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EDITORIAL: Need to reassess quality of 4G LTE deployment in Abuja

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4G LTE deployment
Computer professionals from different parts of Nigeria gathered on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th June, 2019 at the Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja for their yearly ritual dubbed ‘Information Technology Assembly’.

Discussions during the IT Assembly organized by the Computer Professionals (Registration Council) of Nigeria (CPN), centered on ‘Digital Infrastructure: Defining the Next Step’.

To say that the theme was apt will be an understatement. Digital infrastructure is a reality that stands behind the digital transformation of any serious economies and businesses today or what is now referred to as Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

It comprises of fundamental services that are imperative for the ICT capabilities of a nation like Nigeria. In other words, digital infrastructure is necessary to the economy and quality of a modern nation.

Examples of digital infrastructure transforming businesses and national economies today include internet backbone, fixed broadband, mobile telecommunications, communications satellite network infrastructure, data centres cloud computing, software platforms, operating systems, applications, APIs and integration, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and of course, the Internet of Things (IoTs).

At this point, let’s pulse to ponder over the quality of LTE deployment in Abuja hence internet backbone or broadband is at the center of Digital Infrastructure Nigeria must not overlook.

We feel there is urgent need for the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC’s) monitoring and enforcement department/unit to quickly reassess the quality of fourth generation technology deployment by the telecommunication network operators and other factors that work against quality of service like deployment of Radio Jammers in some public places.

This is imperative because during the two days we were in Abuja it was really hellish and random interviews confirmed that some areas in Abuja are not having it easy with regards broadband connectivity.

Almost, all the major network operators have launched 4G LTE in the Federal Capital Territory. So, why the drop calls, inability to send SMS or access the internet? Why?

If not for the intervention of the ipNX many people wouldn’t have accessed the internet as MTN, 9mobile, networks were the worst hit. Airtel and Globacom were at snail speed too.

Enextgen Wireless report

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If you consider the findings of a report by Enextgen Wireless in November 2018, then there is clearly a need to evaluate the situation.

Enextgen focuses on evaluating the quality of RF deployment of LTE networks in selected markets in Nigeria.

There is no direct comparison between Enextgen’s activities and those of other performance monitoring companies.

Its activities are specifically tailored to the unique issues of the Nigerian market.

One such issue is the unique ease with which companies can take advantage of the public.

Its efforts since 2016 clearly document this for the quality of LTE deployment in Nigeria.

In the report made available to TechEconomy.ng, Enextgen states: “We conduct each of our tests by paying for LTE data subscription. The results of our tests reveal that in many cases little to no attempts have been made by many of the service providers to properly engineer their network before making them available for commercial use.

In other words, untested products that cannot provide the advertised services are being dumped on the public, in many cases.

In this report, the company provided a summary of its findings from data collection effort in Abuja that was performed in November of 2018.

4G LTE

Source: Enextgen Wireless report, 2018

“These results speak for themselves. They seem to show very clearly that only two service providers – MTN and Airtel – appeared to have performed adequate pre-deployment testing before going commercial”.

Details from the data for Abuja and other markets that they have evaluated are available HERE. So, you can visit the platform for extensive reports on the quality of LTE deployments in Nigeria.

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Meanwhile, we are not unaware of multifaceted challenges faced by telecoms in deploying telecom infrastructure in the FCT as the masterplan which is over 55 years, did not envisage the technological evolution like we have seen today.

Also, the Kogi State Government, late last year came all out against some telecom operators. MTN was the most affected. We understand that Kogi is vital to deployment of telecommunication services to some parts of FCT. In other words, it serves as hub for base stations.

On the flip side, some hotels, and business centres have the habit of installing Radio Jammers which is quite inhibitive to network availability and connectivity. The industry regulator had warned about ‘the deployment of Radio (Frequency) Jammers.

Though, the hotels and other business centres play under the security situation in the country, but they go ahead to offer their facility users ‘free-WiFi’ connections. Such public Wifi connections can easily be compromised too.

NCC should look into this!

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