NCC Upbeat on plans for 5G deployment

. Restates 97% readiness level

As the plan for Fifth Generation (5G) technology deployment in the country gathers momentum, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has confirmed that it is 97% ready to begin full implementation.

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, re-affirmed the status of the Commission’s 5G technology deployment at the annual African Tech Alliance Forum (AfriTech 2021), Wednesday, in Lagos, themed: “Embracing Changes and Digital Transformation in the New Normal.”

Danbatta, represented by the Director, Spectrum Administration, Oluwatoyin Asaju, spoke on, “NCC as a Digital Transformation Crusader and Nigeria’s in-Road to 5G Deployment,” noting that the COVID-19 pandemic caused a change in the dynamics of people’s interaction, especially on the Internet, with almost all communication becoming virtual in one way or another.

He, however, argued that this paradigm shift in communication has led to significant increase in network connectivity requirements as a result of unprecedented upsurge in Internet traffic, occasioned by the use of a plethora of web applications such as Zoom, Microsoft teams, WebEx, Goto, Webner and a host of others.

These, he said, have made remote work, virtual meetings, virtual studies and virtual healthcare delivery, among others, the new normal, according to a statement by the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde.

According to Danbatta, although the network infrastructure in Nigeria has demonstrated some capacity to contain the surge in internet traffic, a lot of work is being done by the Commission to boost network capacity, sensitise the public and ensure accessibility to affordable connectivity during the period of the pandemic and beyond.

The NCC is committed to promoting this inevitable change and enhancing user experience through effective regulation of the telecoms sector.

Due to the network traffic demand, the EVC said the NCC is working with operators to implement a number of initiatives to ensure network expansion, including ongoing plan to auction spectrum in the 3.5 gigahertz (Ghz) band to operators for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria.

Danbatta was quoted: “Consistent with our mandate as enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA-2003), and other guiding legislations, we have been working to ensure the penetration of broadband services in line with Federal Government’s targets, as contained in Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020 to 2025.

“Already, we are set for the auction some spectrum slots in the 3.5GHz band. The other day I was at the National Assembly, I informed the Senate that we were 95 per cent ready for 5G. Today, as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97% completion.

“The Committee set up to auction the Spectrum has already developed an Information Memorandum (IM), which is already published for inputs and comments from all industry stakeholders. Prior to this, a 5G deployment plan was developed and we have since secured Federal Government’s approval.”

Despite many other initiatives being put in place by the Commission to improve broadband connectivity in Nigeria, he added that COVID-19-induced surge in Internet traffic continues to challenge National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) and other agencies to ensure deployment of adequate resources such as spectrum and other forms of support to increase network resilience and accessibility to telecommunication services.

“Emerging technologies such as 5G, which NCC is driving aggressively in Nigeria, Internet of Things (IoT); Cloud Computing; Quantum Computing Augmented/Virtual Reality, and similar emerging technologies are playing a critical role in improving remote communication over the internet with great user experience. The NCC is committed to promoting this inevitable change and enhancing user experience through effective regulation of the telecoms sector,” Danbatta said.

Key industry stakeholders participated at the one-day Forum, which also featured exhibitions by some players.

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