Nigeria govt targets 2025 for full 5G coverage of urban centres
• NCC says subscribers won’t be forced to use technology
While spectrum for 5G is expected to be auctioned by the last quarter of the year, the Federal Government has hoped that by 2025, urban centres in Nigeria would have been 5G enabled.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which disclosed this, equally said telecoms subscribers in the country would not be forced to use the technology.
Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who revealed this in Lagos, yesterday, at the Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) Quarter Meeting and Open Forum 2021, said Nigeria could not be left behind in the deployment of the technology.
Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Efosa Idehen, said the 5G communication technology is the next evolution of the mobile communications technology, which is capable of creating new opportunities for growth in the economy by enabling new and dynamic business models and opening up new opportunities and markets.
He stressed that the technology also provides tremendous improvements in interpersonal communications with several innovations and services.
There is no doubt that this “new era of survival” after the COVID-19 pandemic has nudged Nigeria to accelerate technological innovations and the development of emerging technologies.
Danbatta said he is particularly gratified that the ICT sector has been exemplary in advancing growth without breaching official protocols instituted to manage the spread of the pandemic.
“It is indeed noteworthy that the NCC has been consistent and profound in instituting regulatory measures that will promote 5G deployment,” he said.
According to Danbatta, as a precursor to the commencement of commercial deployment of 5G network in the country, the NCC submitted a 5G Development Plan (5GDP) to the Federal Government for final approval towards effective deployment of the technology to cover major urban areas by 2025.
He explained that the Plan is to ensure efficient assignment of spectrum for deployment of 5G technology; create an enabling environment for investment in the industry; ensure the security of the 5G ecosystem and the protection of data; as well as ensure that international best practices and globally-accepted standards and specifications are entrenched in Nigeria’s 5G ecosystem.
Lead paper presenter, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, said the fact that earlier generations of technology have not been fully utilised does not mean the country shouldn’t deploy new technologies.
Adebayo, who said 5G has come to stay in the country, again, debunked claims that the technology has anything to do with COVID-19 or cancer. He said conspiracy theories about mobile phone technology have been circulating since the 1990s, and have long historical roots.
According to him, expert opinion issued by authorities such as the WHO, GSMA and ICNIRP have affirmed that base station signals and radiation are non-ionising and do not pose a risk of predisposition to cancer or any other disease.
He said the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) noted that there is limited evidence that radio frequency signals could cause cancer in humans.
Ahead of planned deployment, the ALTON boss said the Federal Government, mobile network operators (MNOs) and the NCC have a responsibility to drive awareness on the benefits of the deployment of 5G.
According to him, this awareness involves sensitisation of citizens through different forums such as ICAF.
He said: “Awareness also involves the Federal Government actively participating in regional and global engagements on the deployment of 5G to ensure that we stay abreast of developments and best practice, e.g. the 2020 updated guidelines of the ICNIRP.”