Nigeria made history in the West African sub-region on Monday having become the first country to migrate and operate the 5G technology and applications.
The feat, powered by MTN Nigeria Plc, was the product of a strong collaboration between the Ministry of Communications Technology and Digital Economy, the Nigerian Communications Commission, MTN and Huawei (Abuja), ZTE (Calabar) and Ericsson (Lagos.)
The event, which took place at the MTN Abuja office in Maitama, was witnessed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami; the Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, and the Chairman, the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Garba Danbatta; House of Representatives, Committee on Communications, Honourable Akeem Adeyemi and journalists.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister underlined the potential of 5G for sustainable growth.
“I believe as long as we are able to handle the potential challenges, the deployment of 5G is very critical to our economy, because of so many advantages of 5G, the issue of latency, speed and many more.”
Stressing the importance of an enabling regulatory framework and protecting telecommunications infrastructure, Dr. Pantami stated that on the instructions of the President, he has signed a draft Executive Order declaring telecommunications infrastructure ‘critical national infrastructure’ which has been forwarded to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation for review. The Minister referred to the proposed Executive Order as a short-term measure, stressing that the President has instructed that a proper legislation be facilitated to deal conclusively with threats to telecommunications infrastructure.
Highlighting the importance of partnerships, Ferdi Moolman, the Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria said “Pushing boundaries is easier when your aspirations are supported by likeminded people. We are here today because of the support and guidance of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission who provided the trial spectrum used for this.”
Also key to this achievement are our equipment vendors who shared our vision, and whose capabilities were brought to bear in making the 5G trials across the country a reality. We are grateful for these partners, our customers and everyone who made it possible. Today’s success underlines the fact that we are good together.”
Mazen Mroue, Chief Operating Officer, MTN Nigeria stated that “In collaboration with our technical partners and the support of the Federal Government, we are proudly putting Nigeria on the 5G technology map. As we continue to invest in technology solutions to meet the wide needs of our customers, MTN will continue to strengthen these partnerships as we move to build our 5G capacity in future, guided by the standards and spectrum set by the Nigerian Communications Commission.”
In addition to the bandwidth increase for seamless video streaming or the next social application playground, 5G technology supports real-time, ultra-reliable communication between massive numbers of devices.
It creates vast possibilities in innovation and transformation, and will immensely improve quality of living, as users gain a better experience of services and technology in general – from financial services, healthcare, education, and even public service delivery to more leisurely purposes, such as video streaming services, gaming and even self-driving cars.
“5G offers tremendous benefits in terms of speed, latency (less delays), efficiency and security. This pilot offers a unique opportunity for us to explore use-cases and applications in Nigeria, and we are excited about its potential for our country and our company” noted Mohammed Rufai, Chief Technical Officer, MTN Nigeria.
Following the successful demonstration in Abuja, the 5G-demo train moves to Calabar and Lagos. In addition to which 5G trials will be run in four other cities across the country. The 5G trial will run for three months utilizing trial spectrum allocated to MTN by the NCC.
By working together, MTN and its partner – Huawei, were able to provide a glimpse into a range of 5G use cases and applications at a test Lab designed to show proof-of-concept in Abuja.
Standing alongside former Super Eagles captain, legendary Joseph Yobo, attendees got to match their skills against an artificial-intelligence powered goalie; immerse themselves in a high-speed, low-latency virtual reality gaming world; experience ultra-high speed streaming and downloads on 5G devices; and engage in discourse with life-like holographic projections.
3D holographic communication has potential applications for education, medical imaging, video conferencing and gaming, and requires about four times as much data as a streamed 4K video. That means that 5G is best suited to support this kind of application on a mobile network and to enable its use. It also demonstrates how 5G has the potential to support key socio-economic objectives Nigeria has set for itself, and to be a key contributor to the emergence of a fully digital economy.