Those who base their mobile power on the strength of voice penetration, are living technology from the rear end. Much as revenue from voice genre of mobile business has turned many economies around, facts are emerging everyday, that data seems to be the future.
Nigeria, as one of the countries which ubiquitous voice penetration spurned its history from a pariah telecommunications nation to one of the frontline mobile economies of the world, seems not oblivious of this fact.
Even in the euphoria of being recognised as one of the fastest growing telecom markets in the world, the sector was also thinking of ways to sustain the tempo and at the same time leapfrog to the future, in the ever dynamic technology world.
That, brought about the broadband Nigeria campaign and subsequently the National Broadband Policy, championed by the Ministry of Communications Technology and the industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.
Clean bill of health on broadband policy
interestingly, world renowned data and content analysts, International Data Corporation, IDC has just given the policy, a clean bill of health, describing it as capable of increasing data adoption rate, if well implemented.
However, the company's latest insights in the Nigerian market, revealed that the uptake of machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things, IoT technologies is currently limited in Nigeria. Although the report is upbeat that improving data-transfer speeds will play a key role in driving future adoption of the concepts, it however added that it could also depend on how well the National Broadband Policy is implemented.
M2M and IoT are similar but slightly different. While Machine to Machine refers to automated exchange of information between machines, vehicles and a central control centre, Internet of things is used to denote advanced connectivity of devices, systems and services beyond machine-to-machine communications due to the fact that it covers a variety of protocols, domains and applications. It's a near magical scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to automatically transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
Meanwhile, IDC's Annual Enterprise Communication Survey, shows that only 30% of enterprises in Nigeria have implemented M2M technology in some form or other. Even at that, just machines like security monitoring, fleet management, and point-of-sale machines currently account for the majority of M2M connections in Nigeria. Advanced M2M applications such as smart metering, pay-as-you-drive-insurance, and intelligence building are said not to be widely used in Nigeria. Reasons adduced to this lag are connectivity issues and the complexities involved in implementing and managing such technologies.
However, there seems to be hope. In its latest "M2M, IoT, and Voice Trends and Priorities in Nigeria, 2013 report" IDC anticipates strong growth in the M2M/IoT market as data-transfer speeds improve in the country. It said: "Connectivity in Nigeria is currently not very reliable, and even the country's telecommunications regulatory body - the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) - has raised concerns about the quality of service levels among operators. However, with the regulator keen on implementing a national broadband policy, IDC expects voice and data connectivity to improve considerably over the coming years and thereby facilitate greater uptake of more complex M2M/IoT technologies".