The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given MTN and Mafab Communication, two winners of the spectrum licences to deploy the fifth generation (5G) technology in the country, August 24, 2022 timeline rollout date in line with the information memorandum (IM) of the licensees.
Its Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Prof Garba Danbatta who dropped in Lagos said the deployment will open a new vista of opportunities for economic development.
Welcoming participants to the 90th edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament in Lagos, he said Nigeria has an estimated population of 214 million with an average growth rate of 2.6 per cent annually, approximately 76.46 per cent of the population is under the age of 35.
”In line with these demographic changes, internet penetration grew from three per cent in 2004 to 73.82 per cent as of September, 2021 and broadband penetration increased from less than 10 per cent in 2015 to 40.01 per cent in September, 2021. The potential for expansion is a great opportunity for 5G deployment as operators are certain of recouping their investment.
He said the goal of the Commission is that Nigeria becomes one of the leading nations with 5G technology deployed in a manner that is beneficial to all stakeholders and contributes maximally to the Digital Economy Policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The August 24 timeline came amid challenges identified by the Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity at NCC, Bako Wakil. The challenges include inflation and foreign exchange rates, quality and adequate power supply as the world moves to go green, devices affordability and many others.
He said the inability of the between 500 and 1,000 megabytes per second (Mbps) capacity from traditional microwaves to meet the 20 gigabytes per second (Gbps)demand of 5G calls for stepping-up into the E-band spectrum.
Wakil said in order to fiberize the towers/base stations, the issue of Right-of-Way (RoW) must be well addressed, adding that subjecting the barrage of IoT devices to the Type Approval process within a limited timeframe is another daunting challenge.
Speaking on 5G Networks: Opportunities and Challenges, said by August, MTN and Mafab were expected to complete band clearance and commencement of roll out, adding that by June, 2023, rollout of services in at least two states in each geo-political zones of the country while by June 2024, the operators were expected to have rolled-out services in at least six states in each of the geo-political zones.
By June 2025, the operators are expected to have completed a pan Nigeria rollout of 5G.
Allaying the fears of people who think 5G will disenfranchise them from the network, he said the 5G network will co-exist with its predecessor generation of wireless networks.
“In most parts of the world, the successor generation of mobile networks does not supplant the predecessor generation networks, until when it becomes very necessary to decommission the oldest generation network. While 4G is H2M interaction, 5G is M2M interaction.
He said 1ms latency is a unique feature of 5G when compared with the human brain that takes 10 ms to process information. For example, he said doctors can do a CT scan remotely, users watching AR/VR based entertainment while it is good for factories using instant data to tweak production processes.
Driverless cars, he said, can avoid obstacles almost instantly with the technology.
Speaking on the occasion in which Mafab presence was visibly felt, an MTN official reiterated the readiness of the telecom firm to roll out in line with the NCC directive.
The official who identified himself as Chinedu, said the company has submitted a report to the NCC to eschew interference from other regulatory agencies, adding that the operator will switch on using non-stand -alone policy with 4G. “Come August 24, we will be live on 5G,” he said authoritatively.