Reactions from telecoms operators are trailing recent developments marked by federal government’s approval of 5G plan for the commercial roll out of fifth generation internet network (5G) in Nigeria.
Following the approval on Wednesday, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed that the Frequency Management Council (NFMC), chaired by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, will, in no distant time, release the 5G Spectrum.
Once this is done, the NCC, Nigeria’s telecoms regulator, can auction the spectrum to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) that will need the spectrum for 5G deployment.
Ahead of the release of the spectrum for auctioning, Isa Pantami, the communication minister has directed the NCC to commence immediate implementation of the 5G plan for the country.
As such, the minister further hinted that the roll-out of the 5G will be carried out in phases beginning with major cities in the country where there is need for high quality broadband.
Earlier, the foremost telecoms regulator had disclosed that interested operators would pay between N75 billion and N100 billion to acquire the spectrum to roll out 5G in the country.
“The asking price for a slot of 5G spectrum will start from N75 billion and will likely go to N100 billion after the auction process,’ Umar Danbatta, the executive vice chairman of the NCC had said.
Reacting to the development in a response to questions from Business Metrics, Ikechukwu Nnamani, President of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCO), said to get the 5G network up and running in the country will require more than just the spectrum fee by operators.
According to him, the potential bidders for the spectrum will decide if the cost of spectrum is in line with their profitability targets.
“The cost of spectrum is one component of the total cost of implementation of the services and a decision will be made if it is financially viable to run the service before each potential operator bids for it,” Nnamani said.
Asked if current economic realities in the country support business case for the huge investments required to implement 5G network, the ATCON president answered in affirmative.
He stressed that “the services enabled by 5G is an integral part of the Digital Economy. It will enhance all sectors of the economy. From commerce, education, entertainment, security, agriculture, healthcare, etc; and all will be positively impacted by the introduction of 5G in Nigeria.”
As regards balancing of investments between 5G and lower internet service categories including 2G, 3G and 4G, Nnamani assured that these networks will continue to exist and be improved on.
He however said users in one geographical location will be restrained to use the technology available in their area and depending on the services they want to have access to. “It will also depend on affordability,” he added.
Meanwhile, to further drive the implementation momentum, the NCC has promised to publish an implementation roadmap for the deployment of 5G across the country with service roll-out obligations.
The NCC described the recent approval of the 5G Plan as a major boost to Nigeria’s promising 5G Plan.
The plan, the telecoms regulator said, has the objectives of ensuring efficient assignment of spectrum for 5G deployment, creating an enabling environment for investment in the telecom industry, ensuring effective deployment of 5G to cover major urban cities by 2025, among others.
In line with the objectives of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 for a Digital Nigeria, and the positioning of Nigeria as an early adopter of digital technology in the growing global digital economy, industry observers have reiterated that the successful and timely deployment of 5G is crucial.
They argue that 5G is expected to facilitate several emerging technologies, generate innovative use cases, spur significant socio-economic growth and create jobs.
To realise these many promises of 5G, President Nnanmani warned, will not come on a platter of gold but with certain preliminary actions to pave a smooth way for successful deployment of the world’s fastest internet technology in Nigeria.
“Since the foundational infrastructure needed for 5G is not fully in place (national fiber backbone) it is important that the various government agencies including state governments see this as a service that will improve the quality of lives of their citizens so issues of multiple taxation must be tackled,” he said.