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Nigeria's operators keeping mum on 5G

Nigeria's operators keeping mum on 5G

Uncertainty has gripped Nigeria's ICT sector and its telecommunications industry as far as the roll out of 5G technology is concerned, with operators keeping mum on their specific plans.

In July 2019, executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta hosted MTN Nigeria's top executives, including the company's chief executive officer Ferdinand Moolman.

At the meeting Moolman said, "MTN Nigeria had begun technical test runs of its 5G services for future deployment."

Attempts by ITWeb Africa to secure more information have proven unsuccessful to date.

Airtel has also chosen not to comment about its 5G plans.

Credit rating agency Fitch Ratings recently predicted that Airtel may limit its participation in 5G auction, attributing this to the "expensive spectrum and limited business case of 5G in the short to medium term".

It noted that Bharti Airtel has raised a total of US$5.7-billion through a rights issue of US$3.5-billion; US$1.45-billion through a private placement of a stake in Airtel Africa; and US$680-million from Airtel Africa's IPO.

"We believe Bharti's management is committed to maintaining an investment-grade rating and intends to deleverage the balance sheet," according to a statement by the ratings agency.

In February 2019, Globacom said it would "execute a conceptual launch of 5G in 700mhz band for Internet of Things application this year" - although the company continues to focus on its 4G LTE penetration.

And consistent with its competitors, it has not issued any details regarding its 5G plans.

The country's fourth largest operator, 9mobile, has also remained quiet.

Despite the lack of clarity, the NCC remains optimistic about Nigeria's readiness for 5G.

In June 2019, Dambatta said: "NCC did not just sit back. We held a stakeholders' forum to come up with a roadmap on 5G."

However, a 5G search on the NCC website yielded no results.

Nigeria tech industry expert, Wale Oladipupo said the low level of activities surrounding local 5G is not a surprise considering the existing gaps in 4G.

"They cannot be talking about 5G when they are still having headaches with 4G," he told ITWeb Africa.


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