Buhari puts 4G coverage at 30%, sees prospects in digitisation
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that there is an economic prospect for digitization, as this remains the future of economies globally.
Buhari in his June 12 Democracy Day speech, said that digital economy continues to play an important role in the country’s development agenda, “as we move into the age of Artificial Intelligence.”
The President noted that since the creation of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy has been launched, which has helped in many ways.
Buhari said steps have also been taken to achieve a reduction of connectivity cluster gaps from 207 to 114 as well as increase the level of 4G coverage by 30 per cent.
He called for more concerted efforts in the country to be able to achieve more.
Reacting to the president’s speech on 4G, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, said the information provided is more or less correct.
However, Teniola said the statistics didn’t also highlight the gaps in coverage, and hence there is still an over-reliance on 3G and 2.5G technology for majority of mobile Internet users.
According to him, infrastructure gap has been identified in the Nigerian Broadband Plan 2020-25, and “until we build our networks to handle pure 4G and higher-speed networks, it will be a struggle to achieve the user experience that consumers seek to carry out their various activities when we rely on just mobile networks to perform all e-services. Congestion on all our networks requires increases in network capacities across all networks (both fixed and mobile) alongside the requisite investments to achieve a QoS that is sustainable with increased changes in network traffic and types of content being accessed on a regular basis by the consumer.”
At a virtual forum in May, the Head of GSMA, Africa, Akinwale Goodluck, Goodluck noted that network coverage remains a challenge but one that has mitigated. “Some 750 million people live outside of a viable 3G or 4G signals but this was 1.8 billion only five years ago. Organic expansion and network sharing have extended mobile coverage to rural locales.”
He, however, said the bigger obstacle is relevance and understanding how to use the mobile Internet. According to him, GSMA quantifies these barriers under ‘usage gap’.
Goodluck informed that the next billion are the mobile-only generation. He said most of the growing base of mobile Internet users (largely from the fast-growing markets) are mobile-only with no PC access, meaning that a huge expansion of the app and digital content economy to non-English speaking markets.
Streaming, according to him, is at the forefront of this trend, with Netflix’s recent launch of a stripped-back, mobile-only tariff in India as a sign of things to come.
He said the next billion users will be powered by rising smartphone penetration. Goodluck disclosed that smartphone penetration has reached 65 per cent worldwide, reflecting failing device costs and cellular data prices.
According to him, the upward trend will continue as Android manufacturers permeate the legacy 2G and 3G base.
“By 2025, we expect adoption to reach 80 per cent. Most smartphones will run on LTE, with the 1.5 billion 5G smartphones clustered in early-adopter countries, of which the US and China are the biggest,” he stated.