Although Nigeria joined South Africa and Kenya in deploying the Fifth-Generation (5G) network on August 24 through MTN, an expert has stated that the country needs an additional three years for the network to stabilize.
Ajay Awasthi, the chief executive officer of Spectranet, who made the estimate, blamed the situation on a lack of fiber infrastructure in the nation.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reported that as of the end of 2021, there were 49, 579 towers owned by mobile and fixed carriers as well as collocation and infrastructure firms. It also noted that the operators reported having installed 86,057 kilometers of fiber optic cable and 38,288 base stations overall (terrestrial fiber and submarine cable)
Speaking on Wednesday in Lagos at the launch of a new device called WiTel (a Wi-Fi router and desktop phone combined), Ajay claimed that Nigeria’s current level of fiber deployment was still low compared to the country’s population, which would impede seamless 5G access.
The CEO of Spectranet claimed that 5G was required for its extremely high speed, low latency, and ability to power applications like the Internet of Things (IoT) among others, but added that “more fiber is required to achieve this high speed and low latency.”
“If you look at the number of towers that are connected to fiber, you can see that 5G connection can only be achieved with fiber infrastructure and not with microwave due to latency and capacity difficulties. 5G would be on the towers through the antennas, with backhaul and switches, among other things.
“At this time, Nigeria rarely has any fiber. The majority of European nations have between 50% and 60% of their towers connected to fiber. I don’t think it is anywhere close to 20% of the towers in Nigeria that are connected to fiber, and it might even be less. In Nigeria, 5G will remain a pipe dream unless that is resolved.
According to Awasthi, tower companies have not started connecting their towers to fiber right now, and unless that happens it may be difficult to push 5G. He claimed that the true 5G experience will come about two or three years from now.
Users will obtain it, he claimed, but it will be compromised. Since you are utilizing a microwave, the latency will be high, much like with 4G, yet your speed will still be a problem.
The CEO of Spectranet also pointed out a flaw in the potential of satellite communications to deliver desired 5G experiences, stating that while satellite has incredibly wide coverage and doesn’t typically have problems because it is in the sky, “it also has its hurdles. It costs a lot and has a small bandwidth. Operating satellites is quite expensive. Offering coverage is a fantastic idea, especially in rural locations where you won’t experience really fast speeds. It will be incredibly expensive even if you do obtain it. Although having speed is beneficial, there are still large areas without coverage.
Meanwhile, with the introduction of iTel’s all-in-one magic box, which combines the features of a Wi-Fi router with a desktop phone for homes and businesses, Spectranet has managed to restore the nation’s ailing fixed-line services.
Awasthi emphasized that the new service solves the issue of a landline telephone in Nigeria, where he puts its penetration at less than 5%, and said that it would increase the odds of survival for small and medium-sized businesses in the nation.
He said that when WiTel is initially activated with a seven-digit landline, consumers will receive 100GB and 200 minutes of talk time.
While Spectranet is available in four major cities—Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Ibadan—the CEO of WiTel claimed the service is currently only available in Lagos and Abuja but would soon be expanded to additional cities before the year is over.
However, he claimed that calls might enter the WiTel from different networks around the nation without affecting the availability of data services.