NigComSat Cuts Entry Barriers to Internet Services


Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT) has initiated measures to improve the coverage area and lower cost of satellite internet in Nigeria, using new delivery approach.

NigComSat which is run by the federal government, is a satellite operator and service provider in Africa, providing connectivity solutions to key markets such as government, defense, maritime, enterprise and cellular back-haul.

However, it was reported to have opted to deliver satellite connectivity solutions by establishing an eco-system of Virtual Internet Service Providers (VISPs).

A statement noted that NigComSat would operate a digital Business Support System (BSS) referred to as PortaBilling, which would be provided by PortaOne – a leading global vendor of BSS and Online Charging System (OCS), to deliver internet service to key markets such as government, defense, maritime, enterprises.

The statement from PortaOne explained that the VISPs would rent data channels from the NigComSat orbiting satellite and then rely on the PortaBilling self-care portal to manage their tariff plans and subscribers.

It added that PortaBilling would carry out all service monetisation including service activation, charging, invoicing and payment collection.

“So, a VISP does not need to purchase or implement any infrastructure, and the only action required on the VISP side is to install the customers’ equipment. Such low entry barrier enables nearly any local company such as system integrator, utility or even a supermarket chain to become an ISP.

“It will have major effects in several key markets, in particular for Small Office or Home Office (SOHO), these customers will benefit from better satellite connectivity,” said the statement.

It quoted the Managing Director of NigComSat, Dr. Abimbola Alale, to have said with the deployment of PortaBilling which he said was robust and flexible, the common challenges that ISPs face in Nigeria would be addressed.

“It will also aid profitability, market readiness and a need for technology, which evolves with the market because PortaOne offers a license, unlimited in terms of number of subscribers or resellers. This helps to maintain a low and predictable TCO (Total Cost of Ownership),” said Alale in the statement.

She further the PortaOne team were agile in their work on the project which has been integrated with other elements such as online payment through REMITA.

According to the statement, PortaOne which is based in Canada, has developed software for agile service provisioning and billing systems for modern telecommunication companies across the world.

Its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Andriy Zhylenko, was equally quoted in the statement to have said that the project with NigComSat would be a success.

“At the heart of PortaBilling is an open architecture that will integrate seamlessly with NigComSat value-added services. The two will work smoothly together to create cutting edge solutions that will meet the needs of today’s customers,” said Zhylenko.

He further stated that PortaBilling will make internet access in Nigeria more abundant and affordable, by building a vast network of VISPs in the country, as well as enable prepaid satellite internet access across Nigeria.