NCC Releases Draft Consultation Document for 5G Deployment

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has released the draft consultation document for deployment of fifth generation (5G) mobile technology in Nigeria.

This is coming on the heels of the successful three months trial test of 5G network in key cities across the country last year.

The draft document defines the implementation plan for the deployment of 5G in Nigeria. It provides a background into the benefits of 5G technology and outlines the Commission’s plans and strategies for a successful implementation of 5G in Nigeria. It presents guidelines for the relevant areas of the technology and the expectations of the Commission from the operators. The plan takes into account the expectations of all the stakeholders in the communications industry in Nigeria.

The draft document for 5G rollout in Nigeria, envisaged a two-stage deployment approach with the phase one based on the Non-Standalone approach and the Phase two based on the Stand-alone system.

With the assurance that there are no health challenges related to 5G, NCC said the phase one is planned to commence in 2021 and the phase two deployment, which will rely on new spectrum allocations is planned to commence in 2022, and by 2025, the technology is expected to have to covered major urban areas in the country.

The Commission revealed that already there are about 92 commercial launches of 5G networks in 38 countries across the world spread across all regions as at July 2020. The countries, which include Netherlands, USA, UK, China, Canada, Romania, South Africa, Qatar, Australia, have all unveiled commercial 5G technology deployment.

NCC said there would be a clear ambition to ensure that the Digital Economy Policy of the Federal Government is accomplished and one of the instruments for the realization of this Policy is the availability of a robust information and communication network in the country.
The Commission said having identified the unique benefits and the role 5G can play in accomplishing the objectives of the digital economy, it needed to outlined a plan that will facilitate the deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria.

NCC explained that the 5G communication technology remained the next evolution of the mobile communications technology, which is capable of creating new opportunities for growth in the economy by enabling new and dynamic business models and opening up new opportunities and markets. It also provides tremendous improvements in interpersonal communications with several innovations and services.

NCC assured that the Federal Government would provide an enabling environment for 5G deployment, but however, said the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) would determine their own deployment strategies subject to alignment to the approved polices and other regulatory instruments in force.

According to the draft document, “However, the obvious strategy at this time would involve a phased approach. Indications suggest that majority of operators in different markets will opt for a phased strategy, involving a Non-Stand Alone (NSA) approach for the early stage, a hybrid approach mid-term, and a Stand-Alone approach long term. This phase approach will accommodate device availability.

“For the early stage of Nigerian 5G deployment strategy (2020 – 2021), a Non Stand-Alone approach will involve deployment of 5G equipment on some existing sites, supported by densified networks of small cells.

“The mid-term stage (2021 – 2025) will involve a hybrid approach with new-build 5G sites added to the small cell networks. Depending on demand and ROI, this hybrid scenario may be seen by some as a long-term solution. The long-term stage (post 2025) should see Stand Alone networks deployed and will require the largest infrastructure investment.”