Nigeria on the Path of 5G Development

The Senate has approved the deployment of 5G Network in Nigeria, following the consideration and adoption of the recommendations contained in the report of its Joint Committees on Communications; Science and Technology; ICT and Cyber Crimes; and Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases on ‘The Status of 5G Network in Nigeria and its Technological Impact on Nigeria Citizens’.

Presenting the report of the Joint Committees at the plenary session, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu (APC Lagos), noted that the concerns raised by citizens on the deployment of the 5G network and probable negative effect on health and general well-being of people necessitated the Senate to investigate the matter.

According to Sen. Tinubu, the Joint Committees had received submission from the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy; the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA); and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

In fact, Nigeria has picked up the pace to join Kenya and South Africa to become one of the countries pioneering 5G deployment in Africa.

The country’s latest move to prepare for national activation of 5G happened earlier this month, when its communications agency signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the communications satellite firm, NigcomSat, to allow 5G services to ride on its C-band frequency spectrum (this spectrum accounts for 60-70% of the commercial deployment of 5G networks globally).

“The importance of this spectrum for early deployment of 5G services in Nigeria cannot be overemphasised,” Umar Garba Danbatta, Vice Chair of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said in a statement.

In 2019, Nigeria became the first West African country to initiate 5G network trials when its biggest telecoms provider, MTN Nigeria, ran spectrum tests in its offices across several locations. With support from mobile operators like Huawei, ZTE and Ericsson, the initial demos proved successful.

In June last year, the NCC began coordinating with stakeholders to create policies governing the commercial implementation of 5G. Last year, the government also began to actively dispel health-related concerns regarding the technology and conspiracy theories associating 5G with the coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to its 5G demos in Nigeria, MTN conducted similar trials in South Africa before launching 5G publicly last July, together with Vodacom. Kenya followed swiftly on an official rollout last month, making it the second African country to deploy 5G according to the GSMA, an organisation representing mobile network operators worldwide. It defines the rollout of a commercial 5G network as one in which a customer can purchase a 5G subscription.

Nigerian regulators have been quick to welcome the possibilities and promises of faster speed, enhanced capacity, and reduced latency that accompany the 5th generation of cellular technology. The NCC has high hopes that the tech will “improve the way Nigerians live and work” by advancing smart transportation, medicine, manufacturing, the internet of things, and more.

It is easy to understand why wireless communications technology has become increasingly important over time: by facilitating increased access to information on the go, advances in wireless communications have facilitated improvements in business, education, and technology around the world. As mobile communications improve, so too do connections among people.
Analysts often say that 5G will usher in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and change the economy. Because of the speed and capacity that Verizon’s 5G network promises to bring, it has the potential to be an indispensable technology. It is estimated that by 2035, 5G “will enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output and support 22 million jobs worldwide.”

Nigeria will derive huge socio-economic benefits from commercial deployment of the Fifth Generation (5G) Networks, which will come with great potentials that will bolster Nigeria’s socio-economic ecosystem for quantifiable growth.

Interestingly, 5G is the newest generation of technology which will bring about transformation in the country in the area of smart city, smart transportation, efficiency in medicine, a lot of automation, and it will control a lot of appliances and devices, with respect to Internet of Things (IoT).

In other words, the difference between all other existing generations of technologies such as 2G, 3G, and 4G, and what 5G offers lies in speed and data capacity. The 5G deployment, however, offers even faster speed, high latency, and high capacity that will transform consumers and business experiences.

Also, 5G is not only important because it has the potential to support millions of devices at ultrafast speeds, but also because it has the potential to transform the lives of people around the world.
It is important to note that improvements in 5G technology can help make life better. For example, significant advances in autonomous vehicle technology are possible with 5G, creating the potential for people to have new levels of personal and professional freedom. Connected appliances can help automate tasks around the house, which can not only improve personal convenience, but also help those who need assistance with everyday tasks.

5G can also power technology well beyond what current mobile technology permits. Thanks to its speed and bandwidth, 5G promises to make significant improvements in 3D holograms, virtual reality, and augmented reality, creating opportunities to connect people far beyond what current cellular technology allows.

Access to 5G technology promises to improve mission-critical services that affect safety and security of services today. Opportunities include smart cities with 5G in public spaces, the potential for remote surgery, better traffic control, and many other applications that depend on nearly instantaneous response time.

Beyond Nigeria and across Africa, about 18 African countries have started testing 5G, including Lesotho, Gabon, and Egypt. Given how few countries have officially launched the technology, GSMA says that widespread 5G adoption in sub-Saharan Africa “is inevitable but not imminent.”

As such, 5G rollout in Africa is expected to take place in fits and spurts in the next few years. Most markets in the region will be slow to pursue it, say analysts, since existing technologies are capable of supporting current use cases and demand for mobile internet connectivity.

One of the biggest concerns that may prevent the mass adoption of 5G in sub-Saharan Africa is low mass penetration of previous cellular generations. 3G and 4G networks only overtook 2G in 2019.

There are also major gaps in coverage overall — a quarter of people on the continent are not covered by a mobile broadband signal, and half of those do not use the internet. This is referred to as the “usage gap”. Between 2014 and 2019, the usage gap on the continent widened by 13%, due to slow growth in newly covered areas.

While many of the applications for 5G are expected to directly impact how businesses run, the implications for accessibility, the reach of mobile broadband, and the improvements in society’s safety, health, and security have the potential to be farther reaching.

5G technology is important for consumers as well as businesses, as the world moves into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and explores all that 5G has to offer, including things Nigeria likely have not thought of yet. Keying into the revolution would be highly beneficial to Nigeria and Nigerians..

Categories: Nation