MTN has announced plans to introduce the Fifth Generation (5G) technology to Nigeria to make businesses more efficient and enable consumers to have access to more information at very high data transfer speeds.
At a tech platform hosted by The Guardian, Mohammed Rufai, the Chief Technical Officer of MTN Nigeria said that although the plans are already in place, the decision largely depends on the rules and timelines of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC). The NCC is to issue spectrum and licences which costs N75 billion. Rufai however did not reveal if MTN has paid the sum or not.
“Having said that, we are excited about the opportunities that 5G represents, and eager to participate in the licensing process. The speed and latency that 5G technology offers users is very impressive, and opens up a wealth of possibilities to leverage the Internet of Things and digital services in general,” Rufai said.
According to Rufai, in 2019, MTN already did a demo on the capabilities of the 5G network to some of its customers and stakeholders during several workshops with the federal government in Abuja, Lagos and Calabar.
Recall that on September 8, Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, announced that the government had approved the introduction of 5G at the Federal Executive Council meeting.
The plan is for 5G to come alive in major cities first because of the many businesses who need high quality broadband. Afterwards, it can be introduced to rural areas.
GSMA’s Concern About 5G Adoption in Africa
In July 2020, MTN launched 5G in South Africa. It was the first African country to introduce 5G before Kenya followed suit this April.
Currently 18 African countries including Lesotho, Gabon and Egypt, have started considering the use of 5G. Comparing the outcome in the countries that have launched, the GSMA opined that 5G adoption in sub-Saharan Africa is unavoidable but not imminent.
According to the GSMA, in the next few years, 5G would have been adopted in several fits and spurts in Africa since existing technologies are capable of supporting current use cases and demand for mobile internet connectivity.
However, one of the biggest concerns that can hinder the mass adoption of 5G is low mass penetration of previous cellular generations. It’s been barely two years since 3G and 4G networks overtook 2G.
Another concern raised by the GSMA was coverage. A quarter of Africa’s population aren’t covered by a mobile broadband signal, and the half that are do not use the internet. A 13% usage gap was recorded between 2014-2019 due to epileptic growth in newly covered areas.