The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said it is 97 per cent ready for the full implementation of the Fifth Generation (5G) technology deployment in Nigeria.
The NCC executive vice-chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, re-affirmed the status of the commission’s 5G technology deployment at the annual African Tech Alliance Forum (AfriTech 2021) with the theme ‘Embracing changes and digital transformation in the new normal,’ held in Lagos.
Presenting a paper ‘NCC as a digital transformation crusader and Nigeria’s in-road to 5G deployment,’ Danbatta stated that, following the advent of COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a change in the dynamics of people’s interaction, especially on the Internet. According to him, almost every means of communication has become virtual in one way or the other.
The NCC boss, however, stated that this paradigm shift in communication has led to a significant increase in network connectivity requirements as a result of a surge in Internet traffic, caused by the use of a plethora of web applications such as Zoom, Microsoft teams, WebEx, Goto, Webner etc. He said this has made remote work, virtual meetings, virtual studies and virtual healthcare delivery, among others, the new normal.
According to him, even though, the network infrastructure in Nigeria has demonstrated some capacity to contain the surge in internet traffic, a lot of 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.
The EVC said due to the network traffic demand, the NCC is working with operators to implement several initiatives to ensure network expansion. These, he said, include ongoing plans to auction spectrum in 3.5 gigahertz (Ghz) band to operators for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria.
“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 per cent ready for 5G. Today, as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97 per cent completion.
“The committee set up to auction the spectrum has already developed an information memorandum (IM) which is already published for inputs and comments from all industry stakeholders. Prior, a 5G deployment plan was developed and we have since secured the Federal Government’s approval,” he said.
Represented by the commission’s director, spectrum administration, Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, Danbatta said, this is in addition to a lot of other initiatives being put in place by the commission to improve broadband connectivity in Nigeria.
He cited the surge in the COVID-19-induced Internet traffic as a continuous challenge which the National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) and other arms of governments will deploy adequate resources – such as spectrum and other forms of support – to increase network resilience and accessibility to telecommunication services.
“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,” he assured.
Also in attendance were the NCC director, public affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, key industry stakeholders and others, who participated in the one-day forum, which also featured exhibitions by some sector players.