Power challenge threatens Nigeria’s 5G commercialisation

By Adeyemi Adepetun |   28 February 2020   |   2:24 am  


• NCC to auction spectrum soon
Commercialisation of fifth-generation (5G) networks in Nigeria will be impacted negatively by power infrastructure gaps that currently exist in the country. Besides, the current state of fibre infrastructure, which remains inadequate in the country, is also seen as another major challenge that may hinder deployment.
   
These gaps were identified by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in Lagos, yesterday, at the on-going Social Media Week (SMW) 2020. The Commission subsequently called on the Federal Government to prioritise adequate infrastructure for power generation and distribution.The Guardian checks showed that Nigeria’s installed capacity is about 12,500 Megawatts (MW), but is only able to produce 7,000 MW, while less than 4,000 MW is shared among the over 180 million people living in the country.
   
As such, NCC warned that something urgent needed to be done to fix the power sector; else, 5G commercialisation would be seriously threatened.Speaking on: “5G Network Deployment: Social Economic Benefits and Challenges,” the Director, Technical Standard and Network Integrity, NCC, Bako Wakil, said 5G is a clear departure from 3G and 4G networks. Wakil said 5G also known as IMT 2020 has been designed with huge capability and requirements for today and future need.

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According to him, having carried out successful trial in the country, the next is commercialisation, “but we have identified the erratic power situation, and low fibre infrastructure as major limitations to its deployment on a large scale in Nigeria.”
   
While the NCC can comfortably address the fibre infrastructure gap, Wakil said: “power generation and distribution is not within our purview, but we are working with the relevant agencies to see what can be done.”
   
In his contribution, at the panel moderated by NCC Head, Online and Special Publication, Dr. Niyi Ibietan, the Commission’s Assistant Director, Spectrum Administration, Kenneth Uzoekwe, hinted that lots of spectrums have been identified by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
     
Uzoekwe, who represented the Commission’s Director of Spectrum Administration, Austin Nwaulune, said about six spectrums at higher bands have been marked down; “they are available, but yet to be assigned.”
   
According to him, 5G’s importance and beauty also lies in the availability of spectrum, adding that whenever Nigeria is ready for its commercial deployment, some re-assignment of some spectrums will be done to fast track deployment.
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On what 5G holds for Nigeria if successfully deployed, Uzoekwe said broadband will improve, leading to faster downloading and uploading of contents; encourage financial inclusion, faster healthcare service delivery, smarter transport system and appliances.On possible radiation emanating from 5G deployment, Wakil dismissed the claims, saying that the radiation from mobile devices is non-iodised, and as such, not harmful to the people.
   
Mitigating the gap to be created by inadequate power, Wakil said although solar technology, and inverter can be deployed to cell sites relatively, “what about security. I mean issues of theft and vandalism. A lot of these facilities are damaged and stolen by vandals. So, we also have the security challenge.”On this, he said the Commission is doing everything within its means to ensure that the ninth assembly passed the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) Bill into law.He said the passage would help criminalise vandals, and ensure that telecoms facilities are adequately protected.Meanwhile, he disclosed that at the appropriate time, the Commission will conduct an auction process for spectrum sales.
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