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NCC EVC unveils 5-year agenda, urges licensees to expand and maximise 5G networks

Dr. Aminu Maida, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of NCC

*Dr. Aminu Maida, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission, unveils his five-year agenda, urging the licensed Mobile Network Operators to expand the deployment of 5G services and maximise the new technology in the country

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

As his leadership steadies to move the foremost sector regulator forward, Dr. Aminu Maida, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has assured the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and licensed Fifth Generation (5G) Networks Telcos of his focus on addressing issues limiting the expansion of telecoms services in the country’s digital ecosystem.

ConsumerConnect reports Dr. Maida, who stated this while unveiling his agenda for the sector for the next five years at a recent forum in Lagos, said the 5G Technology has only reached about 30 cities in Nigeria.

It is recalled the NCC, in 2022, had awarded 5G networks licences to three MNOs, including MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, Mafab Communications Limited and Airtel Networks, to provide 5G services to Nigerian telecoms consumers.

The EVC/CEO of the Commission also assured the stakeholders of further network expansion, as he urged the licensees to roll out 5G services in more cities in the West African country.

The Commission, in the last updated subscription statistics August 2023, had estimated 5G subscriptions in the country at 0.83 percent penetration with some 500,000 people enjoying the services at the time.

According to Maida, during his tenure, issues limiting the expansion of telecoms services would receive utmost attention.

He further stressed the need for improved telephony services in the telecoms ecosystem in Nigeria.

EVC/CEO’s remarks on Nigeria’s adopting 6G networks

In connection with the readiness or otherwise of Nigeria to adopt and deploy the Sixth-Generation (6G) networks, Maida stated: “On every level of technology, Nigeria won’t be left behind.

“We are yet to maximise the benefits of 5G. We are still at the earliest stage of that.

“But we can’t be left behind by other countries, as the world progresses, we also progress.

“We still need to leverage 5G before we can talk of adopting 6G.”

Also speaking at the forum in Lagos, Engr. Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Standard at NCC, said: “Nigeria is still grappling with 5G. I can say that the network is still in less than 30 cities in the country. So, we still have a long way to go.

“But we have strategies to deploy the service in Nigeria. 4G LTE has not even covered the entire country.”

Masks also stated: “So, before we talk of 5G, 6G, let’s maximise 4G to the full. When the spectrum for 6G becomes available globally, we shall deploy as fast as possible.”

A recent published report indicated that 2G still dominates network usage in the country, with 60.47 percent penetration.

3G penetration was put at 9.57 percent, while 4G technology covered 29.13 percent population penetration as of August 2023.

Likewise, since the official launch of 5G technology in Nigeria, the three licensees, MTN Nigeria, Mafab Communications  Limited and Airtel Networks, have pushed for more 5G penetrations in the country, according to report.

While Airtel claims to be in Lagos, Ogun, Port Harcourt and Abuja, MTN is in over 15 cities across the country.

Mafab claims to be in Lagos and Abuja, and it is currently planning expansion.

Still, more investments in 5G networks are expected to bring operators a 32 per cent revenue jump, which could fetch them $400 billion by the end of 2024.

The Guardian also referenced a study by Juniper Research, which disclosed this development, noted that as consumer 5G penetration rates become saturated, it will be ‘imperative’ for operators to launch 5G services geared towards enterprise IoT users – specifically 5G Advanced and 5G RedCap (Reduced Capacity).

The report described 5G Advanced as ‘a development of the next evolutionary stage of 5G’ and said it will unlock new opportunities for operators and strengthen 5G support for XR, VR and AR applications, while AI and machine learning will be a key to improving network performance.

Already, the United Nations arm in charge of global communications, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), has disclosed that the 5G network has reached 40 percent of the eight billion global populations since its launch in 2019.

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