Nigeria closer to 5G deployment; NCC, NIGCOMSAT ink MoU for spectrum


Nigeria’s quest for the commercial deployment of fifth generation technology (5G) received a major boost as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited to leveraging C-Band Spectrum for 5G services.

The C-band is regarded as most suitable and appropriate for immediate deployment of 5G services taking into consideration availability of device ecosystem with 60-70% of global commercial 5G network deployment currently in the band.

NCC had in November 2019 carried out a successful trial of 5G; making Nigeria the first in West Africa to conduct the test.

Speaking at the event, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. U. G. Danbatta, said that the MoU was aimed at facilitating the release of contiguous bandwidth in one of the most suitable Frequency Spectrum band(s) for early deployment of 5G services in the Nigerian market.

Danbatta said that amongst the Frequency Spectrum bands allocated to 5G by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU, the C-band (3.4GHz – 3.9GHz) stands out because its balancing point between coverage and capacity provides the perfect environment for 5G connectivity.

In his words, the EVC said “For optimal 5G service performance, an average of contiguous 100 MHz of spectrum in the C-band is required by an Operator. However in Nigeria, only 120 MHz of the band (3.4 – 3.52) GHz is available for mobile services while the remaining 680 MHz (3.52 – 4.2) GHz of the band is used by NigComSat (NG-1R) satellites.

He said that NCC initiated negotiation with NIGCOMSAT who in its estimate could make some adjustment to its satellite operation and release part of its Spectrum holding in the band to facilitate the deployment of 5G in Nigeria.

Danbatta said that the impeccable team at NigComSat proved the NCC right.

The two agencies have been in discussions on how to relocate the operations of NG-1R to the standard C-band 300MHz (3.9GHz – 4.2GHz) potion of the band, which is more suitable in terms of Satellite service offering because end user terminal are cheaper there, while leaving the non-standard C-band 400MHz (3.5GHz – 3.9GHz) portion of the band for 5G use. The cost of relocating the NG-1R is expected to be offset from the proceeds of the auction of the 5G Spectrum, Danbatta said.

The EVC further commended the Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT, Dr. Abimbola Alale for demonstrating that the interest of Nigeria is paramount to NCC organizational or personal interest.

Also speaking, the Chairman Board of Commissioners, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Adeolu Akande, said that Telecommunication evolution from inception to date has led to improvement in user experience witnessed from 2G, 3G and later 4G. The global impact of 4G brought about increases in mobile usage and network performance. 5G will build on this momentum, bringing substantial network improvements, including higher connection speeds, mobility and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities.

In doing so, it enables new use cases and applications that will positively impact different sectors and improve efforts towards achieving Digital Economies.

“It does not only offer enhanced broadband and ultra-low, ultra-reliable latency communications but also provide massive machine type communications, where a lot of devices will seamlessly connect and independently interact with the internet without human intervention. Thus, enabling several Smart City initiatives, Prof. Adeolu Akande said.

He commend the efforts of the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC)/CEO of NCC Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta and his counterpart the Managing Director(MD) of NigComSat Ms. Abimbola Alale for taking an informed decision in national interest which will consequently foster the deployment of 5G and enable Nigeria tap its full potential.




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