September 13, 2021/CSL Research
Following the recently held Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting last week, the Federal Government announced the approval of the Fifth Generation Network (5G) deployment in the country. To kick-start the 5G network roll-out, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Ibrahim, directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to publish an implementation roadmap for the deployment of 5G across the country with service roll-out obligations. Leaving no doubt for health and safety concerns by many Nigerians, the commission is to develop relevant regulatory instruments to address health-related issues for the successful roll-out of 5G by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). The proposed roll-out will be done in phases, starting with major cities.
The advent of 5G technology has generated several concerns amongst people, with many conspiracy theories that continue to generate fear, especially with the coronavirus outbreak. In the wake of the pandemic, while some saw a direct correlation between the virus and the 5G network, many others allegedly viewed the network infrastructure as a threat to security and health. Despite these unfounded theories, many countries have successfully deployed the 5G technology, and many more countries are following suit. As of June 2021, over 55 countries had successfully deployed the 5G network from 44 as of May 2020, according to the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA).
Specifically, for Nigeria, adopting the 5G technology will improve network connectivity and user experience and further drive the country’s goal of becoming a digital economy. The emergence of the 5G era in the country presents many benefits for the country. However, we are concerned about the many challenges that will need to be surmounted for a successful deployment such as,
Poor Fiber Penetration: The coverage of optic fiber cable in Nigeria is poor, especially in most suburban and rural areas.
Device Challenges: The deployment of 5G technology will necessarily require the 5G devices, whose availability is limited and expensive.
Poor Electricity Supply: The higher density 5G network requires improved power supply due to the need for additional equipment and 5G sites or base stations necessary for high-density coverage. The country’s poor power supply, which has hindered network expansion into the rural areas will be a bottleneck to the successful deployment of the 5G network.
Cost of Deployment: With the continuous depreciation of the currency, the cost of deploying the necessary technology will be exorbitant. Telecommunication operators in the country depend on foreign vendors for their equipment. This indicates that procuring and deploying this technology at the current exchange rate will be at a very high cost, which may need to be transferred to the final consumers.