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How to make 5G service work in Nigeria, by experts

By Adeyemi Adepetun
13 December 2018   |   4:25 am
The quest by Nigeria to roll-out 5G network by 2020 can only materialise if certain infrastructural gaps are bridged, experts in the ICT industry have said.Technology experts, who spoke with The Guardian...

The President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola.

•Network to add $565b to global GDP

The quest by Nigeria to roll-out 5G network by 2020 can only materialise if certain infrastructural gaps are bridged, experts in the ICT industry have said.Technology experts, who spoke with The Guardian, acknowledged that Nigeria cannot be left behind in the new revolution, having failed to benefit adequately in the second and third industrial revolution.

The experts cautioned that except policies are in place, infrastructures are upgraded, demands rise and government shows commitment and readiness to run a digital economy, the plan may wobble.

Already, the Global System for Mobile telecommunications Association (GSMA) has revealed that unlocking the right spectrum for the mobile industry to deliver innovative 5G services across different sectors could add $565 billion to global GDP and $152 billion in tax revenue from 2020 to 2034.The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said the country will roll-out 5G network through the 2.6GHz, 3.8GHz and 4.2GHz spectrum bands in 13 months time.

Speaking with The Guardian, the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, said the country can find test beds and experimental 5G limited networks. Teniola said expectations that many areas of Nigeria will suddenly have deployments of 5G networks with usable demand cases is not feasible until the country has sorted the fiber network deployments to the many towers hosting base transceiver stations (BTSs) that may have been upgraded to 5G.

He stressed that the success case of 5G is dependent on available devices and phones, adding that if one uses 4G as a benchmark, it will be apparent that 4G hasn’t really reached its full potential as expected in Nigeria.From his perspective, the Director-General, Delta State Innovation Hub (DSHUB), Chris Uwaje, noted that the national ICT infrastructure has come a long way, jumping from one inconclusive road-map to another without exhausting the life-time span expectancy and benefits of the one at hand.

According to him, many years ago, when Nigeria jumped to 3G, India was still implementing 2G while understudying their next steps. “I will say uninterrupted power supply and alternate power; mandatory nation-wide optic fibre infrastructure deployment and software development and engineering capacity building should be the country’s top-most priority.”

Uwaje, who said research, has shown that there is a critical flaw in the rollout of 4G worldwide, because it concentrated on content (data) without voice, which is what 5G is attempting to rectify.

“Without effectively implementing the broadband road-map with mandatory migration to IPv6, technology will only increase the deployment costs exponentially.”

Meanwhile, GSMA has noted that next-generation 5G services will improve access to healthcare, education and mobility whilst reducing pollution and increasing safety. However, the association said these outcomes rely on government support for the identification of sufficient millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum for the mobile industry at the next ITU World Radiocommunication Conference in 2019 (WRC-19).

GSMA report, titled, “Socio-Economic Benefits of 5G Services provided in mmWave Bands”, is the first to examine and quantify the impact of mmWave spectrum on the overall contribution of 5G networks to society.

It noted that mmWave spectrum will carry the highest capacity 5G services. It has the ideal characteristics to support very high data transfer rates and ultra-reliable, low latency capabilities, which will support new use cases and deliver the benefits of 5G to consumers and businesses around the world.

Head of Spectrum, GSMA, Brett Tarnutzer, said the global mobile ecosystem knows how to make spectrum work to deliver a better future.“Mobile operators have a history of maximising the impact of our spectrum resources and no one else has done more to transform spectrum allocations into services that are changing people’s lives. Planning spectrum is essential to enable the highest 5G performance and government backing for mmWave mobile spectrum at WRC-19 will unlock the greatest value from 5G deployments for their citizens,” he stated.