2.7m Nigerians access 5G services as 50 operators plan non-terrestrial deployment

2.7m Nigerians  access 5G services as 50 operators plan non-terrestrial deployment

Some 2.7 million Nigerians are currently on the radar of telecommunications operators offering the Fifth Generation (5G) network in the country.

Latest subscription statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that as of the first quarter of 2023, 5G penetration hit 1.24 per cent.

According to the regulator, the total number of active mobile connections in the country stood at 219 million as of March. This means that of the 219 million active connections, the 1.24 per cent 5G connections indicate that about 2.7 million Nigerians have subscribed to the latest technology.

As of December 2023, 5G penetration in the country stood at 1.04 per cent. This increased to 1.11 per cent in January 2024 and 1.18 per cent in February.

Recall that almost two years into the launch of the technology in Nigeria, MTN, Airtel and Mafab Communications currently offer the service.

MTN puts 5G penetration on its network at 12.4 per cent, up by 1.2 percentage point with spread across the country, and total data traffic on the network hitting 6.4 per cent.

Airtel, last year, rolled out the service in four states, including Lagos, Abuja, Rivers and Ogun, with plans to extend across the federation this year, while Mafab claimed a presence in Lagos and Abuja.

The NCC said most telephone connections in Nigeria were still on 2G as of March this year. The industry data showed that 2G accounted for 56.9 per cent of all connections in Nigeria at the end of the month.

NCC’s statistics showed that 9.04 per cent of the 219 million subscriptions were on 3G, a higher generation of network launched in Nigeria in 2007.

The commission observed that subscriptions for 4G, which the operators started rolling out in 2016, remained at 32.74 per cent as of March.

In a related development, 50 operators in 37 countries and territories are planning satellite services, with 10 operators already commercially launched

Satellites are rapidly gaining prominence in the world of cellular communication, while the full extent of their potential to complement terrestrial networks, as well as phone services and broadband is still unclear, according to the latest GSA report Non-Terrestrial 5G Networks and Satellite Connectivity.

By the end of March, GSA had identified 77 publicly announced partnerships between operators and satellite vendors across 43 countries and territories. In total, 50 operators in 37 countries and territories have planned satellite services, with nine operators in nine countries and territories currently evaluating, testing or trialing these.

“Now, 10 operators in 10 countries and territories have commercially launched satellite services, an increase of two operators since the previous update in August 2023,” it stated.

GSA has recorded 34 countries and territories that are planning, evaluating and testing or have launched satellite broadband services. Of these, Timor-Leste is the latest to have launched services, joining the UK, Mexico, Japan, Papua New Guinea and the United Arab Emirates. Five more are currently evaluating, testing or trialing them and 26 are in the planning stages.

President of Global Mobile Suppliers Association, Joe Barrett, commented: “The number of operators and satellite provider partnerships will grow over the coming months and years. The rate at which partnerships launch their services will also increase. This is already evident in the continuing growth in launched broadband satellite services over the past four months, with the current majority in the planning phase. The increasing need for broadband, voice and data services and satellite-to-cellphone technology will see more and more operators expanding to cater to people in rural areas, as well as in the event of natural disasters affecting terrestrial networks. As a result, GSA expects to see more countries with satellite service offerings soon.”

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