MTN Nigeria Communications Plc has started 5G trial services this week to begin its launch of fifth-generation mobile telecommunications in seven cities across Nigeria’s six geo-political zones.
Commercial 5G services will become effective from October, less than six weeks away, in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano, Owerri, and Maiduguri, Nigeria’s biggest operator by subscription and turnover said in a statement.
By October, the operator expects to be running its 5G services on no less than 600 cell sites all over Nigeria.
It will be recalled that in December 2021, after 11 rounds of bidding that lasted eight hours, MTN and Mafab won the much coveted two 5G slots in a 3.5gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). Each winner paid $273.6 million for the 5G spectrum licence allowing them to deploy services by August 24, 2022, under the terms of the 5G MoU.
But only MTN has been able to meet the rollout deadline as Mafab has been granted an extension by the NCC to begin operation in January 2023.
“Every major technological evolution redefines what is possible – changing how we live and connect. MTN Nigeria has been at the forefront of every leap in telecommunications: from GSM to 2G, 3G, and 4G,” said Chief Marketing Officer, MTN Nigeria, Adia Sowho, in a statement to announce the telco’s 5G run.
She added: “5G has the potential to change everything. It will allow us to connect, create, collaborate, and compete in ways we’ve not even begun to imagine,”
Sowho expressed the company’s appreciation for Nigerian authorities helping to lead the 5G charge.
Her words: We appreciate the unwavering support and leadership of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission in implementing the National Policy on 5G Networks for Nigeria’s Digital Economy, which has driven the implementation of 5G in the country. We’re honoured to be a part of this revolution and being the first to bring 5G to Nigeria we are truly excited about all the possibilities for the nation.”
The NCC expects 5G launch to further deepen Nigeria’s broadband penetration from below 50 per cent now to above 75 per cent by mid-2023.
The service is expected to spread to more cities in the next 36 months even as the global market addresses the challenge of the paucity of 5 G-enabled devices.
While 5G handset global shipment has overtaken older generations whether 3G or 4G, Gartner expects 5G smartphone shipments to be around 710 million in 2022, far lower than the 5.34 billion unique mobile phone users in the world today. The supply is expected to pick as the 5G rollout expands worldwide,