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WU Globacoms Investment in African Mobile Networks Presentation

WU Globacoms Investment in African Mobile Networks Presentation


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Approximately 46 percent of the world’s population now has access to the Internet—a key factor in encouraging economic activity and expanding educational opportunities. However, Internet access in Africa continues to trail that of the rest of the world. The continent contains 16 percent of the world’s population, but represents only about 9.8 percent of the world’s Internet users. Affordability and logistical barriers still prevent the vast majority of Africa’s population from accessing the wealth of information and services available online.

Increasingly, however, people in Africa—and around the globe—are breaking down those barriers by using mobile devices to gain access to the Internet. In 2015, there were an estimated 7 billion mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide, and that number is growing by almost 25 percent each year. As the world’s dependence on mobile technologies grows, telecommunications companies are increasing their investment in the networks that support those technologies.

Globacom Limited is one of the fastest-growing mobile communications companies in the world, operating mobile networks in Nigeria and several other West African countries under the GLO brand. The company is the second largest mobile network operator in Nigeria, where mobile devices account for over 76 percent of Web traffic (more than double the world average of 33 percent).

In order to provide reliable Internet access to its mobile subscribers, Globacom invests heavily in its network infrastructure. In 2011, the company became the first to lay a high-capacity, fiber-optic submarine cable from the United Kingdom to Nigeria. The large-scale project, which also connects points in Ghana, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, and Spain, cost the company more than $800 million. The underwater cable system allowed Globacom to expand its network, boost capacity, and increase Internet upload and download speeds. For Globacom’s mobile subscribers in Nigeria, the new cable also represented a significant jump in international connectivity—considered to be one of the critical requirements for the development of the Internet in any country.

Globacom also makes use of big data capabilities to improve its network performance and enhance the quality of the customer service it provides its subscribers. The company recently implemented Oracle’s Big Data Appliance platform, a hardware and software package that allows the company to analyze both structured and unstructured data related to issues such as terminated networks, event times and durations, event cost, quality of service, and overall network performance. Globacom’s IT staff uses the Oracle platform to capture and analyze more than 1 billion call-data records per day—the equivalent of 5 gigabytes of user-traffic information per second. According to Jameel Mohammed, Globacom’s group chief operating officer, the Oracle platform “enables us to capture, store, and analyze data that we were unable to access before. We now analyze network events 40 times faster.”

With a reduction in average query response time for network events from three minutes to five seconds, Globacom’s call center agents are better able to provide subscribers fast and reliable information regarding network performance. The company has significantly increased its “first-call resolution rate,” saving the company more than 13 million call center minutes, or the equivalent of 80 full-time customer service employees, annually.

For subscribers, Globacom’s investment in its network infrastructure along with its big data initiatives translate into improved network coverage and reliability, better customer service, and, perhaps most importantly, easier and more consistent access to the Internet—including a wide range of modern communications services, such as online banking and payment services, teleconferencing, distance learning, and telemedicine.
Critical Thinking Questions

1. What incentives does a mobile network operator have to make ongoing, expensive investments in its network infrastructure? What have been some of the benefits to Globacom’s subscribers of the company’s investment in its mobile network?

2. Big data applications and techniques allow network operators to make use of large quantities of network-related data, which was previously discarded due to the time and resources required to effectively analyze the data. What are some data points that you think would be most useful for a communications company to analyze when looking for ways to improve their network performance? What data points related to network activity and performance might be useful from a customer service or marketing standpoint?

3. Do research online to learn about some of the other factors that have impeded Internet access for most of the population in Africa and other parts of the world. What factors besides the level of network infrastructure investment might affect Internet access rates in a given country?

SOURCES: “Ericsson Mobility Report,” Ericsson,, accessed February 20, 2016; “ICT Facts & Figures: The World in 2015,” International Telecommunication Union,, May 2015; “Internet Users in the World by Region, November 2015” Internet World Stats,, accessed February 20, 2016; “Internet Goes Mobile: Country Report Nigeria,” Ericsson, accessed February 21, 2016; “Globacom Saves Over 35,000 Call-Processing Minutes Daily and Improves Data for Decision-Making and Customer Service,” Oracle,, accessed February 20, 2016; Banks, Roland, “There Are Now 3 Billion Internet Users Worldwide in 2015,” Mobile Industry Review, January 26, 2015, /01/3-billion-internet-users-2015.html; “Africa’s 50 Richest: #7 Mike Adenuga,” Forbes, accessed February 21, 2016.

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