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Wednesday, 7.12.2022
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After a long and anxious wait, MTN Nigeria, one of the two operators that won the 3.5gigahertz (GHz) spectrum licence dedicated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the deployment of the fifth generation (5G) technology in the country, has finally rolled out the new service. LUCAS AJANAKU writes on the implications of the new technology and why subscribers need to streamline their expectations with current socio-economic realities.

For MTN and its about 70million subscribers in Nigeria, August 24, 2022, is an appointment with history. On that day, MTN led the way to a much-awaited 5G world in Africa’s biggest economy. That day was specifically set aside by the telecoms sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the deployment of 5G technology in the country to begin the journey into a promising future for a technology projected to contribute some $2.2 trillion to the global economy by 2034, according to a 2020 GSMA Intelligence report entitled: The Mobile Economy.

That day, MTN Nigeria kicked off an open 5G pilot in the lead-up to its highly anticipated commercial launch. It said it intends to launch 5G services in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano, Owerri, and Maiduguri, adding that it is testing the next-generation network infrastructure. It said customers with certain enabled devices will be allowed to connect with and try out the new service where coverage is available. The advanced technology promises to extend the reach and capacity of MTN Nigeria’s data network in Nigeria and enable much faster speeds and lower latency, giving customers near-instant access to the things they care about and downloads that take seconds, instead of minutes.

The Chief Marketing Officer, MTN Nigeria, Adia Sowho, said: “Every major technological evolution redefines what is possible – changing the way we live and the way we connect. MTN Nigeria has been at the forefront of every leap in telecommunications: from GSM to 2G, 3G, and 4G. 5G has the potential to change everything. It will allow us to connect, create, collaborate, and compete in ways we’ve not even begun to imagine. We’re honoured to be a part of this revolution and, being the first to bring 5G to Nigeria, we are truly excited about all the possibilities for the nation.”

What 5G means, its benefits and how the rollout journey began

According to experts, the implementation of 5G will accelerate the actualisation of the national targets in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, as well as other sectoral policies designed to enhance Nigeria’s digital transformation. With this launch, leveraging the largest spectrum dedicated to 5G in Africa, Nigeria will join a handful of African countries that have rolled out the 5G network. When it comes to testing or deploying 5G in Africa, Nigeria is joining Ethiopia, Botswana, Egypt, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

The federal government didn’t just wake up and suddenly caught the fancy of 5G technology. The transition from 1G with its analogue mobile voice feature to 2G with digital voice efficiency to reach billions of people; then 3G with focus on mobile data; 4G mobile broadband and emerging expansion to an ultimately 5G that promises to provide a unified connectivity fabric for the next decade – it was a well-planned exercise. A 5G trial was done on Nov 26, 2019 in six locations with Abuja being the first.

As a matter of fact, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) gave approval for the National Policy on Fifth Generation (5G) Networks for Nigeria’s Digital Economy. The policy was approved at the Council meeting following the presentation by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami. “The implementation of the National Policy is with immediate effect. The National Policy has been developed over a period of two years, due to the need for extensive stakeholder engagement and the need to ensure adequate public awareness and sensitization. The stakeholders’ engagement was thorough and multi-sectoral in nature. It also took into account the report of the three-month 5G trials that commenced on the 25th of November 2019. The report critically reviewed and studied the health and security implications of deploying 5G in Nigeria.

“Leading international organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an organ of the United Nations, have confirmed that the deployment of 5G networks leave no adverse health effects and are safe. 5G networks offer significant advantages over the current technologies. Some of its advantages include much lower latency, higher bandwidth, greater device density, longer battery life for nodes and greater network flexibility,” Pantami’s Technical Adviser, Dr Femi Adeluyi, had said in a statement.

The 5G stands for the 5th generation mobile network. It is a new global wireless standard after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. 5G enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices. Emerging 5G networks feature lower latency, higher capacity, and increased bandwidth compared to 4G. These network improvements will have far-reaching impacts on how people live, work, and play all over the world. In the world of evolving technology, 5G will promote the internet of things (IoT) and boost the Smart City Agenda of Lagos State.

According to reports, while it takes 22 minutes to download a high-definition movie on a 4G network, it will only take 32 seconds on a 5G network. Based on its elasticity, 5G networks are also projected to be able to service a million devices within a square kilometre — 100 times more than 4G networks can handle in the same area. According to the Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity at NCC, Bako Wakil, 5G was designed to meet the very large growth in data and connectivity of today’s society, the IoT with billions connected devices, and future’s innovations; fast response time (low Latency); open up many use cases that will revive many industries. Billions of devices, he said, will be connected in smart homes, smart schools, smart cities, smart and safer vehicles enhance health care and education, and many others, adding that devices will have increased computing capabilities.

Pantami said 5G will be approximately 20 times faster than 4G. It will open many opportunities for businesses because of the quality of the service and at the same time, it will allow many devices to get connected, meaning everything will be connected. In security, it will promote remote surveillance where you can have so many facilities like robots attached to IoT and many more. Security operatives will be able to deploy it to have real time communication, including in remote areas where they cannot be physically present. It will help major companies especially those that require very strong broadband to participate in remote operation and many more including oil and gas from discovery to production to refining. When it comes to individuals, it will help in telemedicine and tele-surgery.

The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, agreed no less with Pantami and Wakil. He said every layer of improvement in telecommunication has brought a difference in user experience and significant improvement in the quality of services delivered to the end user. “The major advantage of 5G is that you have a high volume of data transfer between person to person and person to machine and the world today is talking about virtual reality. All these applications will ride on 5G. Electronic gaming, electronic sports and e-commerce will be better with 5G. Big data, high data transfer, high speed of communication, high quality communication will be guaranteed,” he said.

5G means extra cost to subscribers

Adebayo said all releases by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the last year or so are 5G ready. “A lot of the Android phones now are ready to go on 5G technology for individuals who might want to use 5G; they may need to change their devices but this might not happen for those who do not have need for 5G. 5G machine2machine protocol; just programme the device to 5G. As long as we have many countries rolling out 5G, when the volume increases, the price will drop. So I will not be surprised that in another year, we get a device that is as cheap as N10,000 that is 5G compliant,” he said.

But MTN has advised its customers that want to access the 5G network and enjoy its benefits to buy compatible devices, such as routers and mobile phones, which can be pre-ordered from designated MTN walk-in stores and online via the MTN Nigeria website and e-marketplace. The pre-ordered devices can be picked up or will be delivered to customers post the launch event scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Lucas Ajanaku

Quelle/Source: The Nation, 05.09.2022

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