FG, Gambia Sign Agreement on Telecom Regulation
The Gambian government's desire to attain Nigeria’s success in telecom development has received a boost with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Gambian Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) signing a technical cooperation agreement on telecom regulation.
The agreement, which was signed in Abuja, by the Executive Vice Chairman of Commission, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, and Director General of PURA, Mr. Alagi Basiru Gaye, representing both countries, the regulatory bodies agreed to cooperate on such areas as quality of service frameworks, interconnection, economic regulation, management of scarce resource such as frequencies and numbers, pricing, and universal access.
This is coming on a day the Interconnect Clearinghouse Nigeria ICN, a leading interconnect service provider in the country signed a roll-out agreement with telecommunication giant, Nokia Siemens worth $2.1million.The Chief Technical Officer of ICN, Mr. Jude Chukwuma, stated that the contract will entail Nokia Siemens supplying and installing carrier grade, reliable and scalable transiting switches in Abuja and PortHarcourt.
The roll out agreement between ICN and Nokia, will also enable the upgrade of ICNs existing and operational switch in Lagos .Chukwuma, who emphasised the necessity of installing new nodes in Abuja and Port Harcourt and the upgrading the node in Lagos, stated that the upgrade will be based on Nokia Siemens high performance Surpass hiE9200 soft switch, which supports all relevant features and TDM and IP interfaces.
Describing the switch as the perfect solution to meet the requirements of new challenges, Chukwuma stated that the new architecture will support any Class4 or Class5 features set known from TDM and is best positioned for new applications.
He reiterated that the IP trunking solution of the Surpass hiE9200 will enable ICN to provide a consolidated, flexible and optimised IP based transit network solution.Chukwuma added that ICN will be able to support different trunking solutions while supporting all PSTN/IN services & features of the existing PSTN networks in the IP based network. The upgrade according to him will offer ICN the flexibility of a next generation network, the ability to connect all trunking traffic types and support several traffic categories. He listed some of the high lights of ICN’s upgrade as SIP-I, intelligent network services, SS7 over IP, lawful Interceptions SPC sharing, codec negotiation, IPSec among others.
He reiterated that ICN is out to explore the benefits presented by developing telecommunication core and access networks, based on the Next Generation Networks (NGN) concept. The upgrade switch will offer all available protocols in the IDM and IP environment. The interfaces on offer will include Ethernet 10/100 baseT,E1, STM1 etc.Community licenses are also not left out as they now have the privileges of both local and global connectivity through ICN.
For instance, a Community Licensee in any location in Nigeria can now enjoy media global connectivity with ICN in any of its location via IP, and will not have to connect individually with the other networks (both local and international).Chukwuma stated that with this new device, ICN is now a one- stop shop for media connectivity to all intended and would be beneficiaries that include but not limited to mobile operator, content/ VAS aggregators and Community Licensee.
Other areas specified in the agreement document between Nigeria and Gambia include licensing, type approval, consumer protection, stakeholder and international relationship management.This agreement consummates several meetings and consultations between the two organizations which first began with the ITU and other development agencies recommending Nigeria to the Gambia for a study in telecom regulation, with the Gambian authorities also sending several officials to Nigeria.
About three months ago, Secretary of State (Minister) for Communications of the Gambia, Hon. Fatim Badjie-Janneh, paid a visit to the NCC headquarters during which she commended Nigeria’s success in telecom regulation and the desire of her government to emulate this success.A fortnight ago, the Department of State Communication, Information and Information Technology of the Gambia, and PURA, invited Engr. Ndukwe and his team at NCC to a workshop for the review and validation of a new bill modeled around the Nigerian telecom regulatory laws, which is expected to be passed into law within the next three months.Engr. Ndukwe was said to have advised the Gambian authorities to encourage private sector participation in fashioning out a robust regulated telecom and ICT sector in the Gambia.
The signing of the agreement in Abuja for the cooperation is seen by observers as a necessary outcome of the of the relationship developed by the two regulatory institutions which would benefit PURA in its effort to implement a fully regulated telecom and ICT environment. The agreement is also predicated on the need to facilitate and deepen cooperation, namely in the field of the regulation of the communications, and frequent and regular exchanges, within the framework of a joint programme of action.The agreement provides for the parties to organize joint training seminars for staff and to exchange executives and experts through organization of technical missions, and short and medium duration training sessions.