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5G investments: Africa holds ace, NCC boss assures global community

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With a large number of 3.7 billion global unconnected population out of which 1.2 billion reside in Africa, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta told the global community that African continent holds the ace and that 5G is the next frontier of investment.

Prof Danbatta spoke on Tuesday as a panelist on the topic, 5G Centre Play at the ongoing International Telecommunications Union (ITU Telecom World 2019 in Budapest, Hungary.

With the representatives of global ICT giants, including Nokia, Orange, and AT&T among other panelists, Danbatta said 5G will provide a very veritable and convincing investment for investors.

He, however, said that government alone cannot do it hence he beckoned on the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities provided by 5G and invest in Africa which guarantees adequate returns on investment.

“We need to look at 5G usage scenarios, and there are 3 of them: The enhanced mobile broadband applications, the ultra-reliable low latency applications and the Machine to Machine applications.

“In our own part of the world, we are looking closely at these key areas of usage scenarios. The one that African countries will subscribe to quickly is the enhanced mobile broadband applications. The reason for this is that, African countries are trying to roll out broadband infrastructure for broadband applications. So this will spurs us on to ensure we put in place the necessary infrastructure,” he explained.

According to him, African nations are trying to reserve the spectrum for the roll out of broadband services.

“Specifically in Nigeria we are talking about three: 26, 38 and 42 GHz. These frequencies exist and we are not licensing it for other applications.

“We are waiting in anticipation for the standardization process to be completed at the World Radio Communication (WRC) in Egypt and then we can see how we can go forward with the licensing processes in the 3 frequencies,” Danbatta added.

Addressing the audience further, the NCC boss said the other important step that African countries are taking is to address new forms of anxiety that is occasioned by this emerging technology, 5G.

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“There’s also the regulatory anxiety. And therefore to do that successfully like we had done in the past with every service we deployed, we start with a proof of concept trial. And preparations are underway for this important trial to take place.

“The whole idea behind the trial is to be able to see what these challenges are. Security challenges, levels of radiation power density, whether this is within the acceptable limits provided for by the international non-ionization radio regulatory agencies as well as to ensure whatever factors that we need to come to terms with in preparatory to commercial deployment of services are identified in readiness for commercial roll out of services using 5G,” he said.

He further told the audience that African countries are currently exchanging information and experiences on what they are seeing, “the promise of the 5G roll out in the area of enhanced broadband mobile services in our individual countries as well as addressing the anxiety of the citizens by giving them the information that will make them receptive to this technology that is already here”.

Official of the AT&T also assured the audience that so far his company has successfully deployed 5G in the United States of America (USA) with no security so far.

Panelists agreed at the session that 5G is not only an evolution but also a revolution and the journey is long complete standardization by the ITU is underway, as everybody looks forward to 2020 when the standardization will take root.

Panelists also agreed that satellite communications will complement terrestrial deployment of 5G services.

ITU Telecom World 2019, which began on Monday, September 9, comes to a close on Thursday, September 12, 2019.

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