The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that the 5G technology will be deployed in Nigeria to run alongside other existing technologies. This, the Commission said, would allow the consumers to select their preferred service.
The Director of Technical Standards and Network Integrity (DTSNI) at NCC, Engr. Bako Wakil, who disclosed this during the quarterly meeting of the Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) held in Lagos, said the Commission had chosen the 3.5GHz spectrum band for 5G deployment in Nigeria because it allows other technologies to run concurrently. “We are not going to have a complete 5G network in Nigeria, the technology will work alongside 4G, 3G, and 2G,” he said.
Corroborating the regulator, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, noted that subscribers who may not be able to afford 5G service will be able to continue using the current 4G and 3G services. According to him, just as the arrival of 4G did not end 3G and 2G, the launch of 5G in Nigeria will also not end other technologies. “The consumer will have the freedom to choose any technology they want as all will be running side-by-side,” he said.
Nnamani, however, called for a reduction in the cost of the spectrum which is to be issued by the NCC for the service. According to him, a reduced spectrum cost would help the operators to deliver 5G service to the subscribers at affordable cost.
While acknowledging that 5G deployment is far more capital intensive than 4G and other lower technologies, he said Nigerian Senate had during a recent public hearing on the technology expressed concern that the operators might pass the cost to the subscribers. “There is no doubt that the operators are going to spend a lot of money to deploy 5G and they will have to recoup their investments from the service. The only way the cost can be lowered for the subscriber is for the telecom regulator to make the 5G spectrum cost as low as possible,” he said.
The NCC had recently inaugurated a committee to develop the Information Memorandum (IM) for the auction of 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum band which will be used for early deployment of 5G services in the country.
Speaking during the inauguration, Danbatta said, apart from developing the IM for auctioning of C-band spectrum for 5G deployment in Nigeria, the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the committee will include the development of an award process to be used pursuant to which the grant of Spectrum licenses may be made. The Information Memorandum (IM) defines the process that the Commission has decided to adopt for the auctioning of the 3.5GHz spectrum band. It will provide information on the Nigerian telecommunications market, details of the Spectrum to be made available, the pre-qualification process, the Auction process, and an indicative timetable.
While expressing delight at the current stage of 5G deployment process in Nigeria, especially with respect to established mutual understanding among stakeholders that 5G service poses neither security nor health risk to users, Danbatta said the outcome of the work of the Committee is a major step towards realisation of 5G services in Nigeria.
According to him, the NCC, in line with its mandate, has committed enormous resources to ensure harmonised spectrum is secured and released in a timely manner for present and future deployment of services that will underpin the fourth industrial revolution, including International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT-2020) services.