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NCC 97 percent ready to deploy 5G networks in Nigeria, says Danbatta

L-R: Mr. Tony Ojobo, President of African ICT Foundation; Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON); Olatomiwa Williams, Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria; Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, Director of Spectrum Administration, NCC; Mr. Femi Williams, CEO of NewWaves Ecosystem Limited; Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs at NCC; and Mr. Aaron Ukodie, Publisher eWorld Magazine at AfriTech 2021, in Lagos Photo: NCC

*Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, discloses the Commission is working with the stakeholders to ensure network expansion, and auction spectrum in 3.5 gigahertz (Ghz) band to telecoms operators for 5G deployment in the country

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Disclosing the regulator’s current effort at auctioning spectrum in 3.5 gigahertz (Ghz) band to telecoms operators, the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC) has said that its plan for Fifth Generation (5G) technology deployment in the West African country continues to gather momentum.

ConsumerConnect reports Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, has confirmed that the Commission’s readiness to begin full implementation in Nigeria is at 97 percent.

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Prof. Danbatta restated the status of the telecoms regulatory Commission’s 5G technology deployment at the annual African Tech Alliance Forum (AfriTech 2021) organised by Wednesday, October 13, 2021, in Lagos.

The overarching theme of this year’s edition of the Forum is: “Embracing Changes and Digital Transformation in the New Normal”.

The Commission, in a statement, noted Prof. Danbatta in his presentation on the topic, “NCC as a Digital Transformation Crusader and Nigeria’s in-Road to 5G Deployment,” disclosed that following the advent of COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a change in the dynamics of people’s interaction, especially on the Internet.

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Almost every means of communication has become virtual in one way or the other, said the NCC EVC/CEO.

Danbatta, represented on the occasion by Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, Director of Spectrum Administration at the Commission, however, stated that this paradigm shift in communication has led to significant increase in network connectivity requirements as a result of 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.

According to him, this development has made remote work, virtual meetings, virtual studies and virtual healthcare delivery, among others, the new normal.

The NCC Chief said though the network infrastructure in Nigeria has demonstrated some capacity to contain the surge in Internet traffic, much 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.

Following network traffic demand, the EVC/CEO stated that the NCC is working with operators to implement a number of initiatives to ensure network expansion.

These include the ongoing plan to auction spectrum in 3.5 gigahertz (Ghz) band to operators for the deployment of 5G network in the country, said he.

Danbatta further noted: “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 percent ready for 5G.

“Today as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97 percent completion.”

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He said: “The Committee set up to auction the Spectrum has already developed and 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.”

According to Danbatta, this is besides a lot of other initiatives being put in place by the Commission to improve Broadband connectivity in Nigeria.

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.

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“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,” Danbatta declared.

Also in attendance at AfriTech 2021, in Lagos, were Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs of NCC, and other key industry stakeholders who participated in the one-day Forum, which also featured exhibition by some sector players.

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