Right of way, funding and anxieties over Nigeria’s national elections slated for February 25 and March11, 2023 may be forcing telecom operators to rethink their 5G launch, persons knowledgeable about the matter told IT Edge News in Abuja this week.
According to one of them, “the election is not really so much an issue. It is expected that investors would want to wait out this period before operators may begin to commit to massive rollout of 5G networks. They operators] understand this market very well and have enough confidence that elections come and go with the concomitant tensions but doesn’t significantly impact negatively on business or market the of Nigeria’s.
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“The problem is really local hindrances like right of way (RoW). What some local jurisdictions are asking for as fees before allowing operators to deploy 5G infrastructure is absurd. MTN and Mafad are facing these challenges although the regulator and other concerned stakeholders have been working to address all of these.”
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has issued three 5G licences to MTN Nigeria, Mafab Communications and Airtel Nigeria.
MTN announced a commercial launch of 5G services third quarter of last year but not much has been achieved in terms of rollout and subscriptions raising concerns in some quarters that Nigeria’s 5G optimism may have been unwholesomely embellished.
“Not so,” said a senior Nigerian government official, adding: “the market remains strong and rewarding for investors, operators. A lot of unresolved local issues including multiple taxation and right of way fees have become recurring nightmares for operators and government is not resting on the matter.”
Mafab had planned an August 2022 5G launch but asked NCC for a five-month extension due to a mix of financing and technical factors including delays in receiving its Unified Access Service Licence and Numbering plan.
It started test running its 5G network last Dcember, according to sources and plans to formally commence 5G network services before end of January. The operator unveiled its new service logo days back o signal its readiness to commence 5G commercial launch.
Airtel only won its 5G licence about two months ago when it emerged as the sole bidder for the additional two lots in the 3.5GHz spectrum auction for $273.6m. The operator has assured that its 5G rollout in Nigeria is strategic to its continuous growth.