New Telegraph

5G: Nigerians eager for new network rollout

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In a few weeks time, Nigeria may be witnessing the beginning of another revolution as the two telecommunications companies that won the 3.5gigahertz(GHz) spectrum auction for the deployment of 5G technology, MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications, are expected to roll out the service this month. Nigerian mobile and internet subscribers’ eagerness to witness a new, faster network has continued to be high. This is evident in the rate at which they purchase 5G enabled phones as gathered by New Telegraph. Though some of the sales representatives at Computer Village and other phone shops visited by our correspondent could not give the precise statistics of the number of phones sold, they attested to the fact that demand for 5G phones had kept increasing. The launching of the new network has been slated for August 24, this year.

MTN, specifically, has assured of its 5G launch in this third quarter with high anticipation that it could happen this month of August. With 5G, subscribers get a whole new experience of internet speed, even as the technology is expected to unlock new opportunities in all areas of the nation’s economy. Interestingly, one major challenge that industry experts had anticipated could be the bane of 5G usage in Nigeria, even availability of 5G phones, is already being addressed even before the rollout of the technology. As of today, there are many 5G phones that have been launched into the Nigerian market.

Mobile subscribers have been greeting the new 5G phone in preparation to experience the new network first hand in the country. It was anticipated that many Nigerians might not be able to afford the 5G phone as industry analysts said this constituted an obstacle for many who may wish to change their phones to enjoy the latest technology. However, there are some 5G phones that are already available in Nigeria, which are affordable by average Nigerians. A market survey by New Telegraph revealed that there were already over 15 brands of phones with 5G features in the Nigerian market with the price as low as N71,000. Some of the phones were launched last year, while others were recently launched in Nigeria. The global 5G Smartphone Market size is expected to grow by 122.7 per cent from 2020 to 2027. The demand for 5G smartphones in 2019 was 12.42 million units.

However, the market saw a precipitous decline in the average selling price during Q1 of 2020 due to the COVID-19 as one of the major reasons and the price fall continued during Q2-2020. 5G Smartphone are devices that support the fifth generation of mobile networking. 5G technology is being increasingly commercialised in different parts of the world, with China leading the race. Theoretically, 5G is said to be 100 times faster than its predecessor, with estimated speed up to 10 Gbps. Smartphones require 5G compatible sensors and receivers to support the additional speeds. The increasing demand for high speed internet for both small and large sized businesses and individuals for buffer-free streaming and the prominence of over the top (OTT) services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, etc. are the prominent factors responsible for this prolific growth.

On-demand content is being increasingly preferred by the younger generation, and the advent of 5G Smartphone will provide them with a tool for viewing high quality content on the go. High speed internet is required for providing a hassle-free streaming experience. Furthermore, with the growth of both residential and industrial IoT, smartphones will play the role of a personalised authentication device for enhanced security purposes. Collaboration between the smartphone manufacturers, chipset providers and telecommunication providers will help in the acceleration of commercial 5G services. Furthermore, government bodies around the globe are mulling over regulations pertaining to the user of 5G spectrum to speed up the adoption of 5G. In China, for instance, government has drastically reduced licensing costs to speed up the rolling out of 5G services.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on the other hand, has amended the rules that govern equipment modification. New hardware can be installed on the existing poles to bring down the capital costs and speedup the deployment of 5G. Since 5G will be build mainly on the existing 4G infrastructure, the stakeholders will need to provide fool-proof strategies to ensure that the networks are capable of handling the additional data speed and connected devices. Meanwhile, it is not yet certain whether Nigeria will meet up with the scheduled rollout date of the 5G slated for August 24, this year, as there has not been any official report from the two licensed companies on their readiness to launch the technology this month. A source from Mafab Communications Limited said the scheduled date for the rollout may not be possible due to some challenges the company is trying to fix.

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