Erratic power supply, Others hinder 5G development in Nigeria - NCC

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has identified issues of power infrastructure as a key challenge hindering development of the fifth generation network (5G) in Nigeria.

Mr Bako Wakil, the Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity (DTSNI) of NCC, stated this at the ongoing Social Media Week. Wakil spoke at a special session on “5G Development, Benefits and Challenges” on Thursday in Lagos. He said: “Today, if you look at all the base station across Nigeria, they are working 24/7 on generator. How can you deploy generator to be able to service all these cells in all 50 to 100 metres? So, one of our biggest challenges is power; unless we fix the power issue, it will be very difficult for us to enjoy the full 5G experience.” Wakil also identified insufficient fibre infrastructure as part of the challenges for 5G development. He said that NCC has over 40 terabyte of fibre capacity at the nation’s shore, while there are no fibre offices in the cites, inter-lands and villages. The good thing about fibres infrastructure is something the NCC had taken step to deploy across all the 774 local government areas of the country. We have a programme that is going to run for four years, and within this four years, it is an expectation that each local government will have at least, 10 gigabytes capacity of fibre connected,” Wakil said. The commission has licenced infrastructure companies that would cascade fibre to ensure it gets to each of the local governments in Nigeria. He said the alternative source of power such as inverter batteries and solar power were also threatened due to insecurity and theft of the cells. In the Nigerian environment, how do we secure those solar cells across the country? The experience we have today, unfortunately, a lot of these are being stolen away, how do we secure the alternative source of power? It is difficult, but it is possible,” he said.

Wakil said that the commission was working in collaboration with the National Assembly, other Ministries such as Works and Environment and security agencies to ensure the passage of Critical National Infrastructure Bill. According to him, this is to criminalise those vandalising and stealing communication infrastructure. He also said that the commission was still on the 5G trial process, adding it would work with the service providers on how to go on commercial deployment to put things in order. The trial process is not over and we are working with the service provider on how to go on commercial. We need to put things in order as we are going to assign some of the spectrums that had been identified during the last World Radio Conference in Egypt, to operators for them to go on commercial,” he said.

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