Nigeria’s steps taken towards deployment of 5G mobile services have reached 97% readiness level, the telecoms regulator says.
Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) told attendees Wednesday at the African Tech Alliance Forum (AfriTech 2021) held in Lagos on the theme: “Embracing Changes and Digital Transformation in the New Normal” that the telecoms regulator, which had earlier announced an auction team, the deployment plan is gaining momentum.
“Already, we are set for the auction of some spectrum slots in the 3.5GHz band. The other day I was at the National assembly, I informed the Senate that we were 95% ready for 5G. Today as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97% completion,” Danbatta, represented by Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, NCC Director of Spectrum Administration, says in his presentation on “NCC as a Digital Transformation Crusader and Nigeria’s in-Road to 5G Deployment.”
5G Deployment Plan Approved by FG, NCC says
According to the NCC chief, “the Committee set up to auction the Spectrum has already developed an Information Memorandum (IM) which is already published for inputs and comments from all industry stakeholders. Prior to this, a 5G deployment plan was developed and we have since secured Federal Government’s approval.”
Following the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a change in the dynamics of people’s interaction, especially on the Internet, he says, underscoring that almost every means of communication has become virtual in one way or the other.
This paradigm shift in communication has led to a significant increase in network connectivity requirements as a result of the unprecedented upsurge in Internet traffic, occasioned by the use of a plethora of web applications such as Zoom, Microsoft teams, WebEx, Goto, Webinar, and so on, he adds, explaining that this shift has made remote work, virtual meetings, virtual studies, and virtual healthcare delivery, among others, “the new normal.”
Though Nigeria’s network infrastructure has demonstrated some capacity to contain the surge in internet traffic, he says a lot of work is being done by the NCC to boost network capacity, sensitise the public and ensure accessibility to affordable connectivity during the period of the pandemic and beyond.
Due to the network traffic demand, Danbatta says the telecoms regulator is working with operators to implement a number of initiatives to ensure network expansion including the plan underway to auction spectrum in 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) band to operators for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria.
“Consistent with our mandate as enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA-2003) and other guiding legislations, we have been working to ensure the penetration of broadband services in line with Federal Government’s targets, as contained in Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020 to 2025”, he says.
According to him, this is in addition to other initiatives by the NCC to improve broadband connectivity in Nigeria, adding that the Internet traffic surge induced by COVID-19 has continued to challenge National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) and other arms of governments to ensure deployment of adequate resources such as spectrum and other forms of support to increase network resilience and accessibility to telecommunication services.
The NCC chief says that “emerging technologies such as 5G, which NCC is driving aggressively in Nigeria, Internet of Things (IoT); Cloud Computing; Quantum Computing Augmented/Virtual Reality, and similar emerging technologies are playing a critical role in improving remote communication over the internet with great user experience. The NCC is committed to promoting this inevitable change and enhancing user experience through effective regulation of the telecoms sector.”