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Wi-Fi to the fore in Nigeria

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Across Africa mobile is growing and the demand for constant connectivity is becoming insatiable – specifically in strong mobile markets like Nigeria.

According to the latest statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria ended June 2013 with a total of 120.36 million fixed and mobile telephone subscribers, up from 117.28 million three months earlier and 113.21 million at the start of the year. Says Michael Fletcher, sales director at Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa: ‚”With this rapid growth, the expectation of increased capacity and coverage by users is exploding, but as more traffic, devices and concurrent connections hit mobile networks, many are struggling to keep up with demand and as a result, we are seeing more free Wi-Fi and larger hotspots come to the fore.‚”

The Wi-Fi landscape in Nigeria is growing and very opportunistic. ‚”There are numerous hotspots in the densely populated areas, but the quality is poor due to interference,‚” adds Fletcher. ‚”What’s more, in the outlying areas, Wi-Fi connectivity is scarce meaning either consumers have a poor Wi-Fi experience or no experience at all.‚”

As Wi-Fi continues to proliferate at an accelerated pace with new Wi-Fi enabled devices hitting the market every day, interference in the unlicensed spectrum is rising quickly. Interference is the presence of unwanted RF signals (i.e., noise), that disrupt normal system operations causing disruption to connectively and in turn, negative user experiences.

‚”While the move to Wi-Fi is certainly commendable, consumers/customers are looking for reliable, cost-effective connectivity‚Äîand the key here is to deploy solutions that work by allowing consumers to do what they want, when they want,‚” adds Fletcher. ‚”And this is where Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi comes into play.‚”

Smart Wi-Fi is a collection of Ruckus technologies, all designed to extend the range and reliability of wireless signals. These technologies eliminate much of the cost and complexity of conventional wireless LAN (WLAN) deployments. Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi includes recent technical advances in beam steering, beam forming, adaptive signal path selection, quality of service, traffic classification, and RF routing. In simple terms better Wi-Fi exactly what countries such as Nigeria need.

While Wi-Fi has been around for quite some time as a consumer and enterprise technology, it’s never garnered the kind of attention that it will this year and going into 2014. The reason? Wi-Fi is seen as the most economical and capacity-rich technology to help carriers address the tremendous acceleration in mobile data traffic particularly within high-density areas. Most geographies are seeing traffic growth of 50 to 100% year-on-year with no end in sight. It is easy to do the math here and see that this will easily overwhelm the existing mobile infrastructure, even with new LTE deployments.

The mobile market has grown drastically in the last five years and with a strong population growth to an expected 1.5 billion people by 2040*, the mobile market continues to grow. Mobile phones have made a huge economic impact, where increased mobile penetration by 10%* has actually been shown to increase a country’s GDP by 0.81%. ‚”Demands are changing, access models are changing and consumers are blurring the lines between corporate and personal spaces becoming more vocal in terms of what they want, and what they want is better, more reliable access to the Internet, making enterprise and carrier investment in Wi-Fi more critical than ever before,‚” concludes Fletcher.

NigeriaCom returns to Lagos for a 4th year and will be taking place at the Lagos Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, from 17 – 18 September 2013. For more information on Ruckus Wireless, please note that they will be exhibiting at the event at stand number C11.

* Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

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Africa gets broadband boost

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ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.

Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.

Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.

ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.

At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”

Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.

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Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world

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Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.

Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.

AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.

The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.

‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”

The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.

‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.

The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”

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