Lagos-based telecommunications company Airtel has commenced the rollout of its fifth generation (5G) network in Nigeria, beginning with four locations: Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, and Abuja. Airtel aims to achieve nationwide coverage by the end of the current financial year, which typically concludes on March 31. To access the innovative service, subscribers must possess a 5G compatible device and be within the coverage area.
During the unveiling event held in Lagos, Airtel introduced a non-standalone version of its 5G network, which the company claims offers superior service delivery. Promising speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G, ultra-low latency, and increased network capacity, Airtel’s 5G launch follows its acquisition of 100MHz of spectrum in the 3500MHz band and 2x5MHz of 2600MHz spectrum from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for $316.7 million six months ago.
Airtel, boasting 60 million subscribers and a 27% market penetration rate in Nigeria as of April, intends to leverage the spectrum purchase to enhance its 4G network quality and introduce 5G technology. Additionally, the operator renewed its 3G license in May, extending its validity until 2032.
Carl Cruz, CEO of Airtel Nigeria, emphasized that the advent of 5G represents a significant leap from 4G, as it unlocks new possibilities. Cruz expressed optimism, stating that life will become more interesting and convenient with the new technology. He also highlighted the potential for collaboration among telecom stakeholders to explore innovative applications of artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, and smart cities facilitated by 5G.
Cruz expressed gratitude towards the NCC, acknowledging the organization’s role in enabling Nigeria to become one of the first 60 countries to launch 5G services. He further added, “Airtel Nigeria is proud to be an early mover with 5G technology, not just in Africa but all over the world. Thanks to the commitment of the Nigerian government, 5G became a reality early in Nigeria when only about 60 countries had access worldwide. In addition to that, the frequency spectrum band allocated to 5G will make the experience more worthwhile for consumers.”
Femi Oshinlaja, Airtel Nigeria’s Chief Commercial Officer, shed light on the company’s strategy to make 5G more accessible to Nigerians. Airtel is offering its 5G router at a price of N30,000 and has partnered with Samsung to provide the Galaxy A14 model at an affordable rate. Oshinlaja assured customers that although 5G technology is expected to consume more data due to increased speed and lower latency, the rates and prices of data will remain unchanged. Airtel aims to ensure that a larger segment of the Nigerian population can benefit from this transformative technology.