Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, the executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Thursday, said the 5G network which is billed to be deployed in 2022 will leverage the momentum already garnered by the 4G network.
Africa’s largest economy currently operates on the 4G network, alongside 3G and 2G, however, through efforts by the Commission and strategic partnership with stakeholders, the country plans to migrate to the fifth-generation network (5G) by year 2022.
Speaking virtually at the Stakeholders Engagement Forum organized by the regulator in Lagos, Professor Danbatta said the global impact of 4G technology brought about an increase in mobile usage and network performance.
He said the 5G technology will leverage on its momentum, bringing substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility, and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities.
The EVC said it was imperative to evolve to the next phase of global development of the sector, given the opportunities that abound for all stakeholders in the industry and the economy at large.
The sector has witnessed a major increase in competition driven by the government’s liberalization policies and the Commission’s robust implementation of its initiatives and policies over the years, which have stimulated the growth and development of the sector.
He reiterated that the Nigerian Communications market is one of the biggest in Africa and also the largest contributor to the Information and Communications Technology sector of the Nigerian economy.
“Nigeria has an estimated population of 214 million, with an average growth rate of 2.6% annually. Approximately 76.46% of the population is under the age of 35. In line with these demographic changes, Internet penetration grew from 3% in 2004 to 73.82% as of September 2021, and broadband penetration increased from less than 10% in 2015 to 40.01% in September 2021”.
However, in making sure that this growth is sustainable, the NCC had organized a Stakeholders Engagement Forum where several inputs were made from industry players on the licensing of the 3.5GMHz (mid band) for the deployment of 5G services in Nigeria.
Danbatta described the NCC as a world-class communications regulatory agency which believes that its actions must be guided by decisions that take into cognizance the inputs from all stakeholders in the industry.
He said the active participation of players enables novel use cases and applications that will positively impact different sectors of the economy and improve our efforts towards achieving the Digital Economy objectives of the Federal Government as contained in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS 2020-2030) and Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020 – 2025).
Speaking on the importance of deploying the 5G, the EVC said the network does not only offer enhanced broadband and ultra-reliable low latency communications, but it also provides massive machine-type communications, where lots of devices will seamlessly connect and interact independently with the Internet without human intervention. Thus, “enabling our Smart City Initiatives and making Broadband Use Cases a reality.”
The EVC said given the critical role of the spectrum, the International Telecommunications Union Radio Communication Sector (ITU-R) conducted studies in its last two study cycles during the World Radio Communication Conferences of 2015 and 2019 (WRC-15 & WRC-19) and identified Spectrum for 5G technology including the 3.5GHz band, which stands out due to its excellent propagation characteristics which offer both capacity and coverage.
He revealed that the Commission in line with its mandate as enshrined in the Nigerian Communication Act, 2003 and Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2021-2025, has committed enormous resources to ensure harmonized spectrum is secured and released promptly for present and future deployment of services that will underpin the fourth industrial revolution, including International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT-2020) services.
“We have kept ourselves abreast of developments at international fora, including ITU-R study groups to enable the allocation of strategic spectrum to IMT services especially IMT 2020 which has been in the front burner in the last two ITU-R study cycles.
“Through the collaborative efforts of the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) and Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), the Commission was able to secure the necessary 3.4 – 3.9GHz C-band for the deployment of 5G services in Nigeria.
He said the C-band is globally accepted as the candidate of choice for 5G deployment due to its excellent propagation characteristics.
TechEconomy reported earlier that Federal Government had taken steps to fully recover the 3.5GHz spectrum band (the lower C-band) from NIGCOMSAT and reallocated it to the NCC for auction.
The EVC commended the efforts by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isah Pantami for the role he played in ensuring the smooth allocation of spectrum to the NCC.
Danbatta said having put in efforts and resources to secure amongst others the contiguous spectrum in the 3.5GHz premium band with about 70% of 5G global deployment so far, that it has become imperative to immediately license the 3.5GHz band in Nigeria for the deployment of 5G services.
Additionally, he said Commission has developed a 5G policy plan and through the Pantami secured the approval of the deployment of 5G in Nigeria.
In addition, he revealed that the NCC had constituted a committee to auction some slots in the 3.5GHz band for the deployment of 5G services and also developed a draft Information Memorandum (IM) for the Auction of the 3.5GHz band.
“As you may be aware, we published the draft IM on our website to enable our stakeholders to make inputs and comments. We are to deliberate on those areas you think may need improvements. It is expected that at the end of this forum, we all shall be part of the future in the management and utilization of this resource in line with global best practices.
He reiterated that the Commission will continue to develop policies and guidelines in conjunction with Stakeholders to deliver better quality of experience for all.