The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) scheduled August 24th for the launch of 5G service in Nigeria. While reports from MTN Nigeria, one of the two telecommunications companies with license to operate the fifth generation in Nigeria, revealed the company’s readiness to launch the service, Mafab Communications, the second licensed company, has got a five months extension till January 2023. 

Quick catch-up 
MTN, Mafab Communications and Airtel in an intense bid contested for the 5G operating license back in December 2021. The federal government earned over $500 million in revenue from the bidding that produced MTN and Mafab Communications as winners, with the price tags set at $273.6 million per company. Airtel backed out at $270 million after an intense 11 rounds bid. 

State of play
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is on the verge of becoming just the third country in Africa to operate the 5G network on the continent. The other two countries being Kenya and South Africa. 

While South Africa launched the fifth-generation network service in March through MTN and Vodacom, East Africa country Kenya launched the 5G network in April through Safaricom. 

By the numbers 
According to the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), as of June 2022, over 70 countries globally had launched 5G services. This figure is almost two times the number in mid 2020; 38. 

Hence, GSA has projected the numbers of users of the 5G network to reach 1 billion in just 3.5 years of its inception. The 4G and 3G network reached this number of users in 4 and 12 years, respectively. 

Also, South Korea, the first country to roll out the 5G network, is expected to remain the country with the highest penetration. 

5G Features 
The 5G service offers data speed 100 times faster than 4G and lower latency (the delay between instruction for a data transfer and its actual transfer). This implies that the 5G network promises faster downloads, much lower lag time, and transmitting of data faster and accurately.

The 5G network service also supports about one million connected devices per square kilometer, much more than 4G’s 100,000 devices per square kilometer. 

What you should know 
Nigeria’s broadband internet connection users currently stands at 84.6 million (August, 2022). This also brings the broadband penetration in Africa’s most populous nation to 44.32% (August, 2022). And a milestone achieved in implementing the National Broadband Plan (NBP 2020-2025), a plan to bring 4G broadband penetration to 70% by 2025.

What to watch 
Experts have projected the 5G network to be more expensive than the 4G network, for a country the minimum wage is at N30,000 or $72. The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Budget Office of the Federation, earlier in the month, announced the proposed increase in excise duties on telecommunication services from 2023. Would this increased cost affect the adoption of the 5G network in the country?

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