Zen Broadband

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NCC rallies stakeholders for affordable broadband availability

The significant role that broadband plays in national development have been a major reason why stakeholders continue to clamour for affordable access to this essential communication asset. Recently, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, assured of its readiness to create enabling environment, through policy and investment initiatives, to provide what is termed the citizen broadband, writes Isaiah Erhiawarien.

In the last few weeks, the leadership of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has been traversing the North West, North Central and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of the country feeling the pulse of the citizens on critical issues in the telecoms industry, and consequently has realized the importance of citizen broadband to national drive for improved internet penetration. Stakeholders in the sector have often advised government to make access to broadband not just available but affordable and reliable to all considering its importance to national development and the growth of the economy, particularly as it relates to our Gross Domestic Product, GDP. That particularly was the major reason the NCC licensed two infrastructure companies, Infracos, for Lagos and North-Central even as Danbatta has promised to issue licenses for North-East, North-West, South- East, South-South and South-West this year as part of its plan to make broadband internet very readily available especially in the major cities. And according to the founder of Paradigm Initiative, Gbenga Sesan, broadband holds the key to liberating the young growing population of Nigerian youths from the grip of unemployment say that there are so many things that the youths can do for themselves when broadband is readily available to them. He acknowledge that the youths are the most vibrant class of the Nigerian citizenship group noting that the successes recorded by the Chinese economy revolves around what the citizens have been able to do with technology and dynamic broadband internet services. To the NCC, those postulations have since captured the attention the Commission as listed by the head of the regulatory body during his tour of the country, where he highlighted the relevance of citizenship broadband to the national economy.

He noted that citizenship broadband is a global factor that offers local ICT opportunities for Nigerians stressing, The global and indeed local ICT market is growing exponentially and creating whole brand new and exciting opportunities. Nigeria s economy is strengthening, and the world is taking notice. And such, he promised to make these opportunities real for all Nigerians, especially the young people who are already shaping the future through innovation. We believe that Nigeria has the potential to gain a global competitive edge in innovation. What we need is to work together to gain the extra momentum that is necessary and invaluable for the successful realisation of our Vision as an industry, Danbatta said. According to him, the NCC fast-track the provision of the infrastructure necessary to provide ubiquitous broadband services to all citizens at affordable rates, saying that broadband still remains the next frontier in the ICT industry. Key areas that the NCC will be addressing as it absorb the quest for citizenship broadband will be the promotion of innovation, investment, competition and consumer empowerment in and on top of communications platforms of today and the future-maximizing the power of information and communications technology to grow the economy.

Danbatta expressed excitement of the power of broadband to create jobs and enhance national competitiveness through the deployment of broadband infrastructure to facilitate roll-out broadband services that will hold out opportunities and higher network quality of service for all Nigerians. According to him, The broadband penetration agenda would be achieved through the national broadband plan, while the role of the NCC in the plan is to prioritise the broadband infrastructure within the cities and subsequently in the rural areas. Indeed the history of broadband in Nigeria, according to the former President of Institute of Software Practitioners, ISPON, Chris Uwaje has largely been driven by the GSM operators and Internet Service Provider saying that the intention of the NCC in driving broadband has largely been welcomed by stakeholders. In the ten years since the introduction of the GSM in Nigeria, it has significantly impacted our economy in a variety of ways, enhanced personal and corporate communications and generally improved the quality of life across the country. The associated growth of our telecoms industry has seen it become Africa s largest telecoms market and one of the fastest growing telecoms markets on the planet , he said.

He said that much of what is needed in the country now is the speed of broadband internet access, which needs to be understood saying that until July 2010, broadband was defined as 200 kbps in each direction but to keep pace with the ever evolving world of technology, the United States FCC (their equivalent of our NCC) increased the minimum speeds required for broadband to 4 Mbps down and 1Mbps up. He said what we need is a customer centric definition of broadband that is easily understood by all noting that to do that, we must understand the nature of the Nigerian data services consumer and their needs which are fortunately not too different from those of their counterparts worldwide. The NCC boss has however also noted that data transmission speed is yet to meet the required standard, assuring Nigerians that there is little to worry about. We have put in place measures to improve internet connectivity in the country through pervasive broadband availability stressing that its recently launched 8-point agenda is primarily geared towards making that possible.

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Ofcom's fixed broadband advertising of prices

Ofcom in partnership with the Advertising Standards Authority have recently published new research regarding fixed broadband advertising of prices. Their findings claim customers of ISP s are struggling to understand what they are actually paying for at the point of sale with regard to the products and services and this they suggest, is leaving many confused and tied into lengthy contracts that they can t easily get out of. This appears to be due to the complexity of the advertising that the customer is faced with when looking for a new or renewed deal from their prospective or existing ISP. The debate may not rest solely around whether to show a total price or its respective breakdown isn t it a wider question of transparency. As a consumer myself I much prefer the breakdown option although I appreciate not everyone wants to do the detail and would rather have a one-price inclusive figure for they re purchasing. The ASA/Ofcom research published here1 has received criticism from some in the industry, going as far as questioning the sample size used in the research study and often pointing out that many customers prefer to see a total price for everything rather than a detailed and at times complex breakdown of what they re looking to buy. The one size fits all approach being suggested may well work for some customers but certainly not for others and it s important that ISP s are not tied up in a sea of regulatory red tape which stops them breaking down pricing for customers who need to see that level of detail.

Of course the Broadband market is very competitive and it s all too easy for a customer to choose a package without checking to see what they re getting. If they only look at the headline figure, they may miss hidden extras, conditions related to the offer (such as a requirement to also take line rental) and other aspects which completely changes the cost when compared to that up front special deal they thought they were getting. We see it every day. Not looking at what you are buying carefully could become extremely expensive, especially if your provider is looking for you to take a longer contract term it s worthwhile choosing an ISP who offers flexible or shorter contract terms, just in case all isn t as promised and you need to get out.

At Zen, we believe in transparent pricing and customer choice in terms of contract length, speed and usage level. In some cases, our suppliers insist on longer term contracts which means we have no option but to pass that on, however we ll always make that clear. A customer should never need a search team to find all the hidden costs. The ASA and Ofcom need to ensure this ruling is fair to both consumers and the ISP industry but in principle we support their study and its findings, we understand what they re trying to achieve.

Pricing should be as clear as is reasonably possible and we ll certainly continue to try and ensure our customers receive all of the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions. No customer should be left confused and tied into lengthy contracts simply because of difficulties in understanding complex information presented to them when purchasing. If customers find it confusing then as an industry, we all need to work harder to make life easier. We always try to do right by our customers and this approach is seen in the numerous customer service awards we have won over the years. With that in mind we have published the Zen Broadband and Line Rental Price List2, a breakdown of Broadband and Line rental pricing for our existing and prospective customers.

References

  1. ^ here (stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk)
  2. ^ Zen Broadband and Line Rental Price List (blog.zen.co.uk)

UNH-IOL Preps Industry for G.fast Certification

UNH-IOL Preps Industry For G.fast Certification

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory1, an independent provider of broad-based testing and standards conformance services for the networking industry, announced at the Broadband World Forum2 extensive support for the ultra-fast broadband standard, G.fast, including an ongoing G.fast Certification Beta Program prior to the official program launch in 2016, a growing G.fast Consortium, one of the first public demonstrations of G.fast interoperability to deliver 4K Ultra HD TV and an upcoming seventh G.fast plugfest in November. At the Broadband World Forum, UNH-IOL Senior Engineer Lincoln Lavoie will speak to how G.fast and G.fast certification support the Broadband Forum 20/20 Vision3. Lavoie will present on the topic, The Impact of G.fast on the Wider Network, during the session, Interoperability for G.fast across the Network, at 14:00 BST on Oct.

21 inside the exhibition floor Access Zone. The UNH-IOL s booth is located within the Broadband Forum s Interoperability Pavilion (D20). G.fast can reduce the cost of the last-drop into a home or business, as compared to an all-fiber deployment.

People are looking for certified assurances that customer premise equipment (CPE) and demarcation point unit (DPU) devices will interoperate correctly, lowering testing, rollout and troubleshooting costs. G.fast Consortium, Certification Beta Program, Plugfests and White Paper

Selected in 2014 as the Broadband Forum s first and only official test site for the G.fast Certification Program4, the UNH-IOL launched the G.fast Consortium5 one year ago to nurture an ecosystem of manufacturers and support the accelerated adoption of the G.fast standard by service providers. As with similar UNH-IOL programs, membership in the G.fast Consortium benefits manufacturers by giving them access to a certification program that service providers are including in their RFP requirements. The formal G.fast Certification Program, which will be housed at the UNH-IOL, is currently on target to launch during the first half of 2016 with the first certified devices also expected in 2016. However, to date, more than one dozen Broadband Forum member companies, including CPE and DPU manufacturers and chipset companies, are already engaged in the G.fast Certification Beta Program, debugging issues early on and preparing the test plan, interoperability test bed, and first devices to be certified.

In addition to ensuring that all testing is completely accurate, the G.fast Consortium is also developing in-house automation software that will keep testing times short for member companies after launch.

We re grateful to our Beta Program participants, who are helping to ensure that the official G.fast Certification Program will provide the best possible quality right from the start, Lavoie said. We d also like to encourage all G.fast stakeholders to contact us now to get a head start on prepping their products and scheduling testing in advance of the formal program launch. Multiple vendors already have engaged in a series of six G.fast chipset interoperability plugfests, which began in January. The next plugfest, scheduled from Nov.

2 to Nov.

6, will involve updated software and firmware developed by participants during the past several months. To help companies interested in certification going forward, the UNH-IOL has produced a downloadable white paper on the topic, G.fast Certification Test Setup & Calibration6.

G.fast Interop Demo at Broadband World Forum

The UNH-IOL is also leading one of the first public demonstrations of G.fast interoperability with multiple vendors. The live exhibit will be held at the Broadband Forum s Interoperability Pavilion7 at the Broadband World Forum. This demonstration verifies interoperability between systems vendors using the chipset from Sckipio Technologies8, showing the high-bandwidth, low-latency capabilities of G.fast to deliver exciting new applications and services, such as 4K Ultra HD TV.

The demonstration will include multiple CPE devices connected to each DPU and also show the vectoring or crosstalk cancellation capabilities of G.fast.

The Broadband Forum s Interoperability Pavilion will showcase a number of technologies, including GPON, VDSL2, TR-069 and G.fast.

We are delighted to welcome our partners at the UNH-IOL and applaud their progress toward G.fast testing that will deliver the range of certified products that the industry expects, Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum, said.

References

  1. ^ University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (cts.businesswire.com)
  2. ^ Broadband World Forum (cts.businesswire.com)
  3. ^ Broadband Forum 20/20 Vision (cts.businesswire.com)
  4. ^ G.fast Certification Program (cts.businesswire.com)
  5. ^ G.fast Consortium (cts.businesswire.com)
  6. ^ G.fast Certification Test Setup & Calibration (cts.businesswire.com)
  7. ^ Broadband Forum s Interoperability Pavilion (cts.businesswire.com)
  8. ^ Sckipio Technologies (cts.businesswire.com)