The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that it is now 97 per cent ready for the full implementation of the country's 5G policy. The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, re-affirmed the status of the Commission’s 5G technology deployment at the annual African Tech Alliance Forum (AfriTech 2021) held in Lagos with the overarching theme: “Embracing Changes and Digital Transformation in the New Normal.”
Focusing his presentation on “NCC as a Digital Transformation Crusader and Nigeria’s in-Road to 5G Deployment,” Danbatta stated that, following the advent of COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a change in the dynamics of people’s interaction, especially on the Internet. According to him, almost every means of communication has become virtual in one way or the other.
Danbatta, however, stated that this paradigm shift in communication has led to significant increase in network connectivity requirements as a result of an unprecedented upsurge in Internet traffic, occasioned by the use of a plethora of web applications such as Zoom, Microsoft teams, WebEx, Goto, Webner and so on. He said this has made remote work, virtual meetings, virtual studies and virtual healthcare delivery, among others, the new normal.
According to Danbatta, even though, the network infrastructure in Nigeria has demonstrated some capacity to contain the surge in internet traffic, a lot of work is being done by the Commission 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, the EVC said the NCC is working with operators to implement a number of initiatives to ensure network expansion. These, he said, include ongoing plan 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.
“Already, we are set for the auction some spectrum slots in 3.5GHz band. The other day I was at the National assembly, I informed the senate that we were 95 per cent ready for 5G. Today as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97 per cent completion,” Danbatta said.
“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,” he said.
He said this is in addition to a lot of other initiatives being put in place by the Commission to improve broadband connectivity in Nigeria, adding that the surge in Internet traffic 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.
“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 enhance user experience through effective regulation of the telecoms sector,” the EVC said.
The EVC was represented at the event by Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, Director, Spectrum Administration. Also in attendance was The Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde.
Other key industry stakeholders participated at the one-day Forum, which also featured exhibition by some sector players.