In a landmark inter-agency collaboration, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) has agreed to work together in a bid to further the cause of the deployment of the Fifth Generation (5G) technology for ubiquitous access to broadband services.
At an event to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two government bodies, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta described the event as one that “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.”
The MoU will see NigComSat yield part of the spectrum under its C-Band to the NCC in order to facilitate the deployment of 5G services in the country.
Explaining the terms, Prof. Danbatta noted: “For optimal 5G service performance, an average of contiguous 100 MHz of spectrum in the C-band is required by an Operator. However in Nigeria, only 120 MHz of the band (3.4 – 3.52) GHz is available for mobile services while the remaining 680 MHz (3.52 – 4.2) GHz of the band is used by NigComSat (NG-1R) satellites.
The Commission initiated negotiation with NIGCOMSAT whom in our 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.”
According to the NCC EVC, 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, he noted, 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.
While thanking the NigComSat CEO, Dr. Abimbola Alale for demonstrating that the nation’s interest is paramount to organizational or personal interest, Danbatta said the two agencies have developed a Memorandum of Understanding detailing all aspect of the undertaking, “having been in discussions on how to relocate the operations of NG-1R to the standard C-band 300MHz (3.9GHz – 4.2GHz) potion of the band, which is more suitable in terms of Satellite service offering because end user terminal are cheaper there, while leaving the non-standard C-band 400MHz (3.5GHz – 3.9GHz) portion of the band for 5G use. The cost of relocating the NG-1R is expected to be offset from the proceeds of the auction of the 5G Spectrum.”
He enthused that the impacts of the collaborative decision will not only strengthen the relationship between both agencies, but would also go a long way in making positive impact on the Nigerian economy.
Stressing on the need for 5G technology on Nigeria, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande, explained: “Telecommunication evolution from inception to date has led to improvement in user experience witnessed from 2G, 3G and later 4G. The global impact of 4G brought about increases in mobile usage and network performance. 5G will build on this momentum, bringing substantial network improvements, including higher connection speeds, mobility and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities.
In doing so, it enables new use cases and applications that will positively impact different sectors and improve efforts towards achieving Digital Economies. It does not only offer enhanced broadband and ultra-low, ultra-reliable latency communications but also provide massive machine type communications, where a lot of devices will seamlessly connect and independently interact with the internet without human intervention. Thus, enabling several Smart City initiatives.”
Citing examples of China, UAE, Europe, Africa, India, Brazil and Australia, where the 3.5GHz band glaringly featured amongst the spectrum that has been prioritized for 5G with prospects for early deployment, Akande said these Spectrum will play a key role in meeting the demand for many enhanced mobile data services in Nigeria, as well as new wireless broadband use cases such as remote object manipulation, industrial automation, virtual and augmented reality and next-generation connectivity for vehicles. These use cases will continue to increase the impact that mobile services have on societies and economies.
He commended the efforts of the NCC EVC and the CEO of NigComSat for “taking an informed decision in national interest which will consequently foster the deployment of 5G and enable Nigeria tap its full potential.
The Managing Director of NigComSat, Dr. Abimbola Alale appreciated the team that arranged the collaboration and thanked the Commission for collaborating with NigComSat in the bid to advance the cause of the digital economy of the Federal Government.
In his remark, the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Engr. Ubale Maska observed that the Spectrum movements will ensure the maximal utilisation of the C-Band and further give impetus to the quest for ubiquitous broadband services across the country.