As a regulator of the most vibrant and the fastest growing sector in Nigeria – the ICT sector – the Nigerian Communications Commission on Thursday, February 27, 2020 mounted the stage to discuss with telecom consumers on: “Fifth Generation (5G) Networks Deployment: Socio-economic Benefits and Challenges.”
The session drew possibly the largest audience but certainly the most robust and engrossing participation.
NCC’s Director of Technical Standards & Network Integrity, Engineer Bako Wakil and Assistant Director Spectrum Administration, Kenneth Uzoekwe, took piercing questions as the Head, Online Media and Publication, Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan moderated.
The two distinguished engineers broke 5G down in contexts that made meaning to the audience, and they did speedily and steadily in about 40 minutes, giving 25 minutes for interaction with the audience.
The Chairman of NCC Board of Commissioners, Prof. Adeolu Akande, was a distinguished member of that audience, who sat quietly to savour the conversation.
Recall that the non-commercial first Proof of Concept (PoC) trial of Fifth Generation (5G) Networks took place in the country in November 2019.
Engi. Wakil told the audience about some of the steps engaged by the Commission to enlighten the public/operators on telecom services.
Such engagements include monthly engagement sessions with operators on QoS, quarterly QoS Industry working group meeting, engagement with the Nigerian Governors Forum to align right of way charges with that agreed courtesy the National Economic Council resolution; and engagement with individual governors to reduce and eliminate the incidences of site shutdown by state government agencies.
The steps also include instituting benchmarking drive test across the country to measure performance of each operator in a given area and identify coverage gaps with a view to bridging them; instituting new QoS measurement mechanisms for assessing the QoS performance of operators to ensure measured performance more closely aligns with subscriber experiences across all states of the federation; deployment of QoS measurement systems at the Commission to enable near real-time assessment of QoS across the country from the Commissions office, among others.
Thus, as the Commission prepares the ground for 5G networks commercial launch, it continues to take several steps aimed at continuously improving quality of service (QoS) both for voice and data services, says NCC officials during a session at the Social Media Week (#SMWLagos2020), held in Lagos.
On 5G, the he said that the country is on cause to achieving commercial roll-out in record time.
He however added that mobile phone network operators in Nigeria, like their counterparts in other parts of the world will have to pay for the spectrum which will be available through an ‘auction’.
Putting a price to the 5G spectrum by the NCC would key into global trends where virtually every country that is now deploying the technology had to auction the spectrum.
In some cases, operators had to pay as much as $3.2 billion to get license for the deployment of the service.
Reiterating the fact, Engr. Wakil said, “The 5G spectrum is not going to be free. It is going to be auctioned”.
Though he did not say when the licensing would take place and the mode of awarding the license, the Director said Nigeria has no option than to follow the global trend.
He said the spectrum for the 5g technology has been assigned to Nigeria at the recent world radio conference and only existing operators would be allowed to bid for the spectrum.
Wakil said the NCC is currently perfecting its acts and consulting with operators on how to begin commercial launch of 5G in Nigeria.
“Every country is working to move to 5G; we cannot be left out from the 5G benefits”, Wakil said, adding that Nigeria is not late in efforts to adopt the 5G technology, as the NCC was doing all that is possible to ensure Nigeria keys into the global trend and the benefits that are available in 5G deployment.
Engr. Wakil allayed fears that 5G adoption could pose challenges to data protection, saying that NCC and the operators would ensure end-to-end encryption, follow data protection laws and provide firewalls for all 5G networks and systems.