5G is one of the most talked about issues in tech in recent times. The hype around 5G keeps getting bigger and bigger, prompting mobile device makers to start releasing devices with 5G capability.
With the #5G revolution, the security of communications networks is all the more critical to the national security of the U.S. and our partners and allies. We must ensure the security of 5G equipment by limiting authoritarian regimes' access to, and control over, our networks.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) February 27, 2019
Yet in Nigeria, talk about 5G has been pretty quiet. And it’s not just because 5G is a technical topic, telcos themselves aren’t saying much about the latest broadband generation.
Now 5G is the next (fifth) generation of mobile connectivity. 5G broadband promises faster internet download and upload speed than the current 4G LTE connection. 5G also promises low latency, allowing for faster delivery of information from sender to receiver. 5G’s architecture is also expected to reduce the cost of internet for users.
In perspective, 4G connection is 500 times faster than 3G. When it launched, it helped to usher in a smartphone generation with faster internet speed, reduced cost of internet bandwidth as well as high-quality video calls.
Mobile downloads are about to get a lot faster, as carriers are racing to start rolling out next-gen 5G service in pockets of the U.S. in the coming months https://t.co/YJd4zSWysS pic.twitter.com/kDcpeHuUH0
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 26, 2019
5G will go way beyond this. It promises download speed of up to 100GB per second, which is 100 times faster than 4G.
Yet, despite all the drum rolls and publicity 5G has gathered over the last few months, Nigerian telecom companies are in no rush to introduce the technology. And the reason is simple: 4G penetration is still low.
It’s been years since the introduction of 4G broadband, yet uptake has not been high enough for a move to 5G. For instance, while MTN has already begun work on 5G connectivity, it says it is in no hurry to introduce it. Last year, the company hinted that its switch to 5G would only come after it has exhausted its 3G and 4G network reach.
“We have to make sure that the 5G compliant smartphones are in the market and that the smartphones are in the right preference, ” says Ishmael Nwokocha, General Manager, Corporate Treasury Finances at MTN.
Even Airtel, Nigeria’s third biggest telecom company, is also following this path. The company recently intensified campaign and other efforts to bring more users to 4G. Getting users to 4G appears to be a prelude to getting them unto 5G when it becomes available.
Nevertheless, the NCC has already announced a 2020 timeline for 5G introduction in Nigeria. So telcos would have to do a lot of work migrating users to 4G so the switch to 5G becomes easy.
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