Gidado Tukur and Kunle Azeez
Have you ever imagined experiencing internet speed on your current 4G network times 10 at some point in future? Have you thought about having all your television, your door, your refrigerator and other home appliances being controlled by a single mobile phone on your palm?
Have you ever imagined a world where everything is data-driven with more efficiency and less stress because you have a technology that can help you achieve most of your tasks without having to gallivant from the length and breadth of the countries, wasting precious time?
Welcome to the world of 5G network, which is an advancement on the current 4G network being used in Nigerians. The 5G network is no longer a future technology, as it is being perceived in some quarters, but rather a technology urgently needed in every economy today because of its high efficiency.
The 5G stands for the 5th generation mobile network. It is a new global wireless standard after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. 5G enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.
Regardless of current mixed feelings regarding the deployment of 5G, it is clear that, it is next generation wireless network technology that is expected to change the way people live and work.
It will be faster and able to handle more connected devices than the existing 4G LTE network, improvements that will enable a wave of new kinds of tech products.
NCC’s move for safe 5G deployment in Nigeria
In its proactive regulatory measures of ensuring adequate test of new technology to ensure their safe deployment in the country, just as it has done with the previous technologies of 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G before their deployment in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) started regulatory moves to advance the country with 5G networks.
The NCC is mandated to prepare and implement programmes and plans that promote and ensure the development of the communications industry and the provision of communications services in Nigeria.
Further to this mandate, the Commission considered that the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) Technology will be beneficial for socio-economic development of Nigeria. The technology is an advancement of existing mobile technologies (2G – 4G) with enhanced capabilities providing new and enhanced mobile communications services.
Such enhancements include applications like Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Drones, Advanced Communication Systems, Cloud, 3D Printing, Mixed Reality, Simulation / Imaging, Gamification. These will bring improvements in Manufacturing, Transportation, Public Services, Health and Social Works, Agriculture, Energy, Logistics, Media and Entertainment, Mining and Quarrying, Machinery and Equipment, Automotive, Education, Information and Communication, Urban Infrastructure, Consumer experience, Sports, Semiconductor Technologies etc.
The deployment of 5G technologies will consequently promote the National Digital Economy for a Digital Nigeria that will improve the way Nigerians live and work. 5G has been deployed commercially and in use in some countries. As with the previous technologies, the International Commission for Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has classified radiation from 5G as non-ionizing and therefore safe for human beings.
Following global trends in telecommunications development of 5G, the Commission in November 2019, embarked on a Proof of Concept (trial) with MTN in six locations using different equipment vendors for a period of three (3) months. Relevant stakeholders including members of the security agencies were involved in the trial.
The trial was conducted to enable the Commission assess the performance of the technology in comparison with existing technologies, evaluate compliance to health and safety guidelines and also use the lessons learnt to guide Policy towards a possible commercial deployment.
This trial which was successfully conducted on the 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz bands, showed improvement of 5G over previous technologies with the radiation levels well below the specified human safety guideline. The equipment used in the trials have long been decommissioned in all location.
It should be noted that that 5G has not been commercially deployed in Nigeria until approval by the Government. Arising from the trial and in line with a directive from the Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, the Commission commenced the development of a policy for the deployment of 5G in Nigeria. The process will involve a wide consultation with all the relevant stakeholders in line with Section 57 of the Nigerian Communication Act 2003.
All these steps according to the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta is to ensure a safe, efficient and effective deployment of 5G in Nigeria to enhance consumer quality of experience.