The adoption of the Fifth Generation (5G) network is fast expanding as MTN disclosed that it has activated over 700 sites across 13 cities since its launch in August 2021.
Connected cities, according to MTN, include Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Owerri, Ibadan, Maiduguri, Abeokuta, Ife, Warri, Enugu, Ife and Ifo. Speaking with journalists, yesterday, on the journey so far, MTN Nigeria’s Chief Technical Officer, Mohammed Rufai, said Nigerians are currently enjoying the benefits of 5G.
Rufai justified that Nigeria was ready for the technology, saying the capacity has always been there in terms of the availability of the spectrum, fibre infrastructure, market and technical know-how. He disclosed that 5G would not only complement the country’s broadband target of 70 per cent penetration by 2025 but also ensure that telecoms services expand to remote areas.
With the country’s broadband penetration at 48 per cent, where some 92 million people are enjoying it, Rufai said MTN has covered about 92 per cent of Nigeria.
While some countries, including South Africa, are planning to shut down 2G and 3G networks, Rufai said that is not in the plan for now in the case of Nigeria. He stressed that the focus is to provide network facilities for all categories of subscribers.
“The fact that we are going to 5G does not mean we should not cater to the needs of the subscribers on the other technology. We must also consider those who need the lower technologies. The fact is even that 3G network can be used for other services in the future.
“For us in Nigeria, shutting down those technologies is not in the plan now. MTN Nigeria would take into account what subscribers need. We shall not leave anyone behind, even as we encourage people to move to higher technology. Of course, we know that a time would come when people on some of those networks will reduce, then we can take appropriate decisions on them,” he stated.
On deepening 5G adoption, Rufai, who admitted that devices, especially mobile, for the technology, are still not much in the market, while smartphones prices are highly exorbitant, said customers can still enjoy the benefits of the technology through fixed wireless infrastructure, saying there are 5G routers that people can get and connect to WiFi.
He disclosed that some Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are currently working with MTN on 5G devices.
While admitting that it has not been that easy on the issue of Right of Way (RoW), especially for fibre expansion into states, the MTN CTO however, commended the efforts of the Federal Government, saying more states are opening up and seeing the economic benefits of such move.
“I think challenges around RoW are being addressed. Fibre deployment is key to ensuring 5G expands across the country,” he stated.