented by Mr Tony Ojobo, the director, Public Affairs, affirmed that the word ‘Disruptive’ has been transformed into a beautiful bride whose qualities are being considered strong and positive enough to transform the GDP of the continent.

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Agreeing that Africa needs to step up its technological development to catch up with the trends around the globe, Ojobo said that pre- year 2000, telephone, for instance, was not for the poor even as investment in the telecommunications sector was about $500m which really inserted the phone in the hands of the ‘haves’ in the society.

“Just over a decade and half, with better liberalization of the sector and a firm regulator that is in charge, the Nigerian Communications Commission, the investment profile is over $32bn, the phones out there are over 148m, and with most of them in the hands of ordinary folks who have moved beyond beholding the wonders of this technology to really begin to think of some other derivatives that can profit their lives,” he said, admitting that “Without doubt there is an amount of effusive energy which is at work here to the point of intrusion. This is the danger. And this is where Disruptive is coming from”.

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A Disruptive Technology, according to computing fundamentals glossary, is one that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry.

The expression, ‘Disruptive Technology’, was first used in 1995 by Prof Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business lecturer in an article he co-wrote with his colleague, Joseph Bower for the Harvard Business Review.

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Recognizing Christensen’s aphorism, Ojobo said that identifying Sustaining technology as relying on incremental improvements to an already established technology, Disruptive technology lacks such refinement, often has performance problems because it is new, appeals to a limited audience, and may not yet have a proven practical application.

But, “The other interesting aspect of his book is that while large corporations are designed to work with sustaining technologies, excel at knowing their market, staying close to their customers, and having a mechanism in place to develop existing technology; they often have trouble capitalizing on the potential efficiencies, cost-savings, or new marketing opportunities created by low-margin disruptive technologies.

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“Using real-world examples to illustrate his point, Christensen demonstrates how it is not unusual for a big corporation to dismiss the value of a disruptive technology because it does not reinforce current company goals, only to be blindsided as the technology matures, gains a larger audience and market share and threatens the status quo.

Some Disruptive Technologies fall under the genre of Over-the-Top Services which are carried over the networks, delivering value to customers, but without any carrier service provider being involved in planning, selling, provisioning, or servicing them, thereby implying that traditional telcos cannot directly earn revenue from such services

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These over-the-top services include services such as Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony, live streaming and other social media applications, the Director said, “Many traditional telecom service providers are of the opinion that traditional telephony and SMS revenues are under threat from newer IP based alternatives like WhatsApp, Twitter, Skype, Viber, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and others.

“Similarly, third party web content and social networking companies such as Google and Facebook are increasingly generating huge revenues and driving high levels of data which ride on the broadband networks of traditional telecom traditional network operators even if the latter still have to spend all the money to upgrade their networks to accommodate the OTT intruders.

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“As they say in my village, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. The industry statistics don’t actually favour the disgruntlement of the traditional telcos operators. Globally there is a continuing surge in growth which means that the industry must be heading somewhere for a positive reason.

“The organisers of this conference seem to agree with the latter group that the industry is headed somewhere and there must be something attractive in the direction it is headed. I believe the optimism derives from some of these figures which bear testimony to the transformational strength of a well implemented ICT agenda which incubates new ideas. Total population of Africa by mid-2015 is 1, 158, 355, 663; Internet users by November 2015 were 330, 965, 359; 124, 568, 500 were on Facebook within the same period; There are over 722million mobile phones in Africa and over 127million are smart phones”.

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Globally, Facebook has over 1.5bn users monthly with about 798million accessing the site on their mobile phones; WhatsApp has over 700million users who are sending over 30bn messages every day; Twitter has over 302 million monthly users; Instagram has over 300million active users per month; LinkedIn over 332million registered members; Pinterest has about 70 million of which 56 per cent are females.

“Why would Microsoft want to put in a mind-blowing sum $26.2bn in LinkedIn except there is something they have seen in an organization that may not have as much physical facilities to warrant that amount.

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“But that is the point of vexation by the traditional operators who feel that organizations without tangible investments are creating the new big boys while the old fellas are struggling to balance their books.

To this end, he said, that the operators don’t want go into extinction, but the challenge is that they must listen to the new drumbeat. .

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“The story of growth spreads across the continent, from east to west and north to south, including central. There is no doubt that a liberalized telecommunications sector will help African youth to take charge of their future. Facilitate Broadband Penetration; Improve Quality of Service; Optimize Usage and Benefits of Spectrum; Promote ICT Innovation and Investment Opportunities; Facilitate Strategic Collaboration and Partnership; Protect and Empower Consumers; Promote Fair Competition and Inclusive growth; Ensure Regulatory Excellence and Operational Efficiency”.

He added that every point in the Commission’s present Agenda has been carefully thought out and followed with vision and strategy to help push the industry to new heights in an era of very fair, firm, and forthright regulations.

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“The current Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC is very excited by the opportunity given to drive the growth of Broadband in Nigeria and has already thrown his hat in the ring in full readiness for action.

The Commission is embarking on activities to aggressively drive the deployment of Broadband which it describes as the real game changer.

“It is our pledge therefore, that the Commission will always act responsibly, impartially, transparently and independently in the discharge of its statutory functions in order to validate these expectations for the common good of all Nigerians”, the director said.