With the hype in the availability and offerings of the Fourth Generation (4G) technology service by operators of telecommunication services and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), concerned Consumers and service providers have called on the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to look into these claims in order to secure the interest of consumers.
Speaking to eBusiness Life on the issue of 4G, some of the respondents noted that if not addressed by the telecom regulator, consumers of telecommunication services and products will continue to be deceived into believing that they are being offered 4G services while they are on 3G or 3.5G services.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of Medallion Communications, an Interconnect and Data Center Company, Mr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, although some telecom operators offer 4G services, some others bank on the consumer’s ignorance of the technicalities of 4G operations to defraud the consumers, claiming 4G offering, but providing 3G services.
He advised that NCC should commission researches and independent verifications of companies that offer 4G services and products in the Nigerian Telecom market.
He noted that it will be difficult for consumers to know when they are being lied to by the service providers. “The only way a subscriber can know is if the service is particularly good and you are told you are on 4G, or if there are specific services that need heavy bandwidth like when you are streaming. Besides that, the only way to know is to use analytical tools to confirm. But now it’s a subjective conclusion, it is based on your user experience as a customer. Even with 3G, you can do stuff with 3G,” he stated.
The term “4G” references to the speed standard in wireless connectivity.
The international Telecommunications Union-Radio Communications sector (TU-R) specified a set of requirements for the 4G standards, named the International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced (IMT-Advanced) requirements for 4G services at 100 megabits per second (100Mbits/s) for high mobility communications like trains and cars, and 1 gigabit per second (1Gbit/s) for low mobility communications which includes pedestrians and stationary users.
Since the first release versions of Mobile WiMAX and LTE support much less than 1Gbit/s, they are not fully IMT-Advanced compliant but are often branded 4G by service providers.
However, in December 2010, ITU-R recognized that these two technologies, as well as other beyond-3G technologies that do not fulfill the IMT-Advanced compliant versions and “a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed.
In Nigeria, operators have claimed first in the deployment of 4G services. NATCOMS trading as ntel claimed to record a string of firsts which included first advanced 4G/LTE network providing superfast Internet access that enables voice, data video and TV on demand; first network to make a 4G data call in 2016; First network to make a Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) Call in 2016; First 4G/LTE Advanced network which began full operations in Nigeria in 2016 in Lagos and Abuja and First network to launch a bespoke 4G/LTE dual-SIM phone in Nigeria.
Also, Globacom asserts superiority hinged on being the first to launch 4G LTE network in 33 cities across the country in 2016. It recently scored another first by introducing the novel concept of creating a dedicated path in its 4G LTE network for enterprise customers.
Recently Airtel launched its own 4G service, while MTN had been on that path for some time now. Other providers of 4G telecommunication services include Smile Communications, Spectranet, Swift Networks among others.
However, consumers have cried out over persistent low-quality service and speed in data services which was supposed to be enhanced by the availability of these 4G services and devices. They insist that these operators’ claims should draw the attention of the regulator, the NCC in order to propel the operators to deliver quality 4G services or stop the claims. Some of the consumers that spoke to eBusiness Life believe that the claims are mere marketing gimmicks meant to fraudulently increase their subscriber base.
While Nigeria is still grappling with getting it right with 4G, some other countries are already utilizing the Fifth Generation advantage.
President and CEO of Ericsson, Börje Ekholm, had at a conference predicted that there will be one billion 5G devices on the market by 2023, and they could likely shift how we interact with our connected devices.
5G has been designed to be the industrial internet, with remote control of machinery and maintenance with augmented reality (AR) as two prime examples. “At the same time, the consumer will see this too, for instance, in healthcare and autonomous vehicles where low latency will be a critical factor,” Ekholm said.
Ekholm addressed the need for the right regulatory regime, emphasizing deregulation and easier site permitting processes, which will allow for the rapid build-out of sites necessary for 5G.
“It’s important for governments to see networks as critical natural resources,” he said. “100 years ago, we built out railways and roads. The future roads are digital highways.”
“Think about the smartphone,” he said. “Did we think that we would use it to stream video and music, order food and order a cab? No. The new use cases will come as the technology matures.”