Nigeria 5G

Nigeria dispels “mischievous statements” on 5G

12 May 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has warned of “mischievous statements” being shared on social media, which claim the country is to switch on its 5G network this week.

According to NCC, rumours on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites, claimed Lagos would be connected to the country’s new 5G network over last weekend or this week.

In a statement attributed to director of public affairs Henry Nkemadu, the NCC said: “The statement from these faceless individuals or groups cannot be further from the truth. The Commission has unequivocally stated that there is no deployment of 5G in Nigeria at the moment. The NCC back in November 2019 approved trial test for 5G for a period of three months and that the trial has been concluded and installation decommissioned.”

NCC also took the opportunity to remind people that 5G is not linked to Covid-19 or other health conditions; that trails to test security had been concluded; and that no bulk frequency spectrum had been released for 5G deployment.

The letter also carried a quote from professor Umar Garba Danbatta, NCC executive vice chairman.

He said: “As the telecoms regulator, we enjoin Nigerians to get accurate information from us rather than relying on information emanating on social media by some individuals out of ignorance to misinform our people.”

The statement followed a similar announcement on 4 April, that time issued by Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim, minister of communications and digital economy.

In a letter he wrote: “Government will not act on the speculations only, but rather we will take an informed decision on 5G after due consultation with experts and the public. I have also directed the NCC to engage citizens on any questions or concerns they may have regarding 5G.”

NCC first announced is to start testing spectrum for 5G services in the country, back in August 2019.  At the time NCC warned authorisation to test 5G did not mean that the technology will soon be available to the general public.

However, 5G appears to be the least of Nigeria’s spectrum woes, as it tries to keep up with the increased demand for voice and data services as the country tackles Covid-19.

According to reports, a cohort of telecommunications operators continue to lobby the NCC to allow them to share spectrum in order to ease congestion.

telecommunications operators have long called for NCC to allow spectrum sharing for them to meet increased demand for voice and data services. Since the country took measures to tackle Covid-19, demand has continued to grow, and operators have renewed calls for an amendment to current regulations.

Despite the challenges, Nigeria’s digital economy will be crucial to future GDP growth as it diversifies from oil and gas and the country issued its new Broadband Plan for 2020 – 2025 on 27 April.

It outlined nation-wide minimum data download speeds of 25Mbps in urban areas and 10Mbps in rural areas, and pledged effective coverage for “at least” 90% of the population by 2025, at a price not more than 2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage, per 1GB of data.

Nigeria established its first five-year broadband plan in 2013, defining minimum download speeds as 1.5Mbps with at least 30% coverage, and outlining an objective to provide 3G coverage to at least 80% of the population.