Nigeria’s telecoms regulatory chief has again staked his words that 5G services will go live in Nigeria come August 24, even if mobile subscribers may get “limited service.”
MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, the largest mobile phone company in the country, and Mafab Communication Limited, a new-entrant technology firm, are expected to launch commercial 5G services after winning 3.5Ghz spectrum licences assigned by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for nationwide deployment of the fifth-generation mobile technology.
“Our profound prayers are that those who emerged bidders, preferred bidders, from that auction will keep the promise of rolling out, even if it’s limited services, limited 5G services, by this year, specifically August 24,” Professor Garba Danbatta told attendees on Tuesday at the two-day Nigerian Telecom Leadership Summit 2022 underway in Lagos.
Nigeria: The Road to 5G
Nigeria’s successful 5G spectrum auctions, Danbatta says, have continued to receive positive feedback from around the world, while he assures that the mobile technology offering faster transmission speed for data and other applications will deliver benefits to subscribers in the country.
“Some of these digital content will leverage 5G to deliver high-quality experiences to consumers,” the telecoms regulatory chief told attendees at the NCC-organised Summit on the theme, “The Future of Telecom Regulation in Nigeria.”
NCC announced recently that following the auctions held in December last year, MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications have been assigned their spectrum after payments of the balance of their winning bids.
On February 24, 2022, NCC confirmed the full payment of $273.6 million each by the two spectrum winners, including spectrum assignment fee paid by MTN, for the 5G spectrum licence.
“While the licensees are expected to meet the timetable regarding their 5G network rollout obligations, the telecoms regulator says it “requires collective efforts and support of the private-sector and government toward transforming every aspect of the nation’s economy through 5G, which will herald greater transformation than what the nation witnessed with the 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G.”
Meanwhile, the telecoms agency will be providing incentives to telecoms companies that “are having difficulties, Danbatta tells the Summit while explaining that it was designed to promote interaction with and among key stakeholders in the telecoms sector and provides a forum to discuss, in an open manner, issues “militating against the growth of our industry, proffer solutions and initiatives that can improve the industry.”
He says the Federal Government, through the Communication and Digital Economy Ministry, has reviewed and launched the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 which articulated the roadmap for deepening the nation’s penetration of high-speed internet service with the high being “how we are going to achieve 70% broadband penetration by the year 2025.”
The NCC chief says that having exceeded the 30% broadband target set for 2018, the Federal Government was now even more ambitious with the goal to reach 70% which is “more than twice the target we achieved way back in 2018 and this time by the year 2025.”
Sectoral reforms and effective policies implementation of the National Policy on 5G will accelerate the actualisation of the national targets in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, as well as other sectoral policies designed to enhance Nigeria’s digital transformation, according to NCC.
“So all these policies and plans with respect to promoting innovation for the sustainability and continuous development of the Nigerian communication sector, are helping us to move the sector forward with confidence and with commitment in order to meet the set targets.”
Danbatta says that “this has also provided a platform for Nigerian youth to engage in innovative developments for the telecoms industry and improve the nation’s ability to compete in the global economy.”
According to him, “currently, we are witnessing new business deliveries and breakthroughs due to the expansion of boundaries of small and medium enterprises which have contributed to the growth of the digital economy.”
For him, “some of these digital content will leverage 5G to deliver high-quality experiences to consumers,” he tells the Summit.
According to Danbatta, “it has become imperative as critical stakeholders to appraise the progress we have made so far as an industry and chart the course for the future of the telecoms industry in Nigeria. It is on good record that the telecoms sector was one of the critical sectors of the economy that succeeded in taking the country, this country, out of recession. This is very very well-reported in the media, in the year 2020.”
He reckons that the “growth of the sector in the last few years clearly indicates the role it plays in rapid development and transformation of the Nigerian economy.
“I, therefore, urge you all as committed stakeholders to deliberate and come up with far-reaching recommendations which will positively impact the future of the communications industry in this country.”