By Olabisi Olaleye
Managing Director of eStream Networks Limited, Muyiwa Ogungboye, laments the challenges being faced by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country while commenting his firm’s operation in the past ten years.
Can ISPs offer real 4G service in Nigeria
We are already in mobile, just that the devices that will support our 4G services are not yet available. I want to believe that before the end of the year, it will be available. As we speak, Huawei is already producing 2.3Ghz phone, which is compatible with our services. I want to believe that organisations like Samsung, among others, are thinking towards that direction. We don’t want to be restrictive in such a way that you must buy our particular set of mobile phones. No, let people have varieties. It will definitely happen.
On whether other companies offer real 4G, I wouldn’t want to quote companies but what we have experienced is that some are still deploying 2G or 3G. But they say it is 4G. Education needs to come in, the Nigerian citizens to understand the differences. A typical 4G services have minimum of 10 megabytes speed. But 2G is like 2 megabytes while 3G gives about 4 megabytes. It is not enough to watch Nollywood content via the mobile phones, but people need the services real time. Only 4G can accord you the pleasure.
End users services against corporate services delivery
What heralded the birth of our company was due to the challenge in the corporate market, basically, connectivity. We have achieved a milestone on that. However, we also realised that in the retail or mass market sector, what is focused on is mobile, be it MiFi, or mobile phone, that was what led us into signing agreement with Bitflux. It is basically to solve some problems in the mass market segment. But you know that as at today most of the mobile ISPs are on 2G/3G. None of them is actually what is regarded as full 4G.
What we intend bringing on board is the pure 4G service, which has a minimum of 10 megabytes per second. Anything short of that is not 4G, but most Nigerians do not understand the definitions of 2G, 3G or 4G. If the public is educated on how to test the service they are getting, they will understand better. Therefore, we want to bring alongside, education on 4G. It comes with exceptional speed at a very competitive price. You can imagine getting 100 megabytes per second for as little as N5,000. As I speak, it is already happening in some locations in Lagos such as Ikoyi, Victoria Island, among others. Our focus is that before the end of the year, Lagos State would have been covered. With that, you and I will have access to affordable, reliable and exceptionally fast internet connectivity. In Europe, you get a minimum of 12megabytes per second. They are advanced because on the move you want to watch CNN, BBC, Skype with your wife or husband. These services need big bandwidth, which 2G or 3G cannot really offer.
eStream 10 years after
eStream was born in March 2006, so, we have clocked 10 years. As an entrepreneur that saw a problem in the country in terms of connectivity and providing a solution to it, that was how eStream was formed.
We started with VSat as means of communications. Ten years ago, the fibre network in Nigeria was limited, radio connectivity was also limited. Mainly, satellite was the choice. As years go by, we found that there was a need for us to start incorporating newer technologies in our network. To that end, we have put in fibre and radio. We still have satellite running up to date.
Actually, over the past 10 years, it has been challenging. The situations in the country are such that dollar has never been stable, all the equipment are bought from overseas, government regulations have been tough with accruable multiple taxation. Accessing funds from the banks is another major bottleneck we encounter as we pursue growth. In all, we have been able to weather the storms.
Generally, I will say that it was the urge to solve problems in the country that manifested in having eStream come to live. We also want a situation that indigenous companies can be perceived as capable of executing, even better projects, what Americans and Europeans are doing for us. So, during the course of our 10 years, we also obtained our certification on quality management. I think we got that ISO:1900 certification when we clocked seven years.
The whole idea is to prove to the outside world that there are some indigenous companies that can do it in the right way. Corporate governance is something we hold very seriously in this organisation. Quality is also something we don’t play with. In all, it has been challenging and interesting in the life of the company.
Moving forward, we intend to expand our network on fibre and especially on radio. There are some sub-marine cables that have come into the country but the problem is distribution. It is a factor to induce results in the sector.
Last year, we came up with a five-year business plan. When we started the company 10 years ago, the business plan we had was exhausted at about the fifth year. Another one was written, which ended last year. So, our focus for the next five years is majorly on expansion.
Right now, we have agreements on colocation on certain base stations across the country, but we also want to invest on some of those base stations. We have some already but we are expanding. Like in Onitsha, the ones we have are not enough. In Abuja, we have one and we will launch another one before the end of the month. There is an existing one in Calabar; we want to launch another one there too so that we can cover the larger part of the country and also the hinterlands.
Secondly, we just signed an agreement with Bitflux, which won the licensing for deploying LTE in Nigeria. But by the law they can’t sell to the end users, rather through ISPs like us. We are one of their major partners. The base stations we are building will help in spreading their signals across the country; it is a collaborative drive where they set up some and we do too. We also have plan for setting up our cloud services. Discussions are on with Microsoft and Dell for the purchase of the software and hardware. We expect that the cloud will soon be up and running.
For the LTE, it is not going to be working only on WiFi or MiFi; it will still work on mobile as well. It is not restrictive; as long as your phone has the capacity of working on 2.3GHz spectrum, the signal will work. We are spending a lot of money in setting up these base stations. It costs a minimum of N20 million to set up one base station. If we do some arrangements with people that have buildings, we will be spending N10 to N12 million. That is going to be the major drive of our services.
Firm brings better Internet streaming options
Stories by Olabisi Olaleye
Mahindra Comviva, a mobility solutions company and makers of popular Nigerian music app, Mooditt, has upgraded Mooditt music app to 2.0, which is the latest version with improved features.
Mooditt is a high quality multimedia mobile application streaming service with a rich suite of local catalogue-based digital music content. The application rejigs the streaming quality of the song, depending on network bandwidth to ensure uninterrupted and seamless music experience to the consumers. The service allows users to create and share playlist and also download songs and ringtones for listening offline, wirelessly. The app offers direct search for tracks, artistes across albums and similarly browse tracks by genres.
Mahindra Comviva works more in the mobile music space in Africa. The company has collaborated with over 95 local and international content providers, copyright bodies, local artistes, premium music labels and production houses in the continent. Currently, the company owns the rights to over 300,000 unique music tracks in African, Arabic and international categories in more than 36 local African languages.
According to the Marketing Lead, Mooditt, Olubukola Awodumila, the upgraded app would attract more downloads from Nigerians and enjoy better rating than earlier version.
“Our older version of the Mooditt music app recorded 30,000 music downloads and was ranked No.1 music app in Google Play Store for eight months in a row. We recorded two million unique sessions, over two million songs streamed and an average seven minutes spent per Mooditt app user,” she said.
Head, Digital Services, Mahindra Comviva, Atul Madan, said: “The expansion of regional music brands and increase in smartphone user-base has been key growth drivers for digital music in Nigeria and the growth of content consumption on digital has been exponential.”
The new Mooditt 2.0 music app comes with improved skin and highly fluid user interface (UI) but one of the app’s key offering is a first-of-its-kind music cataloguing by moods.
Head of D2C Business at Mooditt, Sunil Maharaj Kumar, said the unique dashboard feature was designed based on insight into the Nigerian consumer who consumes music at any given time based on his or her prevailing mood.
New Mooditt 2.0 music app does not just allow users to create personalised playlists but also allows them to interact with their favourite artistes on social media, play puzzle games and enjoy weekly top charts of hottest Nigerian songs. Other features of the app include free downloadable ringtones of all songs in the catalogue, users can set favourite songs as caller ring back tunes right from the app and all payments made in the app are through secure online portals of service providers like PAGA and QuicktellerTM.
“Mooditt 2.0 music app will easily top the ranking on app stores again as the No.1 music app in Nigeria. A lot has been put into its design and user experience,” AtulMadan said.
Marketing Manager, Comviva Technologies, Olubukola Idowu, said Mooditt 2.0 music app would in no time be the most sought after music app in Nigeria because a lot of work has been put into the app to make it stand out.