The Federal Government has formally handed over the spectrum allocation for Fifth Generation (5G) deployment in the country to the Nigerian Communications Commission, just a week before the NCC’s deadline for winners of the 3.5GHz frequency auction to pay the spectrum costs.
Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and Chairman of the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), presented the official document on the 3.5GHz spectrum allocation to the Commission at a public event held at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on Thursday, February 17, 2022.
Prof. Adeolu Akande, Chairman of the NCC Board of Commissioners, and Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Commission, received the 5G spectrum allocation document on behalf of the Commission.
The Minister praised the NCC leadership for conducting a “transparent, fair, and credible 3.5GHz spectrum auction” on December 13, 2021, which also saw the public presentation of the National Policy on 5G Networks, a document previously announced by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 25, 2022.
Pantami stated that the NFMC, which he chairs, has the responsibility for managing the allocation of commercial and non-commercial spectrum resources in the country while the NCC is facilitating the deployment of spectrum in the country.
Hence, the Council decided to allocate the assigned spectrum for the 5G network to the NCC to enable it to assign same to the winners of the 3.5GHz spectrum auction.
Pantami also stated that the 5G network, when deployed, will bring a lot of benefits and opportunities that will engender accelerated growth and smart living in the country.
He asserted that the technology will bring substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities.
Earlier in his remarks, Akande appreciated the Minister for his efforts in ensuring that every clog that could hinder the successful deployment of 5G services are addressed, thus paving the way for mutual understanding and trust among all stakeholders to ensure that the derivable benefits of the new technology are harnessed timely for the nation’s socio-economic development.
He said the effective implementation of the National Policy on 5G, which the Commission is driving, will help in the actualization of the national targets in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 2020-2030, as well as other sectoral policies designed to enhance Nigeria’s digital culture.
The EVC of NCC, Danbatta, while expressing appreciation to the Minister and all stakeholders for the role played in the emerging 5G network policy implementation initiatives, said the collective efforts of the private sector and government support will make the deployment of the 5G network transform every aspect of the nation’s economy. He was optimistic that the expected transformation will be greater than what the nation witnessed with the 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G.
Recalling the diligence that attended the implementation of the 5G policy by the NCC since the process started in 2019, Danbatta said Nigeria had taken proactive and meticulous steps to be among the leading players in the global digital economy.
“We have been meticulous all the way in our 5G deployment journey, from trial across selected states in the country, to review and stakeholder engagement, to approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), to the 3.5GHz spectrum auction, and up to the official launch of the national policy on 5G network by the President.
Now we have the official allocation of the spectrum to the NCC for onward assignments to the winners. So, the coast is clear for the country to assign the specific reference in the spectrum to the winners, upon announcement of payments,” Danbatta said.
Meanwhile, eminent stakeholders and dignitaries at the event, have commended Danbatta for ensuring a sterling record of transparency and accountability in the sale of the 3.5GHz Spectrum Band allocated for the deployment of the 5G network in Nigeria.
The stakeholders include the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Bitrus Nabasu; the former Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation
(CTO), Mr Shola Taylor; Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Abdullahi; Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone Plc, Prof. Muhammed Abubakar; and the Director-General of National Identity Management Commission, Dr Aliyu Aziz, among others.
Earlier in a presentation on the Benefits of 5G, Engr Shola Taylor, a former Secretary of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, declared that 5G will have a far-reaching transformational impact on major sectors of the Nigerian economy, which will bring about rapid social-economic development of the country.