Nigerian telecos seek roadmap on 5G

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Telecoms operators in the country have advised the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to unveil the roadmap on 5G, which the latest technology developed countries are warming up to embrace.

Acting under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), the operators, said the inevitability of the technology making an inroad into the country has become obvious, underlining the need for the regulator to come out with a roadmap for its adoption.

ALTON Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, who spoke on the sideline of the official launch of a product by Smile Communications in Lagos, said the operating environment has remained hostile, a development that could be seen by the high mortality of members of the group.

According to Adebayo, at inception, the group had about 40 member, which has now reduced to 16 because of the difficulty in the operating environment.

He said: “There is need for the regulator, the NCC, to come out with a roadmap on 5G, on how to embrace it. This is important for the industry.”

He urged the NCC to revisit the issue of data floor line in the industry because it is affecting smaller operators, asking it to release the result of the study conducted on data floor.

He also urged the Federal Government to roll out incentives for players such as Smile Communications because all players, regardless of size, spend the same funds to run business in the country.

Already, competition is fierce on the 5G global stage. International activity around the technology is growing at a fever pitch, as vendors and service providers in technology-focused countries work on early 5G network trials and test 5G with friendly users. The NCC said the technology has already been tested in some parts of Lagos.

Four countries most likely to have the earliest and biggest 5G debut include China, South Korea, Japan and the United States (U.S.).

Already, two service providers in South Korea are vying to be first to market with a 5G network. SK Telecom has acquired spectrum in the 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz frequencies in anticipation of deploying 5G. China is also expected to be a fast-mover in 5G. The Global System for Mobile Communication Association (GSMA) estimated that by 2025 China will represent 40 per cent of global 5G connections.

According to a study from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, the research arm of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), 5G could account for 3.2 percent of China’s entire GDP in 2025, generate eight million jobs, and add 2.9 trillion yuan in economic value by 2030. As hungry consumers demand more and more 5G services, the country expects a huge increase in the number of new companies, employment opportunities, and equipment sales.

Japan is mobilising its communications industry in the hopes of being among the top 5G network players. According to Nikkei Asian Review, NTT DoCoMo and Sohgo Security Services demonstrated an advanced security service based on 5G network technology to determine the effectiveness of the service in handling security for the opening ceremonies of the 2020 Olympics. The trial involved the use of artificial intelligence (AI), a drone with an HD 4K camera, and smartphones.

The U.S. has some advantages in the 5G network race. It already has a lead when it comes to existing 4G networks, thanks to spectrum holdings and the use of unlicensed spectrum. It also leads the way in spectrum efficiency, permitting the repurposing of broadcast spectrum for broadband. However, the U.S. also has disadvantages slowing it down in the 5G network race between countries. Local and municipal governments hold zoning authority over cell towers and base stations, which can slow down authorisation — a potentially bad sign for 5G, which will be characterised by a dense network of small cells.

However, the FCC voted unanimously last year to open nearly 11 GHz of high-frequency spectrum for mobile, flexible, and fixed-use wireless broadband for the 5G future. Numerous vendors and providers are clamoring to make the most of this advantage by launching new trials in more markets with friendly users.

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