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Nigeria’s tortuous march to 5G service

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Since the licensing of Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) in Nigeria, we have experienced upgrade from 2G to 3G then 4G and now looking to 5G.

It is a standard approach globally for regulatory authorities not to regulate technology rather encourage its advancement, against this backdrop that telecommunications operators kept adopting the latest technologies aimed at enhancing service provisions.

Since the licensing of Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) in Nigeria, we have experienced upgrade from 2G to 3G then 4G and now looking to 5G.

These upgrades come with investments in either switches, base transceiver stations among others.

Nigeria operators have had its peculiar experience in upgrading to new technology occasioned by the operating environment as well as compactable devices for the latest technology.

Today, not many of GSM subscribers are enjoying the 4G service that 5G is coming seen as the technology of the future as it powers machine to machine communications, IoT among others.

According to Oladipo Raji, President/CEO, InfraFocus Technologies, “deploying 5G is different, it is not like upgrading from 3G to 4G. For any operator to provide 5G service such will have to invest in infrastructure, change substantial equipment at base stations.

“5G is the power to the edge and to that extent it is expensive to deploy the service.”

Corroborating Raji on deploying of 5G is a different ball game, Engr. Olusola Teniola, managing director, Phase 3 Telecoms, said: “Deploying 5G services is a totally different experience entirely.

“The new paradigm is based on network slicing configured alongside the use cases that the network aims to enable. For instance, the provisioning of a robotic application or service will be different from augmented reality even though both services will be executing multiple use cases at any one instance.

“5G will also bring NFV/SDN to the fore as end-users will now have the ability to tweak a number of parameters at the end that will demand different QoS, CoS, Customer Experience and data usage from the network in real-time.

“The underlying differentiation is both in the RAN and edge of the network where the focus and underlying assumption is for a very high-speed end-to-end connection.

4G is a stepping stone to 5G. 5G will be a stepping stone to 6G in the future,” he said.

On the peculiarity of the Nigerian environment on deploying the technology, he said that the actual deployment of RAN and accompanying 5G equipment is relatively straightforward.

“The complexity lies in how the operators will derive value from the power of 5G when the full power of 4G is yet to be realised. Without the sophisticated demands being present over and above entertainment or infotainment, it is hard to find a valid mass-market use case that will be deployed to provide IoTs at an affordable price and a productivity use case that is unique to the Nigerian experience.

“If the evidence to date suggests that the fundamental building blocks such as ubiquitous broadband on the back of high-speed fiber/wireless are yet to be achieved, then until these are solved, 5G will be experimental at best in Nigeria until 2026,” he added.


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