Nigeria dabbles in spectrum for 5G


Nigeria's telecommunications regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has approved the provision of spectrum frequency for operators to test 5G services in the country.

From Abuja, NCC executive vice chairman Umar Danbatta said telecom operators can now evaluate their network's capacity to offer high speed 5G broadband services.

"By making available the telecom resource for this test, Nigeria joins the very small number of African countries that are already preparing for the next global technological revolution, expected by 2020," said Danbatta.

Nigeria's announcement brings the total number of countries in Africa that are testing the service to five, including: Morocco, South Africa, Lesotho and Algeria.

Experts said the move by the NCC could stimulate local interest in 5G which, until now, has been largely muted in the West African country.

In August 2019, ITWeb Africa reported that uncertainty had gripped Nigeria's ICT sector and its telecommunications industry in over 5G roll out, with operators offering little information about their specific plans.

Experts attributed this to a lack of regulatory leadership regarding the provision of relevant spectrum frequencies.

While several 5G experiments have been carried out by a number of telecom operators in Africa, no regulator has allocated frequencies for operators to fully market the service. Likewise, the Nigerian 5G experiment does not suggest that the service will be available to telecom subscribers in the country as the regulator remains silent on spectrum allocation for commercial rollout of 5G services in the country.

Experts point out Nigeria's priority to rapidly expand broadband penetration which currently hovers around 30%.

David McQueen, Research Director at ABI Research, said that 5G can only really be enjoyed by a small number of subscribers who can afford 5G-enabled phones that cost about US$700 on average.

Should Nigeria choose to prioritise 5G, the decision may backfire warn industry insiders because it would impact negatively on the country's already low broadband penetration.