By Emma Okonji
Following public outcry from telecoms operators and industry stakeholders on the need for an Executive Order from the presidency to protect telecoms infrastructure, the federal government has said it is considering the policy.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, said he had written a letter to the Attorney General of the Federation to review the draft on the proposed Executive Order on telecoms infrastructure, for onward transmission to President Muhammadu Buhari to take action on the policy.
This is just as MTN Nigeria, recently, officially demonstrated its 5G trial expected to further advance technology development in terms of speed of connectivity, machine-to-macine application, and ultra-low latency, before the full deployment of the 5G technology in public places.
With the 5G trial, MTN became the first service provider to demonstrate 5G technology application in Nigeria and the whole of West Africa.
The minister who gave the assurance during the MTN 5G trial in Abuja, said: “The 5G trial by MTN Nigeria is a welcome development that will further drive technology development in the country. President Muhammadu Buhari is very passionate about Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development in the country, and he understands the sector to be a critical sector of the Nigerian economy.
The federal government is aware of the several challenges of the ICT industry, especially in the area of infrastructure.
“At our meeting yesterday, we had good discussion about the issue of telecoms infrastructure that needs protection through presidential declaration of telecoms infrastructure as critical national infrastructure. We are currently pushing for an Executive Order. To this effect, I have written a letter to the Attorney General of the Federation to review the draft on on the proposed Executive Order on telecoms infrastructure and I see this move as a short term solution. For the long term solution, President Buhari has directed us to facilitate the process of having a legislation in place and this is also in the pipeline.
“We have had series of meetings to address the issue of telecoms facilities vandalisation because we are worried about the infrastructure challenges that the industry is facing. We strongly believe that the 5G trial by MTN, will lead to full deployment of 5G technology and we are working with the security agencies to see that we have a successful 5G deployment in our country Nigeria. I assume all Nigerians that there will be no back door policy when it comes to full deployment of 5G technology in the country.”
The Executive Vice Chaiman and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who spoke to journalists, said 5G technology would drive speed of connectivity, machine-to-macine applications, and ultra-low latency. He listed the three major usage scenarios for 5G applications to include enhanced mobile broadband, machine-to-machine applications, and ultra-low latency applications.
“We saw all these demonstrated by MTN during the 5G trial, and we are looking forward to the manner and ways that 5G technology will enhance the lives of Nigerians and drive national development when fully deployed,” Danbatta said.
He added that NCC had in the past, given approval for 2G, 3G and 4G trials in line with the tradition of excellence and operational efficiency at the NCC.
The Chairman, Board of Directors at MTN, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, said: “As at 2001, Nigeria was lagging behind counties like Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Tunisia, who were already having 2G services in their countries at a time Nigeria was still deploying analogue mobile service and the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology, but today, Nigeria has overtaken these countries with the deployment of 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G technologies.
“It is my belief that once we have the enabling environment, service providers like MTN will take charge of further national development, through the provision of services from emerging technologies. With the MTN 5G demo trial, the issue of security will be addressed and rules of engagement will be provided by the regulator, in line with the aspirations of the country in the area of technology development.”
The successful 5G trial was in collaboration between the Ministry of Communications Technology and Digital Economy, the Nigerian Communications Commission, MTN, Huawei, ZTE and Ericsson.
Highlighting the importance of collaboration, the Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Mr. Ferdi Moolman, said, “Pushing boundaries is easier when your aspirations are supported by likeminded people. We appreciate the support and guidance of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission who provided the trial spectrum used for the trial demo.”
Chief Operating Officer, MTN Nigeria, Mazen Mroue, said: “In collaboration with our technical partners and the support of the Federal Government, we are proudly putting Nigeria on the 5G technology map. As we continue to invest in technology solutions to meet the wide needs of our customers, MTN will continue to strengthen these partnerships as we move to build our 5G capacity in future, guided by the standards and spectrum set by the Nigerian Communications Commission.”