The Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) revolution took the country by storm 12 years ago. Since then, things have not been the same in the telecoms sector. GSM is ‘revolutionising’ the way people use the technology in their lives, report Deji Fakorede & Sampson Unamka.
After writing his last paper at the May/June West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), 17-year-old Damilola Akirisore anxiously looked forward to his school’s valedictory service.
His mother, Mrs ‘Renike Akirisore shared in her son’s anxiety. This is understandable. Damilola is the eldest of her three children and the occasion, the ‘first graduation’ of her first child naturally marks a historical milestone in the family’s life. So, dressed in flowing Agbada, Damilola walked alongside his mother as they headed for Prudent Comprehensive College in Abule Odu, near Idimu, a suburb of Lagos, for the occasion.
The trunk of their car was loaded with drinks and food. The traditional speeches and prize giving ceremony over, it was time for parents and graduands to dance. At that point, all manner of gadgets emerged. Parents and guardians brought out smartphones, iPads, tabs, Balckberry and other forms of mobile devices to capture the event.
Before the global system for mobile (GSM) communication revolution, such occasions would have been flooded by hordes of photographers. It is no longer business as usual for them. People now take their own photographs at parties and other events, using their phones and related devices.
The GSM revolution has also impacted on the music and movie industry. Music and videos are easily streamed by subscribers. Prayers of renowned preachers and words of great men are used as ring back caller tunes.
According to findings, mobile phones influence people’s lives, as they not only cater for their communications needs but health reqirements. They get daily tips on their phones.
Telephone services in the country have a long history starting with the British colonial government in 1886. Then, telephones devices helped the British in running the country. After independence in 1960, there were only 18,724 telephone lines in the country. And until the sector was deregulated in 2001 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, it was monopolised by the monibund natural carrier, Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL).
At the time the monopoly was broken, there were just about 4000 analogue lines in the country. Today, subscriber figure, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), is above 113 million.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa that joined the digital cellular network in January 2001 with the licensing of private telecoms operators by the NCC.
The country soon took the leadership from South Africa. Statistics available by research firms show that it is the fastest growing telecoms market on the continent. It is being followed by South Africa with 31 per cent and Kenya with seven per cent.
With many online platforms now having mobile versions which can support every operating system, all a user needs to do is to go to Google Play or the Apple app store to download and use everything from Facebook, Twitter for their social media needs. The YouTube too is there for fast streaming and watching of videos. Other apps allow the mobile phone user to check into hotels, buy flights tickets online and so on. With the global smartphone sales hitting the billion mark, mobile applications will continue to be a veritable source of not only employment but revenue.
Minister of Communications Technology Mrs Omobola Johnson said mobile application development has a future in the country. Speaking at the unveiling of Nigeria’s broadband masterplan in Lagos, she appealed to those claiming not to be getting domestic patronage in banking applications to look inwards and develop mobile applications.
Also speaking with The Nation, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, 70th Precinct, Osamede Umweni, said the mobile application sub-sector of the industry could adding $1 billion yearly to the national economy.
He said the government should keep encouraging local software developers so that they could be employed.
Head, Handheld Devices, Samsung Electronics West Africa, Emmanuel Revmatas, said the arrival of new privately-owned submarine cables and their landing on the coast of East and West African nations, including Nigeria, will in the long run, have significant reduction on cost of internet access and increase the adoption of smartphones in the country.
According to researchers, the average mobile phone users in the country check the screen of their mobile phones about 23 times daily for messaging (either receiving or sending), 22 times for checking voice calls, nine times for social media and six times for news alerts. Smartphones users also use their phones for gaming and accessing the internet, check time and to arrange their schedule for the day. The number of Nigerians who access the internet through their mobile phones has increased considerably, surpassing those who access the internet using their personal computers (PCs).
Smartphones are also sporting better and better. Picture and video technology are improving and as the camera gets better so will the use.
Smartphones have also impacted positively in learning. Aside e-books, textbooks are downloaded into the smartphone. The Opon Imo (tablet of knowledge), which is the brainchild of Osun State government comes to fore. The state government believes it will have a redefining effect on education delivery in the state.
Mobile phone has also aided disaster management. Displaced people can reconnect with their families just as it has also helped to avert disaster. Information can be passed across easily to people about the posiility of disaster happenings in town.
However, the evolution of Smartphones has come with its side effects. Students now spend valuable hours online chatting and watching obscene videos instead of reading