Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has officially gotten 5G 3.5GHz frequency Spectrum for deployment from the Federal Government.
The Federal Government on Thursday also made a public presentation of the National Policy on the Fifth Generation Networks for Nigeria’s Digital Economy, expected to guide the operations of all players in the sector.
Making the presentation at an event organized by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami said 5G networks offer major advantages over technologies that preceded it. The advantages include much lower latency, higher bandwidth, greater device density, longer battery life for nodes, and greater network flexibility.
Speaking of the journey to the current stage of the roll-out of 5G Networks, Pantami explained that the report of the 5G trials was critically reviewed with a view to studying the health and security implications of deploying 5G in Nigeria.
‘‘We found it safe and secure to deploy in Nigeria. Leading international organizations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an organ of the United Nations, have also confirmed that the deployment of 5G network has no adverse health effects and is safe. After the trials, we embarked on an extensive stakeholder engagement that included adequate public awareness and sensitization.’’
Enhancing Security with 5G
Listing other benefits of 5G, the Minister informed that the novel technology will provide very fast and reliable communication for the nation’s security personnel and allow them to swiftly access relevant data required to carry out their duties.
Also, he said the time required to access data for records such as vehicle registrations, background checks, etc can be reduced from hours to minutes, as 5G will allow for real-time, high quality and data-intensive surveillance of relevant areas using high definition cameras.
Transparency through 5G
In the area of transparency, he said emerging technologies like blockchain can significantly improve transparency in the delivery of government services at all levels. ‘‘The World Economic Forum attests to the potential of blockchain to increase the efficiency and fairness of government systems and, by extension, limit opportunities for corruption.
‘‘It can significantly improve transparency in procurement procedures, enhance land and registry systems, ensure that government documents are not accessed by unauthorised personnel, etc.’’
On what 5G can do to the economy, he quoted a February 2021 research by the Boston Consulting Group, which estimated that in the next 10 years, 5G deployment will contribute $1.4 trillion to $1.7 trillion to the GDP of the United States of America and create between 3.8 million to 4.6 million jobs.
Similarly, he quoted a 2017 report by the global research firm IHS Markit which predicted that by 2035, 5G will enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output, support 22 million jobs, and have a contribution to the real global GDP equivalent to an economy the size of India- then the 7th largest economy in the world.
On the National 5G Policy, the Minister explained that it was designed and formulated to achieve many goals: to ensure effective deployment of 5G to cover major urban areas by 2025; to ensure the security of the 5G ecosystem and the protection of data; to ensure that international best practices and globally accepted standards and specifications are entrenched in Nigeria’s 5G ecosystem; and to ensure that the required infrastructure needed for successful deployment of 5G networks such as data centres, power, etc, are catered for in deployment strategies of 5G networks.
For him, adopting 5G technologies and rolling out 5G networks will support the development of Nigeria’s digital economy and is expected to catalyze achieving the core objectives in the 3 focus areas of the Federal Government, namely the economy, security and transparency.
‘‘Following the successful auctioning of the 3.5GHz in Nigeria, Nigeria is set to start enjoying the economic benefits of deploying 5G Networks. With near real-time downloads and uploads, 5G will revolutionise every sector of the economy and accelerate digitization, enhance connectivity and ensure reliability. The different sectors of our economy can experience the positive effects of accelerated digitization that 5G networks can provide.
‘‘ 5G will enable farmers to optimize yield while reducing labour and other costs through the use of high-speed drones and the Internet of Things (IoT) that monitor field conditions in real-time and provide relevant feedback to the farmers. With 5G in healthcare, cost-saving options like remote personalized health monitoring, the ability to share data-intensive medical records securely and even perform remote surgeries is possible. Such was the case in April 2019, when a surgeon had a successful 3-hour operation on a patient with Parkinson’s disease located 3,000km away from the surgeon.
‘‘Our manufacturing sector can also experience benefits that come with the use of 5G technologies. According to a February 2021 report by Accenture, “5G-enabled factories can see up to 20-30% in overall productivity gains, including improvements of 50% in assembly time, 20% in asset life, and 90% in defect detection.”
In his remarks, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta thanked Minister for his supervisory role in seeing the realization of the objective of deploying the 5G network in Nigeria.
He promised that the Commission under his leadership would continue to follow due process in the allocation of the spectrum in line with best practice.
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, had on January 25th, 2022 unveiled and launched the National Policy. The Policy was also approved at the Federal Executive Council and the spectrum auctioning process was concluded in December 2021, in which MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications were declared winners of the two slots of the 3.5GHz spectrum auction for the Fifth Generation (5G) network licenses by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.
The bids ended at $273 million for each, according to Professor Umar Danbatta, executive vice-chairman, NCC and overseer of the auction.
The process for the development of the Policy was initiated in November 2019, when the 5G trials commenced and subsequently took place in a number of cities in the country.