NCC, Nigcomsat sign pact on deployment of 5G

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and the Nigerian Communications Satellite, Nigcomsat on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the clearing of C-band frequency for deployment of 5G services.

According to the Executive  Vice Chairman  of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, Nigeria is ready to deploy the 5G technology because all issues of health and security surrounding its deployment had finally been laid to  rest, stressing that the federal  government  has concluded plans to commence the deployment  process soon.

Under the agreement, NIGCOSAT is committing about 160MgHz of C-band from which government  will generate revenue from the sales to service providers through the NCC.
The MoU, according to Danbatta, has the blessing of the National Frequency Management  Council, NFMC which is chaired by the Minister  of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami.

On the controversy surrounding the 5G technology, the EVC said it had already been addressed both on security and health related issues and that the Commission had gone further to sensitize the public on the research findings.

‘‘I can tell you that all issues associated with the safety of this technology have been adequately addressed.  Nigerians have been sensitized as well on all the issues with regards to health and security dimension.

‘‘All these issues were addressed at the level of 5G trial and our recommendations have gone to the government. Very soon we will come up with a statement on the date for the deployment of 5G, the policy is equally ready and it is with government.  All issues associated with deployment will be addressed.

‘‘Our state of readiness is satisfactory, we have the policy, we have the resources for deployment of 5G services in the country and we have mobile network operators that are willing  to bid for the available spectrum that will be used for the deployment of 5G technology services.

‘‘The next step is for the spectrum in question to be allocated by the National Frequency management Council,  which has the Minister as the chairman. He is aware of the MoU and has given his blessing and we are not envisaging any problem at the level of the NFMC, we are assured of getting the approval.’’
On the  expected revenue accruable to government,  Danbatta  assured that the revenue is going to be huge.

 ‘‘We are going to do an auction of 100MGz for each frequency. There is a reserved price but the amount of revenue involved if huge.’’

Signing the MoU on behalf of NCC, Prof. Danbatta said the agreement  will facilitate the release of contiguous bandwidth in one of the most suitable Frequency Spectrum band(s) for early deployment of fifth Generation Network (5G) services in the largest market in sub-Saharan Africa. 

He noted 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.

“The C-band is 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, thus the importance of this Spectrum for early deployment of 5G services in Nigeria cannot be over emphasized, adding that an average of contiguous 100 MHz of spectrum in the C-band is required by an Operator for optimal 5G service performance,” he added.

However, the EVC noted that only 120 MHz of the band (3.4 – 3.52) GHz is available in Nigeria for mobile services, while the remaining 680 MHz (3.52 – 4.2) GHz of the band is used by NigComSat (NG-1R) satellites. 

According to him, the Commission initiated negotiation with NIGCOMSAT which 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. 

On her part, the Managing Director of NigComsat, Dr. Abimbola Alale said the release of the frequency by NigComSat to NCC is going to be mutually beneficial to both agencies of government and the country  in general.

She also expressed optimism that the NCC is going to live up to its promise in terms of guaranteeing the safety of the frequency.
In his speech, the Chairman Board  of NCC, Prof. Adeluyi Akande, said  with the successful signing  of the MoU, 5G will build on the  momentum drawn from  user experience witnessed from 2G, 3G and later 4G, bringing substantial network improvements, including higher connection speeds, mobility and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities

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