5G Technology: Opportunities far outweigh the challenges — Forum

Posted by News Express | 23 June 2022 | 364 times

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Nigeria’s telecommunications sector stakeholders have said that though faced with different challenges in the deployment of the 5G technology in Nigeria, as in other countries, the opportunities far outweigh the challenges.

This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the Telecoms Infrastructure Forum held to ascertain the Telecoms sector Operator’s level of preparedness for the full adoption of the 5G network and signed by the Editor, Special Projects/Convener, Patrick Imo.

The Forum held on May 31, 2022 was organized by Infrastructure Quarterly Magazine at the Sheraton Hotels, Ikeja, Lagos.

The Forum ‘agreed, among others, that for the Telecoms sector to achieve thriving and quality 5G service provision, the country needs to add and extend several kilometers of optical fibre backbone, access networks and base station networks nationwide.’

The communiqué reads: “In the face of Nigeria’s different challenges as they deploy the 5G mobile wireless communication technologies, just as with many other countries, stakeholders of Nigeria’s Telecoms sector - ranging from the Topmost Associations: Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON, the Aviation Sector, Health and Safety, Local Cables (Fibre) manufacturers, etc, have been able to identify some of these key challenges and most importantly proffered very practicable solutions to these challenges.

“These challenges stems from poor fiber infrastructure, stiff and choking regulatory barriers to discouraging investors and provision of other physical infrastructure. Indeed Infrastructure is at the base of growing the 5G network and services in Nigeria, hence efforts at providing enabling infrastructure for 5G in the country require a multi-stakeholder approach to achieve.

“The challenges were identified as: “Multiple taxation and regulation - a clear and present danger in the industry hindering infrastructure deployment and expansion in the country,  is fundamentally attributable to the fixation of state governments on short-term internal revenue considerations than long-term economic benefits of telecommunication development in the states;

“Outrageous Right-of-Way (RoW) charges, difficulty in obtaining approvals and permits, burdensome taxes and levies have been some of the huge burden on the industry and have stifled needed investment in telecommunication infrastructure in the country, especially stifling the entrance and operations of smaller players;

“Insecurity and vandalism of telecommunication infrastructure in most parts of the country lead to the loss of millions of dollars’ worth of investment. Road construction also contributes to the destruction of mostly fibre cables on Rights-of-Way and harassment/extortions by host communities. The sum total of the situation is that operators are discouraged from investments in infrastructure deployment in those volatile regions, further increasing the infrastructure deficit in the country.

“Domestic access to capital in the sector has been very limited. The bulk of capital inflow and investment into the industry has been largely private sector-led. Sources in the finance sector have volunteered information to the effect that of the total commercial loan portfolio of N25 trillion in the finance sector in 2021, only about 5% of this volume of fund went to the telecommunication sector as a whole. It is noteworthy that for a sector that contributed 12.6% to national GDP in the same period with aggregate capital investment of $ 80 Billion, this figure is dismal.

“Dearth of Data Centers and Cloud-based systems with capacity to manage the enormous volumes of data exchange among systems verticals as 5G services require vital infrastructure. Some of these are security, Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and highly confidential data requiring utmost sensitivity in its management. Data management and governance must meet necessary standards of high availability and localization to national boundaries. Therefore, cyber security and secure data management frameworks must be developed to effectively combat the likely abuse, attacks and threats that would target critical national information infrastructure and other digital assets.

“Power supply deficiencies in the country places very huge OPEX burden on the industry. The sector is majorly diesel-driven and the volatility in the global oil market greatly constrains the operational environment making it a challenge to balance the demands for quality of service, carbon emission requirements, network availability, universal access and universal service obligations. Operators in recent times have had to explore off-grid and renewable energy solutions. Power supply still remains a fundamental hindrance to telecommunication development in the country.

“Overdependence on foreign telecoms infrastructure input where local products subsists, Fibre for one with its huge cost telling on the nation’s foreign exchange. Reports from NCC has it that Nigeria with about 126.6 million internet users rates topmost yet has a fibre deficit of about 167,000km. It is gladdening today to note that this all-important component can now be sourced locally what with Coleman’s Fibre-Optic cable factory at Arepo 111, in Ogun State.

“The dearth of master plans for infrastructure locations like road networks, water, oil and gas pipelines new town developments and other such that affect the deployment of telecoms infrastructure, urging infrastructure managers at the Federal, States and Local governments to involve their town planners and other such in these master plan developments to avoid situations of constantly destroying these critical telecoms installations.

“Resplendent in their optimism on the success of the rollout and 5G regime generally, they were in agreement that opportunities abound in the sector and these far outweighs the challenges as identified above, hence all stakeholders, including the fourth estate of the realm – the media, must work assiduously together to ensure the deployment and tear-free 5G Network regime in the country.

“They went ahead to congratulate the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and, particularly the sector regulator, for their efforts thus far at ensuring that the telecoms industry in the 5G regime is set to work towards consumers’ vital health, education and emergency services online, businesses running with friends and families connected. Emphasis was laid on location of Microwave Towers that work on 5G and how it can affect aircrafts and the Aviation business generally. NCC, the sector regulator was applauded for its insistence on not auctioning between 3.5 – 3.8 GHZ frequencies which certainly will not affect the Radar Ultimetre in Aircrafts, its operational facilities and other critical facilities around the airports.

“They therefore urged the government to remain steadfast on its stand on providing the enabling environment needed to unleash the telecommunication and Emerging Technology based Digital Economy.”

Source: News Express

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