Nigeria: Eight Months After Winning Licence, MTN Rolls Out 5G Today

Having won the 3.5GHz spectrum licence for 5G network rollout since December last year, coupled with the issuance of 5G spectrum licence in May this year, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited is set to roll out its 5G network today.

The Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Karl Toriola had said MTN was ready for rollout, having the required 5G equipment on ground.

A source close to MTN Nigeria, however told THISDAY that MTN kept to its promise by commencing the rollout of its 5G network today from Lagos and Abuja, with plans to cover five cities within one month of rollout. The cities include Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Kano.

Owing to the development, MTN has called on telecom subscribers to begin pre-order of their 5G devices to enable them enjoy the high speed internet download with low latency that are associated with 5G, since not all devices can access 5G network.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had given MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and Mafab Communications Limited up till today to begin commercial rollout of their 5G networks across the country. But Mafab Communications Limited appears missing from the rollout plan for technical reasons, thereby leaving only MTN to begin the race.

Mafab Communications in a statement this week, had said the NCC issued it a 5-month extension period for its roll out.

MTN and Mafab, had in December 2021, won the 3.5GHz Spectrum band for 5G license and the NCC had given both operators up till August 24, to rollout 5G technology services across the country.

The Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka, who confirmed the 5-month extension given to Mafab, told THISDAY that NCC decided to extend the rollout date for Mafab alone, because the company does not have operating licence to roll out 5G network.

“The 5G licence comes with frequency licence and not operational licence. So Mafab only has frequency licence and does not have operational licence and it needs to apply for a telecom operational licence to enable it roll out 5G services and other telecom services.

“The five months extension will enable Mafab to process its telecom operational licence” Muoka said.

THISDAY gathered that Mafab was issued extension following the delays in receiving its unified operational license (USAL) and Numbering plan, which did not happen until the end of July.

Some industry stakeholders who are worried about the development, questioned the rationale for the NCC to allow Mafab to bid for 5G licence, when it has no telecom operational licence, a development, which they said, would slow down 5G network rollout in the country.

A telecom operator who pleaded anonymity, said it was wrong for NCC to have allowed Mafab Communications Limited to bid for 5G spectrum licence.

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