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SIM-NIN linkage: 12 million lines barred as NCC rules out extension

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The Communications Commission has ruled out an extension of the February 28, 2024 deadline for the linkage of Subscriber Identity Module cards to National Identification Numbers.

As a result, telecommunication companies have been directed to bar 12 million lines which have not been linked to the owners’ NINs after the expiration of the deadline.

The Director of Public Affairs, NCC, Reuben Mouka, confirmed the development to The PUNCH on Wednesday.

Reaffirming the NCC’s stance, Mouka stated, “We already issued a public notice in this regard and all the information. If there was an extension, NCC would have communicated that. But as far as I know, there is no extension.”

In a December 2023 notice, the NCC had asked telcos to bar SIMs that had not been linked to their owners’ NINs by February 28, 2024.

It further asked the Global Satellite Mobile Communications firms to bar those whose NINs have been submitted but not verified by March 29, 2024; and interdict those who have less than five lines linked to an unverified NIN by April 15, 2024.

The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, confirmed to The PUNCH that telecom operators would comply with the NCC’s directive.

He said out of the 224 million active lines, about 12m lines risked deactivation.

Adebayo said, “About 12 million SIM cards may not have been linked to NIN. Some of these SIM cards work on modems and mifi devices. According to the regulatory directives, those numbers that are not properly linked to NIN will have services withdrawn to them by midnight today. We stand by that regulatory directive and we are going to comply,”

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The ALTON chairman also dismissed speculations about a possible extension, stating that the deadline ought to have happened last year.

He declared, “No, the regulator has made it clear that there won’t be any further extension. Let us remember that this ought to have happened last year, but it was extended by the regulator till the 28th of February, 2024.”

Since the NCC first ordered the suspension of SIM cards without NIN on December 15, 2020, there had been a rapid increase in the number of people obtaining their NINs.

Between the period the order was given and the second deadline date, January 19, 2021, Nigerian mobile operators received 47.8m new submissions from active subscribers.

In 2021, about 21 million subscribers were yet to obtain their NIN, even as the deadline for registration approached.

A high-ranking official at MTN Nigeria, who was not authorised to comment publicly on the matter, informed The PUNCH that the company planned to disconnect the defaulting subscribers in compliance with the directive.

According to the official, there has not been any counter-directives from the NCC.

Emphasising that it is a federal issue, the official pointed out that some lines had been disconnected earlier.

“Remember, this is not an issue with the telcos. It’s a Federal Government issue, and before now, some lines were being disconnected. If they wanted to extend the deadline, they would have issued another notice, but they aren’t as I speak to you,” the official stated.

In response to the situation, a Public Relations official at Airtel Nigeria, Sam Adeoye, mentioned that Airtel would release an official statement on the development.

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However, Chineze Amanfo, Lead, Public Relations at 9Mobile, did not respond to calls when contacted by reporters.

Meanwhile, the Federal High Court in Lagos has restrained telecom operators from deactivating or barring any line or SIM not linked to their NINs.

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa restrained the telcos while ruling on an application filed by a Lagos-based lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje.

Lewis-Allagoa made the order on February 22, 2024, while ruling on a motion for the restraining orders filed by Ogungbeje.

Ogungbeje, in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/667/23, sued the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, and Airtel Network Nigeria Limited before the court.

He asked the court for an injunction pending appeal, ‘’restraining all the respondents jointly or severally, whether, by themselves, their agents, outlets, agencies, privies, officials, servants, men, parastatals, units, organs, or anybody or person however so called, from taking any step or action capable of enforcing the judgment in anyway and from further outright barring, deactivating and or restricting any SIM cards or his phone Lines, or of any Nigerian Citizen, slated for February 28, 2024, or any other scheduled date, pending the hearing and determination of his appeal at the Court of Appeal, against the court’s judgment delivered on May 8, 2023, by Justice Lewis-Allagoa.’’

When quizzed about the NCC’s reaction to the court injunction, Mouka responded, “We are not aware of any court injunction stopping the NCC from barring lines that have not been linked with NIN.”

Earlier today, at the ongoing 45th Kaduna International Trade, the Executive Vice Chairman, National Communication Commission, Dr. Aminu Maida, insisted that, as a matter of critical national security, telecom consumers must link their NIN to their SIM.

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Nigeria introduces 7.5% VAT on crypto transactions

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Bitcoin

KuCoin, a cryptocurrency exchange, says it will commence collection of a 7.5 percent value-added tax (VAT) on transaction fees for users in Nigeria.

The company said a regulatory update in Nigeria led to KuCoin’s decision to introduce the VAT.

In a statement on July 3, the cryptocurrency platform said the deduction of the VAT would be effective from July 8.

KuCoin said for every trade, the 7.5 percent VAT will be applied to the transaction fee — not the total transaction amount.

“We are writing to inform you of an important regulatory update that impacts our users from Nigeria,” the company said.

“Starting from July 8th, 2024, we will begin collecting a Value-Added Tax (“VAT”) at a rate of 7.5% on transaction fees in each trade for users whose KYC information is registered in Nigeria.

“Nb: The 7.5% is only charged on the 0.1%/0.05% transaction fee and not your total amount which will be remitted.”

According to KuCoin, if a user buys $1,000 worth of bitcoin with a 0.1 percent fee rate, the transaction fee would be $1.

The VAT, the crypto platform said, would be 7.5 percent of the fee which is $0.075 — the net amount for the transaction would be $998.925.

“Please note that the VAT will be applied to the transaction fees in each trade, not the transaction amount, and covers all transaction types on KuCoin platform,” the crypto exchange said.

In 2022, Zainab Ahmed, former minister of finance, budget, and national planning, had initially hinted at government’s plans to tax cryptocurrencies and other digital assets.

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In the 2023 Finance Act, the government imposed a 10 percent tax on profits from digital assets, including cryptocurrencies.

However, the particular provision of the act was not enforced.

In May, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced plans to delist naira from all peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms.

SEC said the decision was taken to avoid the level of “manipulation” happening in the cryptocurrency space.

 

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The iPhone 16 Pro Max could redefine smartphone batteries

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The iPhone 16 Pro Max could redefine smartphone batteries

Apple is reportedly eyeing a major battery upgrade for its next iPhone — one that will not only boost the per-charge efficiency but also pave the way for easier (and hopefully cheaper) repairs. Ming-Chi Kuo, a well-known industry insider for Apple moves and analyst at Tianfeng International Securities, writes in his latest investor note that Apple is making modifications to the iPhone 16 Pro Max’s lithium-ion battery that will increase the energy density.

Battery density is defined as the amount of energy that can be stored per volume, and it is usually measured in watt-hours per liter for an average lithium-based battery, the kind used in smartphones. The benefits of a higher-density battery mean more electrical energy can be put inside a pack, or conversely, the size of the battery can be shrunk without reducing the capacity.

Depending on the materials used to create a higher-density battery, the benefits can also include a longer lifespan, which means reduced need for quick replacement due to chemical degradation that happens with the natural charge-discharge cycle. Notably, Kuo mentions that if Apple is able to achieve mass production of the higher-density battery for the iPhone 16 Pro Max without any inherent issues, it will be used across the entire iPhone 17 series set to arrive in 2025.

While a gain in battery efficiency is a welcome move, especially considering the fact that most consumers value battery life as a crucial parameter before buying a phone, there is another benefit to Apple’s approach. A higher-density battery would also entail adjusting the core design, and in this case, it could be a repairability boon borne out of engineering necessity.

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Theoretically, it sounds easy, but according to this research paper published in the journal Energies, “uneven temperature distribution leads to non-uniform and accelerated degradation.” In simpler terms, increasing the density without considering the temperature factor would affect a battery’s lifespan, which means an average smartphone user will have to get a replacement sooner than usual.

To handle the heating issue arising from a denser battery pack, Apple has reportedly decided to use a steel casing for the battery pack for the first time to ensure efficient heat dissipation. Steel is also more resistant to chemical oxidation, so there’s that additional benefit, too. And that brings us to the final perk from this shift.

“The use of a stainless steel battery case also reduces the difficulty of removing the battery, which will help Apple comply with the European Union’s requirements for mobile phone batteries’ replaceability in the future,” notes Kuo. As we explained in our article about how the EU wants batteries to last long and be easily accessible to consumers to allow for easier removal and replacement, Apple is reportedly preparing for that shift.

In a nutshell, the iPhone 16 Pro Max might not only deliver a boost in battery life but could also ease the chore of taking out the battery. That’s great news for DIY enthusiasts, and it would make the task easier for repair experts and might also bring down the costs of availing such services. But do keep in mind that manufacturing high-density is a pricey endeavor and might lead to increased costs that could eventually mean more expensive iPhones.

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It is unclear how exactly Apple is increasing battery density, but there are multiple methods to achieve it. Research suggests it could switch to using a more ion-dense electrode material, replace the liquid electrolyte with solid salt, or switch the solvent. This paper, published in the Highlights in Science, Engineering, and Technology journal, gives an overview of the innovation proposals.

 

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Apple’s Vision Pro goes on sale outside the US for the first time

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Apple’s Vision Pro goes on sale outside the US for the first time

Apple’s Vision Pro headset went on sale outside the United States for the first time today, in the first of two waves of expanded availability.

The $3,499 “spatial computing” device launched back in February in the US, but it hasn’t taken the tech world by storm. Part of that has been its regional launch, with some of the biggest markets still lacking access.

Apple announced that the product would be sold internationally during its keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month.

The first new markets to get Vision Pro shipments are China, Japan, and Singapore—those are the ones where it went on sale today.
A second wave will come on July 12, with the headset rolling out in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

When we first tested the Vision Pro in February, we wrote that it was a technically impressive device with a lot of untapped potential. It works very well as a personal entertainment device for frequent travelers, in particular. However, its applications for productivity and gaming still need to be expanded to justify the high price.

Of course, there have been conflicting rumors of late about just how expensive Apple plans to keep its mixed reality devices. One report claimed that the company put the brakes on a new version of the Vision Pro for now, opting instead to develop a cheaper alternative for a 2025 launch.

But another report in Bloomberg suggested that’s an overstatement. It simply noted that the Vision Pro 2 has been slightly delayed from its original target launch window and reported that the cheaper model will come first.

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In any case, availability will have to expand and the price will ultimately have to come down if augmented reality can become the major computing revolution that Apple CEO Tim Cook has predicted. This international rollout is the next step to test whether there’s a market for that.

 

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New AirPods Pro with cameras? It’s not as strange as it sounds.

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New AirPods Pro with cameras? It’s not as strange as it sounds.

Future versions of Apple’s AirPods Pro could be equipped with cameras to assist with Spatial Audio experiences, according to a well-known Apple analyst.

In a blog post, the Apple watcher Ming-Chi Kuo said the cameras wouldn’t be used in the conventional sense to capture imagery, but to make the audio product more aware of its environment.

The iPhone 14 Plus has just seen its price plummet over at John Lewis, letting you get the phone for £200 less than its current retail price at the Apple Store, and with a two-year warranty to boot.

Kuo says his supply chain sources say the IR camera is similar to what Apple uses for the Face ID receiver in iPhone handsets. He says the feature could come to the fore in current and future generations of the Vision Pro headset.

Kuo writes: “The new AirPods is expected to be used with Vision Pro and future Apple headsets to enhance the user experience of spatial audio and strengthen the spatial computing ecosystem.

“For example, when a user is watching a video with Vision Pro and wearing this new AirPods, if users turn their heads to look in a specific direction, the sound source in that direction can be emphasized to enhance the spatial audio/computing experience.”

It’s not precisely clear why existing AirPods Pro models, which already offer head tracked Spatial Audio through motion sensors, cannot accomplish this goal. However, the blog post goes also says the camera could be used to detect gestures too.

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He goes on to say that the IR camera will be able to detect changes in the environment “potentially enabling in-air gesture control to enhance human-device interaction.”

Kuo said to expect the product to arrive around 2026. However, it’s possible we’ll get a true third-generation AirPods Pro model well before then.

 

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Meta defends charging fee for privacy amid showdown with EU

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Meta defends charging fee for privacy amid showdown with EU

Meta continues to hit walls with its heavily scrutinized plan to comply with the European Union’s strict online competition law, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), by offering Facebook and Instagram subscriptions as an alternative for privacy-inclined users who want to opt out of ad targeting.

Today, the European Commission (EC) announced preliminary findings that Meta’s so-called “pay or consent” or “pay or OK” model—which gives users a choice to either pay for access to its platforms or give consent to collect user data to target ads—is not compliant with the DMA.

According to the EC, Meta’s advertising model violates the DMA in two ways. First, it “does not allow users to opt for a service that uses less of their personal data but is otherwise equivalent to the ‘personalized ads-based service.” And second, it “does not allow users to exercise their right to freely consent to the combination of their personal data,” the press release said.

Now, Meta will have a chance to review the EC’s evidence and defend its policy, with today’s findings kicking off a process that will take months. The EC’s investigation is expected to conclude next March. Thierry Breton, the commissioner for the internal market, said in the press release that the preliminary findings represent “another important step” to ensure Meta’s full compliance with the DMA.

“The DMA is there to give back to the users the power to decide how their data is used and ensure innovative companies can compete on equal footing with tech giants on data access,” Breton said.

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A Meta spokesperson told Ars that Meta plans to fight the findings—which could trigger fines up to 10 percent of the company’s worldwide turnover, as well as fines up to 20 percent for repeat infringement if Meta loses.

Meta continues to claim that its “subscription for no ads” model was “endorsed” by the highest court in Europe, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), last year.

“Subscription for no ads follows the direction of the highest court in Europe and complies with the DMA,” Meta’s spokesperson said. “We look forward to further constructive dialogue with the European Commission to bring this investigation to a close.”

However, some critics have noted that the supposed endorsement was not an official part of the ruling and that particular case was not regarding DMA compliance.

The EC agreed that more talks were needed, writing in the press release, “the Commission continues its constructive engagement with Meta to identify a satisfactory path towards effective compliance.”

 

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NCC enlightens media managers on developments in the telecoms sector…Allays fears on effects of communication spectrum

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Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani has announced a significant collaboration with the Ministry of Interior.

As part of efforts to enlighten the public on the growth trajectory and challenges facing the telecoms sector, Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) on Wednesday organized a two-day workshop in Abuja for senior journalists on trends, regulatory strides, challenges and prospects for consolidating the gains in the industry.

In his opening remarks at the workshop, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Commission, Dr. Aminu Maida said that the training is aimed to keep media practitioners abreast with the developments in the sector.

Maida, who was represented by the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services (CTS), Engr. Abraham Oshadami, underscored the essence of the event, saying that “we are having this engagement is so that you have full understanding of our industry.

“It will be easy for you to report and make it practical to those who will read to be able to understand better how the industry works. This also requires that your knowledge of laws, policies, regulations, guidelines and all that, need to be updated so that you don’t miss the current reality of our time.

“You are important stakeholders because you occupy that position of helping people to understand so you need to understand how it works before you can use it effectively. The importance of this gathering can never be over emphasized because the success of our industry depends largely on you, the media stakeholders.

“The way you write your report will determine how people understand it. It is your understanding of how it works that will also help you to understand what are the challenges and it is easier for you to help people to also understand. So you need to have knowledge of the activities of the regulators and also catch up with emerging technologies”.

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Meanwhile, Oshadami made his own presentation in which he stressed that waves emanating from communication spectrum have no harmful effect on the body, as wrongly speculated in some quarters.

Speaking on the topic “Optimizing Spectrum Administration in Telecommunication”, he said that there is no known findings since the advent of mobile phones that waves from telecommunication spectrum is injurious to the body.

According to him: “There is no research in any part of the world that shows that spectrum from communications equipment has negative impact on the body”.

Reacting to a question that the Commission may be economical with the truth to avoid causing panic in the society, he stressed that “I have used mobile phone for a very long time now. Why should I continue to use such an equipment when I know that it is harmful to my body?”

The CTS who is also an executive member of the International Communication Union (ITU), said that Nigerians have nothing to fear when it relates to spectrum or waves from telecommunications gadgets, radio or television waves used in the homes. He also added that the 5G technology also no effect on the body as wrongly believed in some quarters.

 

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