BusinessDay

Huawei, Xiaomi owners are early gainers as MTN 5G service goes live

Nigerians who own Huawei and Xiaomi handsets are favourites among those able to use the newly launched 5G service by Nigeria’s leading telecommunications provider MTN.

The so-called Fifth Generation service went live Wednesday at 190 sites operated by MTN across the country but mainly in Lagos and Abuja, BusinessDay learnt.

Huawei and Xiaomi are both made by Chinese handset manufacturers, and they are apparently primed to receive 5G signals while subscribers carrying Samsung handsets may have to wait for 4-6 weeks for the system upgrade required before they can engage the 5G network in Nigeria.

Owners of iPhone made by Apple have a longer wait time of 2-3 months for the same upgrade to happen.

Wednesday’s launch by MTN comes on the same day that the National Communications Commission, NCC had set aside as the date of official authorization for the roll out of the service. By October, the MTN 5G service would be operating at 500-600 sites across Nigeria.

By Wednesday morning only a handful of handsets were able to access the service because of the modification and software releases that are required to enable such handsets to engage the 5G service in Nigeria.

While MTN has launched the Fifth-Generation (5G) service, Mafab Communications then other winner of the 5G license has, however, been given a five-month extension for the rollout of the service in Nigeria.

Read also: MTN 5G service goes live at 190 sites across Nigeria

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) handed the August 24 (Wednesday) roll-out date to both MTN and Mafab Communications, after both emerged winners of the 3.5GHz spectrum licence last December and had subsequently coughed out about $550 million as early as February into Federal Government’s coffer.

Recall that in December 2021, after 11 rounds of bidding that lasted eight hours, Mafab and MTN Nigeria emerged the two successful winners of the 3.5gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction for the deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria. The Commission further confirmed that the two companies fully paid $273.6 million each for the 5G spectrum licence in February 2022.

According to Mafab, “in line with the conditions of the 5G licence, the licensees were expected to commence the rollout of 5G services effective from August 24, 2022. However, Mafab has been issued a five-month extension following delays in receiving its UASL and Numbering plan, which did not happen until the end of July.

“We are fully committed to bringing the benefits of 5G services to Nigerians and deploying a network that will drive economic development with increased broadband capabilities nationwide. I have no doubt that the service will help deliver improvements in the fields of education, business, smart cities and entertainment,” said Chairman Mafab Communications Limited, Dr. Mushabu Bashir.

With the launch by MTN today, Nigeria has joined South Africa and Kenya as countries that have formally launched the 5G network on the continent. South Africa began its 5G network journey in March through MTN and Vodacom.

Kenya, on the other hand, started the deployment through Safaricom in April.

Already, the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) informed that around 70 countries had 5G networks as of June 2022, up from just 38 in mid-2020. It stated that approximately 15 more have had 5G mobile technology deployed in part.