By Prince Osuagwu
NIGERIA needs at least seventy to eighty thousand telecommunication base stations to actualize her dream of joining the club of countries working toward making Internet of Things (IoT) a reality by leveraging 4G and 5G networks.
Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who made this known at a sitting of the House Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee investigating the health implications of mounting telecommunications masts close to building, yesterday in Abuja, said the country currently has less than 50,000 base stations.
“3G, 4G going to 5G networks are going to usher this country into smart applications, the Internet of Things or the smart world and cities we are talking about. And of course because of the additional burden on infrastructure, the present capacity of telecom infrastructure is grossly inadequate to cater for these additional platforms or services we talk about. Therefore we will need from 70,000 to 80,000 base transceiver masts to be able to provide the effective capacity that’s needed to deploy 4G going to 5G,” he said while responding to questions from members of the ad hoc committee.
He later called on other approving agencies at all levels of government in the country to synergize with NCC with a view to achieving the target, noting that the United Kingdom (UK), with a population of almost one third of Nigeria already has close to 60,000 masts.
On concerns about health implications to exposure to electromagnetic field, Danbatta said researches so far conducted in the area have not indicated any adverse health concerns. “With regards to other professional bodies like Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) we don’t have any quarrel with their positions. The only question is when we say exposure to electromagnetic field is hazardous to health what level are we talking about? We have to define the level of exposure that is hazardous to human beings.
“Of course if you generate a massive electromagnetic field of unprecedented proportion and put a person inside, there will be medical consequences. But what we are saying is that: provided the limit specified is observed and NCC is there to ensure compliance with that limit, there is no health hazard. There is a limit of safety below which electromagnetic fields do not cause any harm to health,” he explained.