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Nigeria eyes 5G deployment via new satellite to boost nation’s coverage

By Adeyemi Adepetun
18 November 2022   |   3:59 am
Nigeria is hopeful of combining satellite and fibre infrastructure to ensure improved Fifth-Generation (5G) network coverage in the country.

• NigComSat 2 to be deployed soon

Nigeria is hopeful of combining satellite and fibre infrastructure to ensure improved Fifth-Generation (5G) network coverage in the country.

Nigeria Communications Satellite (NigComSat), which revealed this, yesterday, said it hoped to help deepen 5G in the country with its latest satellite, NigComSat 2, which will be deployed soon.

The agency made this known during a Stakeholders Engagement Forum, themed: ‘NigComSat: The Roadmap for Enhanced Service Delivery’. The organisation is already building and commissioning the satellite, in collaboration with its Chinese partner, Great China Wall.

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NigComSat, Abimbola Alale, said the aim of the forum was to get feedback from stakeholders and seek collaboration.

“As players within the industry, we are bound by common goals and interests. We must, therefore, view the stakeholders’ meeting as crucial to the industry’s growth,” Alale said.

The event could witness collaboration between fibre operators and satellites. While MTN has launched 5G in the country and eyes are on Mafab Communications to do the same in January 2023, stakeholders acknowledged that coverage might be a challenge, given there are regions where fibre cannot reach, thereby requiring complementary infrastructure, like satellite.

President of the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators in Nigeria (ALTON), Adebayo Gbenga, said the challenge with fibre infrastructure is high incidents of vandalism.

He said there were over 40,000 fibre cuts in 2021 alone. Some of the common causes of the cuts include construction activities, like roads, railway and houses, vandalism, and fire incidents.

While Gbenga believes satellite holds potential to deepen the spread of 5G, which, he said hasn’t moved at expected pace, there is the cost factor of satellite deployment, which, in many respects, may be prohibitive for operators.

Deputy General Manager, Satellite Control and Operation, NigComSat, Orjinta Anthony Emeka, said the cost barrier may no longer be an obstacle, given recent developments in the satellite industry, which have seen convergence with other telecoms infrastructure. Hence, the world is currently at a point where the cost of satellite deployment is at par with fibre infrastructure.

Technical Director, Crystalfix Nigeria Limited, Adeola Ogundele, stressed the need for government to increase investment in satellite Internet technology to accelerate digital inclusion across the country.

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