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Nigeria mulls 5G direction as Huawei, ZTE ban sees $62b losses



The direction that will define Nigeria’s 5G transition, a fifth generation cellular network technology that provides broadband access, is currently been worked on, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has said.
The NCC disclosed this at the 10th edition of the eWorld Forum, in Lagos, where it pointed out that the country would do everything within its capacity to ensure Nigerians benefit immensely from the transition.
Last November, at a telecoms forum in Abuja, NCC announced that Nigeria will rollout 5G network by 2020.  
The Commission noted that while the country works to perfect 3G and 4G, “We shouldn’t be left behind, as other countries are already in tune with 5G. We must also make efforts to get ourselves ready for the next generation network.”
But at the eWorld forum organised by Ajomedia, NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof Umar Danbatta, said Nigeria cannot wait behind in the adoption of the technology until existing network operators acquire the capacity to deploy nationwide. “They can start gradually,” as in the case of 4G which has not been deployed across the country.
Represented by Deputy Director, Spectrum Administration, Oluwatoyin Asaju, he said the Commission has made provision for 5G, and was currently consulting with the industry on the pathway for its adoption.
He added that the regulator would soon be attending a meeting in Egypt, to discuss the 5G question and once it comes back from that meeting it would announce a way forward for Nigeria’s adoption of the technology.
Meanwhile, excluding China’s Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. from the next generation of mobile networks would lumber European phone companies with €55 billion ($62 billion) in extra costs, the wireless industry’s main lobby group said.
A global ban advocated by U.S. President Donald Trump, would also delay the rollout of the high-speed 5G networks by at least 18 months, and deprive the European Union of around €45 billion in productivity growth, according to a preliminary report drafted in April, by the GSMA trade association and seen by Bloomberg.
Further in Nigeria, the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, agreed with the NCC position. “I am an advocate of 5G. We need to talk about 5G now,” he stated.
Managing Director of XperTeam, Aremu Olajide, said the country needed 5G because it cannot stay behind, “but we (also) need to get what we already have to those who do not have yet.”
The template of the NCC, which provides a gradual adoption of 5G network is in line with the prevailing global practice. Several network operators in United States and Europe are begging with a gradual deployment of 5G around defined areas and communities.
The Commission’s revelation on the 5G quest came with a reaffirmed commitment to bridge the gap between existing and planned fibre infrastructure to increase broadband penetration in Nigeria.
The NCC also said it has set up strategy to ensure access to pervasive Broadband through an Open Access Model in line with the National Broadband Plan.
Danbatta noted that this is in line with the commission’s continued doggedness in ensuring that the lacuna between the existing and planned fibre infrastructure in Nigeria is narrowed.
The Commission has also continued to make available wireless Spectrum resources to the operators, as well as creating enabling environment and level playing field through various regulatory instruments, for the growth and development of the industry, and the overall impact on the socio-economic well-being of our nation. Some of these resources cover capacity and coverage spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band and re-farming of part of the 1800 MHz and re-planning of the 800 MHz bands.
The GSMA report noted that the need to replace network equipment and the capacity constraints on the remaining mobile equipment vendors would disrupt current rollout plans.
“Such a delay would widen the gap in 5G penetration between the EU and the U.S. by more than 15 percentage points by 2025,” it noted.
U.S. efforts to isolate the Chinese vendors amid a trade conflict with Beijing have thrown the global telecom industry’s network upgrade plans into confusion as Huawei is one of the biggest suppliers of the core infrastructure and radio access equipment and the second-largest producer of smartphones behind Samsung Electronics Co.

Some U.S. allies have already followed Washington’s lead in excluding Huawei, heeding warnings that its equipment is vulnerable to hacking and espionage by the Chinese state.

Outright bans on Huawei appear unlikely in Europe, the region it relies on most for growth outside China, after Germany, France and Britain signalled more limited restrictions and tightened oversight of their networks.
The GSMA report was written before President Trump opened a new front against the Shenzhen-based vendor last month by restricting its access to Google’s Android operating system for its 5G smartphones, potentially disrupting their ability to function or access popular apps.
“We continue to stress that it is imperative that the market has the widest possible choice of equipment, technology and partners, to drive, scale innovation and competition,” GSMA said.

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