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Telcos vow to deactivate SIM cards not linked to NIN

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Subscribers kick against Friday deadline, demand extension

Telecom operators are proceeding to bar calls from phone numbers that are yet to be linked to their National Identity Numbers (NIN) as at Friday, 29 March.

The operators say although they are not unmindful of the financial losses the exercise might bring to them they have to comply with the directive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on the matter.

The Federal Government had said the linkage was to aid its quest for credible data for national security.

The operators, acting under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), said the Federal Government has given enough timeline for subscribers to link their National Identity Numbers (NINs) with their Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs), adding that the timeline had to end someday.

Chairman of the group, Gbenga Adebayo, in a telephone interview yesterday said the final instruction to disconnect defaulting subscribers has been on since 2022.

He said the fact that the matter lingered this long implied that the operators had about two years to address the matter. He said it would not be right to say the commission has not done enough.

“It wouldn’t be right that we didn’t seek the extension of time,” he said.

“We can’t continue that in perpetuity. We can’t continue to seek for an extension. So what has happened is that efforts have been made in 2022.”

Adebayo could not say the number of SIM cards that would be barred.

According to him, such information would start coming in this week.

“So many subscribers have sent their details and are awaiting confirmation. So it is still a lot of work on the zero hours of 29th of March. So we can start looking at the numbers from Monday to see how many people are affected. So we are still having a lot of attempts to verify the NIN to submit even as we speak,” Adebayo said.

Barring calls implies that subscribers whose SIM cards have not been linked to their NINs will not be allowed to make calls until the linkage is done.

The NCC insisted that the directive for disconnection is being rolled out in stages, with the second phase set for 29 March as earlier announced.

It said the initial phase took place at the end of February.

“We issued a publication that you can refer to. We specified certain deadlines and stipulated that subscribers who do not comply with the directive would be barred. And that has not changed.

“29th of February was when those that have not submitted their NIN to be linked to the SIM to be barred and those that have been barred.

“We published another deadline for those who have submitted their NIN but it failed because it has not been verified, that is the one that is due for disconnection today. While another set is the ones with ghost verification, these are for those who have more than five numbers.”

The Commission’s objective is to clean the country’s SIM ownership database and enhance homeland security, it was gathered.

“The commission is committed to ensuring that criminals do not take advantage of having multiple unlinked SIMs to carry out their nefarious activities,” an industry expert said.

MTN Nigeria, the largest operator, reported that over 4.2 million lines were disconnected from its network after the February 28 deadline.

The Max-4 rule announced by the Federal Government in April 2021 provided that telecom subscribers cannot have more than four lines per mobile network operator.

The NCC had also provided Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) an extension till 31 July, to verify all NINs submitted by subscribers with four or fewer SIMs, as well as bar those which NINs fail verification with NIMC.

The compulsory linkage began in 2020 when the government directed telecommunication companies to block calls from unregistered and unlinked lines.

The policy was expected to help the authorities in fighting bandits and terrorists who kidnap and kill innocent people daily. Despite the extension of deadlines, many phone lines are yet to be linked.

Last week, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the NCC issued a joint statement unveiling a strategic partnership aimed at simplifying the NIN-SIM linkage procedures for telecommunications subscribers nationwide.

Both agencies reaffirmed their dedication to enhancing the processes involved and improving efficiency regarding the NIN and SIM card linkage initiative.

They acknowledged the importance of this initiative in bolstering security measures and enhancing service delivery across the country.

 

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‘How TikTok changed us’

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In the coming days, Congress may advance a bill to ban TikTok or force its sale to an American company. Politicians in both parties call the

In the coming days, Congress may advance a bill to ban TikTok or force its sale to an American company. Politicians in both parties call the app a threat to national security. But its reach is felt most acutely in our culture.

Since it first arrived in the United States in 2018 (after merging with another app), its 15-second gulps of entertainment have become a fixture in the lives of tens of millions of Americans — including those who’ve never opened the app.

The engine that powers this juggernaut is TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, which figures out what users like and populates a customized feed of addictive videos. It’s called the For You Page, or FYP. It was not built to connect people with friends, the way Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat were. It was built to entertain.

As the app fights the most serious threat yet to its autonomy, my colleagues and I explored the ways that its innovation has reshaped American lives. In today’s newsletter, I’ll spotlight a few of them.

Hollywood

The film industry at first ignored and feared TikTok. But it eventually embraced the platform as a marketing tool for a new generation of moviegoers. The Sony romantic comedy “Anyone But You” drew a weak $8 million in ticket sales over Christmas weekend, my colleague Brooks Barnes, who covers Hollywood companies, writes. But “the movie turned into a full-fledged hit ($219 million) after TikTok users (at the urging of Sony) began making videos of themselves re-enacting the credit sequence.” The app is virtually a “ticket-selling machine,” he writes.

Schools

A few schools have removed bathroom mirrors because so many students were leaving class to film TikTok videos there. These clips constitute “a TikTok genre, dating back at least five years, in which students use school bathrooms as film sets for dance routines, lip-syncing clips or critiques of unclean lavatories,” my colleague Natasha Singer, who covers tech use in schools, writes. School bathrooms have also become “arenas to stage, film and post videos of bullying, physical assaults on schoolmates and acts of vandalism.”

News

For 14 percent of American adults, TikTok is a regular news source, up from 3 percent in 2020. People who don’t have traditional backgrounds in journalism, akin to bloggers for the TikTok era, aggregate and share information in snappy videos. Traditional news outlets are scrambling to catch up — and fretting about accuracy and context. Organizations including The New York Times are also making short-form videos in which reporters talk to the camera about their stories, the TikTok way.

Cooking

Recipes got a makeover on TikTok, as creators depart from static images and step-by-step instructions. My colleague Becky Hughes, NYT Cooking’s social media editor, writes that traditional recipes have given way to looser concepts. That has helped create trends like eggs fried in a puddle of pesto, sandwich fillings chopped into a homogenous mixture and mini pancakes served like cereal, she says. “The most shareable recipes are the ones that you can watch once, then turn around and make — no measurements, bake times or reading needed,” she writes. “Just dump, stir, like, follow, repeat.”

Our story also chronicles how TikTok has prompted self-diagnoses of ADHD and replaced window shopping at the mall. My colleagues looked at the app’s knack for spreading conspiracy theories, its fight with Taylor Swift’s record label and the secrecy around its algorithm.

We hope you’ll spend some time on these articles, even if it’s only to check how many TikTok “microtrends,” such as glazed-donut skin and sleepy-girl mocktails, you’ve heard of.

By Sapna Maheshwari, The New York Times 

 

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Finally, Meta rolls out WhatsApp AI feature

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Meta has begun rolling out its AI assistant across all its platforms in seven countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Meta has begun rolling out its AI assistant across all its platforms in seven countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The AI assistant is available on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger and can access real-time information from across the web without leaving the app.

It said users will be able to create images from text using its AI imagine feature. The rollout is in Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

Meta said its AI assistant in English will enhance connections and provide people with tools to be more creative, expressive and productive.

The company also launched its feature in countries outside the US, such as Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Singapore, and announced the launch of its AI website.

“We want Meta AI to be available when you’re trying to get things done at your computer too, so we’re rolling out meta.ai (the website) today,” it stated.

While announcing this update, Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Meta, said: “Our goal is to build the world’s leading AI. We believe Meta AI is now the most intelligent AI assistant that you can freely use. To make Meta AI even smarter, we’ve also integrated real-time knowledge from Google and Bing right into the answers. We’re also making it much easier to use across our apps.”

He said the expansion of Meta AI to Nigeria and others will provide real-time information through its seamless search integration in the apps users know. He noted that new features of the AI include the ability to animate images, iterate on them in a new style, or even turn them into a GIF to share with friends.

Zuckerberg further stated that the AI assistant has been integrated into the search boxes at the top of WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger.

“We also built some unique creation features, like the ability to animate photos. Meta AI now generates high-quality images so fast that it creates and updates them in real time as you’re typing. It’ll also generate a playback video of your creation process,” he added.

Meta first announced it would roll out Meta AI on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram in September 2023.

BusinessDay

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NCC hosts South Korean delegation over implementations of Information Technology Centre

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In a bid to further strengthen Nigeria’s role in the ICT field, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has received a delegation from

In a bid to further strengthen Nigeria’s role in the ICT field, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has received a delegation from South Korea.

The South Korean delegation was also visiting to explore joint efforts to implement the Information Access Centre (IAC).

The delegation is headed by prominent South Korean technology leaders who have held talks with NCC officials to share knowledge and expertise on establishing the IAC.

The Information Access Centre (IAC) will develop important knowledge and tools, especially in the field of communications, to promote innovation and development in Nigeria’s digital sector.

L- R; Executive Principal, Department of Global ICT Cooperation/ Global ICT Project Team, Mr Un Jong, JI, Executive Commissioner Technical Services, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Engr Abraham Oshadami; Group Head Corporate Services DBI, Ms Viola Askia Usoro; Senior Manager Department of Global ICT Cooperation/Global Digital Transformation Team, South Korea, Mr Kim Dohum, during a Courtesy visit to the Commission Headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday 17 April 2024.

While at the NCC, the two sides exchanged views on strategies and best practices for the effective implementation of the Information Access Centre (IAC)

The delegation from South Korea praised the NCC’s efforts to promote transparency and access to the telecommunications industry and expressed its willingness to support the establishment of the IAC.

Through this collaboration, the partners expect significant improvements in the dissemination and access of information, which will ultimately contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria’s telecommunications sector.

 

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Samsung awarded $6.4 billion in grants to boost Texas chip output

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The Biden administration will award up to $6.4 billion in grants to South Korea's Samsung, to expand its chip production in central Texas

The Biden administration will award up to $6.4 billion in grants to South Korea’s Samsung, to expand its chip production in central Texas as part of a broader effort to boost U.S. chipmaking, the Department of Commerce said on Monday.

The funding from the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act will support two chip production facilities, a research center and a packaging facility, in Taylor, Texas, the agency said.

It will also enable Samsung to expand its Austin, Texas, semiconductor facility, Commerce Department Secretary Gina Raimondo added, while boosting chip output for the aerospace, defense and auto industries and bolstering national security, administration officials told reporters.

“(These investments) will allow the U.S. to once again lead the world, not just in semiconductor design, which is where we do now lead, but also in manufacturing, advanced packaging, and research and development,” Raimondo said.

Samsung Electronics Co-CEO Kyung Kye Hyun said: “To meet the expected surge in demand from U.S. customers, for future products like AI chips, our fabs will be equipped for cutting-edge process technologies and help bring security to the U.S. semiconductor supply chain.”

Samsung said it expects to begin production in 2026. Analysts have estimated Samsung is likely to begin making 4-nanometer chips at its pilot production line and eventually expand to 2-nanometer chips.

The announcement, which made Samsung the third-largest Chips Act award recipient, is the latest move by the U.S. Biden administration to build out the chipmaking industry in the United States.

The U.S. share of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity has fallen from 37 percent in 1990 to 12 percent in 2020, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

“By investing in leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing, we are helping secure this vulnerable supply chain, boosting our national security and global competitiveness, and creating new jobs for Texans,” said John Cornyn, a Republican senator from Texas who cosponsored the original legislation.

Samsung is expected to invest roughly $45 billion in building and expanding its Texas facilities through the end of the decade, said senior administration officials.

“We applaud Samsung for investing boldly in U.S.-based manufacturing and salute the U.S. Commerce Department for making significant headway in implementing the CHIPS Act’s manufacturing incentives and R&D programs,” SIA said in a statement.

Intel won $8.5 billion in grants last month while Taiwan’s TSMC clinched $6.6 billion in April to build out its American production.

 

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Cyber alert: How to safeguard online accounts, by NCC

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Telecommunication regulatory body in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), is not only concern about creating enabling

Telecommunication regulatory body in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), is not only concern about creating enabling environments for the stakeholders in the industry to thrive, it is also very mindful of the need for the subscribers to enjoy the services being provided and how best they can secure themselves from cyber attacks.

On a regular basis, the NCC do educate Nigerian telecom subscribers by giving value adding tips on what the industry can give them.

The latest tips from the NCC was on cyber attacks and how the subscribers can safeguard their online accounts through creation of strong passwords.

The PAPERS reports that a cyber attack is a set of actions performed by threat actors, who try to gain unauthorized access, steal data or cause damage to computers, computer networks, or other computing systems. A cyber attack can be launched from any location. The attack can be performed by an individual or a group using one or more tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs).

Password on the other hand is a string of characters that allows access to a computer system or service. Each user has a password in order to log on to the network.

The NCC on its official Facebook handle warned subscribers to always go for a strong password in order to safeguard unauthorized access to the data on their phones.

“Safeguard your online accounts (banks, digital media and others) by creating strong and complex passwords,” the NCC says.

If you have a strong and complex passwords in place, you are guarding against cyber attackers who have the intentional effort to steal, expose, alter, disable, or destroy data, applications, or other assets through unauthorized access to your network, computer system or digital device.

 

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Google approaches $2 trillion valuation with record high stock price

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Alphabet, the parent company of Google, soared to its highest-ever share price on Tuesday, riding the crest of the artificial

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, soared to its highest-ever share price on Tuesday, riding the crest of the artificial intelligence (AI) wave to achieve a historic valuation.

The stock surged to an all-time intraday peak of $159.89 per share before settling at a closing price of $158.14, marking a 1.3% gain amid modest broader market losses.

This milestone propelled Alphabet’s total market value to $1.95 trillion, edging it closer to the $2 trillion mark. This elite $2 trillion club currently includes only American tech giants such as Microsoft, Apple, and Nvidia, alongside Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabia-controlled oil behemoth.

Alphabet’s recent ascent is underpinned by a 13% increase in its share price year-to-date and an impressive 77% leap since the end of 2022. These gains were fueled by record profits stemming from robust advertising spending and investor optimism surrounding the company’s AI potential.

Wall Street analysts anticipate Alphabet’s continued rise, with an average price target of $166 implying a $2.1 trillion market capitalization, Forbes first reported.

What you should know
Despite Alphabet’s stellar performance, its annualized return on investment over the past decade stands at 19%, trailing its trillion-dollar peers such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Meta, and Nvidia, which have achieved over 20% annualized returns. This divergence reflects market sentiment towards Alphabet’s AI offerings, though recent developments suggest improving sentiment as Google emerges as a frontrunner in generative AI.

Looking ahead, investors await Alphabet’s first-quarter earnings report later this month, with analysts anticipating a record Q1 profit of nearly $19 billion. This will provide a further insight into Alphabet’s trajectory and its continued evolution as a dominant force in the tech landscape, driven by its innovative AI-driven initiatives and resilient advertising revenue.

In February Google faced a $90 billion drop in market valuation, largely due to its Gemini AI service generating inaccurate racial images of historical people. Its share price fell through 4.5% at $138.75.

Alphabet Inc., an American technology conglomerate and holding company, was established in 2015 through the strategic reorganization of Google and its diverse subsidiaries. Functioning as Google’s parent entity, Alphabet embodies Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s vision for ongoing technological advancement across various domains such as healthcare, entertainment, transportation, venture capital financing, and artificial intelligence (AI).

The restructuring aimed to streamline Google’s core business operations while providing greater autonomy to other businesses under Alphabet’s umbrella.

Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped down from their executive roles in December 2019, with Sundar Pichai assuming the CEO position, overseeing both Google and Alphabet. Despite their resignations, Page and Brin remain actively involved as employees, board members, and controlling shareholders of Alphabet Inc.

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