In January, the adoption of 5G increased to 1.11% – NCC

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The Nigerian Communications Commission data has shown that 5G adoption in Nigeria has moved to 1.11 per cent of all connections in January 2024.

According to the data sourced from its website, 5G recorded a marginal increase from the 1.04 per cent recorded in December 2023.

Despite the slight uptick, the overall pace of 5G growth in the country remains sluggish, underscoring the complexities associated with transitioning to next-generation networks.

However, the data showed that 2G subscriptions continued to dominate, representing 57.78 per cent of connections in January 2024.

4G subscriptions rose from 31.33 per cent in December 2023 to 31.75 per cent in January 2024.

In 2022, the telecom regulator issued the 5G licences to successful bidders on the 3.5GHz spectrum. Since then, a few 5G-licensed telcos have rolled out their networks in Nigeria.

MTN Nigeria led the commercial launch of 5G activities in September 2022, followed by Mafab Communications and Airtel Nigeria in January and June 2023, respectively.

5G has been deployed in several major cities, including Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano, Owerri, and Maiduguri.

Experts said the adoption of 5G in Nigeria remained low due to challenges such as the high cost of equipment, routers, and devices, as well as inadequate infrastructure.

The President of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria, Tony Izuagbe, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the 5G technology rollout needed more infrastructure and more connectivity between the infrastructure.

“There is enthusiasm about 5G. The awareness is there, and operators are getting a lot of requests.

“However, the infrastructure available will determine if more people will push for 5G. You know it is a factor of demand and supply,” he said.

In response to those challenges, the Nigerian government introduced a national 5G policy aimed at ensuring the effective deployment of 5G to cover major urban areas by 2025.

During the launch of the policy, former President Muhammadu Buhari said, “The national policy includes a deployment plan to ensure that major cities across the country benefit from 5G technologies.

“It also seeks to make 5G a major driver of our economy, a catalyst for smart cities in the country and a platform for the creation of jobs that support our digital economy.”

The International Telecommunications Union, a specialised agency of the United Nations, recently revealed that Africa maintained the lowest 5G coverage rate globally, standing at only 6 per cent as of December 2023.

It attributed the low 5G coverage rate on the continent to the ongoing significance of older mobile technologies, particularly 2G and 3G networks. The ITU report highlighted the persistent reliance on 2G and 3G networks in many African countries, including Nigeria, where those technologies offer a cost-effective means of delivering essential mobile services, especially in regions lacking access to 4G and 5G networks.