•As FG grants Airtel right to 5G non-commercial trial
•Shares more insights on 5G Roadmap in Nigeria
By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor
Indications have emerged that telecom operators, MTN Nigeria and Airtel Nigeria, will likely be the first two players to deploy the Fifth Generation, 5G network in Nigeria by January 2022.“Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Prof. Umar Dambatta, disclosed this yesterday, as he threw more light on 5G Roadmap at the Nigeria e-Government Summit in Lagos.
Danbatta, while delivering a keynote at the forum, revealed that the commission had granted Airtel right to demonstrate its own 5G services, to determine how efficient it can be.
Recall that MTN was given the same opportunity and the trial was carried out in 2019. According to Danbatta, the NCC is in the process of another non commercial trial with Airtel.
He said: “Recently we granted approval to the Proof-of-Concept (PoC) and Non-Commercial 5G trials in the 3.5 and 26GHz bands to MTN Communications PLC, and now we are in the process of another non commercial trial with Airtel.
Airtel has also confirmed the development, saying the trial ought to have even happened this September.
A reliable source from Airtel who didn’t want to be quoted said: “It’s true, we are set to commence 5G non commercial trial across the country. The trials ought to have happened this September, but very soon we will commence” he added
Danbatta also noted that since his commission issued the Spectrum Trading Guidelines to enable Operators transfer, lease or share spectrum resources, only MTN and Airtel, have completed acquiring spectrum bands.
“Two Spectrum bands trading, the transfer of 2 x 10MHz in the 900MHz Extended GSM Band from Intercellular to Airtel, and 2 x 10MHz in the 800MHz band from Intercellular to MTN, have been successfully traded” he said.
Although the NCC did not specifically say when the 5G network will flag off in the country, as license auction for it is yet to happen, reliable inside sources told Vanguard, deployment of the network will commence in January 2022.
Represented at the summit by the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management, Barr Adewolu Adeleke, Danbata said: “Following the Presidential approval of the 5G Policy, we have developed a 5G deployment plan for Nigeria’s Digital economy, and we have set up a committee to auction the 3.5 GHz band for 5G deployment in Nigeria. Details of the auction will be announced in due course.
” The Commission is currently updating the National Frequency Allocation Table, NFAT, for more efficient spectrum allocation and usage to reflect WRC-19 reccomedations. We are also opening up some new spectrum bands for utilization, such as the 60GHz V-band and the 70/80GHz E-band for both point-to-point and point-to-multi-points deployments.
“We are working in collaboration with the National Frequency Management Council, NFMC and the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to ensure that the 700MHz and 2.6GHz bands are completely cleared of any encumbrances so that they can be assigned to Operators for their broadband deployments.
“We recently granted approval to the Proof-of-Concept (PoC) and Non-Commercial 5G trial in the 3.5 and 26GHz bands to MTN Communications PLC. We are also in the process of another trial with Airtel.
“We have since issued the Spectrum Trading Guidelines to enable Operators transfer, lease or share spectrum resources. Two Spectrum bands have been successfully traded. The transfer of 2 x 10MHz in the 900MHz Extended GSM Band from Intercellular to Airtel, and 2 x 10MHz in the 800MHz band from Intercellular to MTN.
“We recently concluded the development of Guidelines on TV White Space, TVWS, for the deployment of broadband services in the country.
“We have created a Satellite Unit within the Technical Standards and Network Integrity Department for the regularization of the activities of Satellite Operators in Nigeria (including Space Station Operators and Earth Station Operators)” .
He said these developments, among other activities are geared towards ensuring accessibility to efficient and affordable network infrastructure to power e-Government and other Digital Economy initiatives throughout Nigeria.