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Telecoms regulator rallies industry, seeks collaboration as 5G deployment nears

• MTN assures on technology, rural connectivity

Reiterating the August 24 date for the deployment of the Fifth-Generation (5G) network in Nigeria, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has rallied the industry and urged stakeholders to collaborate for the success of the technology in the country.


Danbatta, who said industry collaboration has become a key element if the technology must thrive in Nigeria, urged industry stakeholders to stand with the Commission to explore the prospects and potentials of the new technology, which is enormous.   


Danbatta, who spoke at the 90th edition of the Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP) hosted by the Consumer Affairs Bureau of the Commission, said the policy framework for the deployment has come into place and will facilitate deployment of services by the recent winners of the 3.5GHz spectrum auction, MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd and MAFAB Communications Ltd. 


He said the Commission has set out the regulatory instruments needed for fast deployment of the new versatile technology for the benefit of the consumers and the stakeholders.  


Danbatta, therefore, invited the support of all stakeholders to ensure that 5G technology is deployed in Nigeria in a manner beneficial to all telecoms consumers and to support the emergent Digital Economy Policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria. 


He highlighted the potential use cases for 5G networks as broadly categorised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to include Enhanced Mobile broadband (eMBB), Massive Machine-type Communications (mMTC), as well as Ultra-reliable and Low-latency Communications (uLLC)


“We will continue to collaborate with stakeholders across sectors to ensure faster deployment of 5G services, and accelerate the growth of Nigeria’s broadband infrastructure,” he said.


He identified some challenges in the deployment to include limited frequencies with the required spectral efficiency, skilled professionals with requisite knowledge of the technology, fewer 5G-enabled devices, and cost of deployment but stated that the industry must work to turn the challenges into opportunities rather than seeing them as obstacles. 

In the panel discussion on the presentation titled: “5G Networks: Opportunities and Challenges,” by Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Bako Wakil, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management of NCC, Adeleke Adewolu, who chaired the panel session, urged all participants to exploit the opportunities offered by the 90th TCP to contribute to the deployment of 5G Network in Nigeria.


“We must conclude this Telecom Consumer Parliament with solutions to challenges that are associated with 5G deployment in countries that had deployed the services ahead of Nigeria. We must also have a clear roadmap on how the opportunities offered by technology can be maximized for the benefit of Nigerians” Adewolu said.


MEANWHILE, at their meeting with Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, in Kigali, Rwanda, both the MTN Group Chairman, Mcebisi Jonas and President and Chief Executive Officer, Ralph Mupita assured on improving rural connectivity and deployment of the Fifth Generation (5G) network in the country.


Both Mcebisi and Mupita, also discuss developments in the telecoms sector in Nigeria, including the country’s progress in updating subscribers’ SIM registration records with national identification numbers (NINs).


In the meeting – held on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Thursday, Pantami informed that a total of almost 85 million NINs have been registered across the industry so far, adding that they will serve as the foundation of the country’s digital economy, which he noted was beginning to scale.


MTN in a statement said: “the talks also covered the development of 5G services in Nigeria and work to extend broadband connectivity to more people in rural areas. The Minister encouraged both MTN Group and MTN Nigeria to continue to invest in the sector and, in so doing, support the objectives of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025.”


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