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2.3m 5G subscriptions as of Dec. 2023–NCC

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By Abraham Adekunle

It constitutes approximately 1.04% of overall active teleservice subscriptions.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) recently unveiled compelling data shedding light on the burgeoning adoption of 5G technology in Nigeria. As of December 2023, the nation boasted an impressive 2.3 million 5G subscriptions, marking a significant stride towards embracing the next generation of telecommunications. Despite this remarkable achievement, 5G subscriptions accounted for a modest 1.04% of Nigeria’s total active telephone service subscriptions, which stood at a formidable 224.7 million by the end of 2023. This statistic underscores the gradual yet promising uptake of 5G technology among Nigerian consumers.

Leading the charge in Nigeria’s 5G deployment are major mobile network operators such as MTN, Airtel, and Mafab Communications. These industry giants have spearheaded the expansion of 5G services nationwide, leveraging their expertise and infrastructure to usher in a new era of connectivity. However, challenges persist, with the elevated costs of 5G-enabled devices posing a significant barrier to widespread adoption. The Chief Technical Officer of MTN Nigeria, Mohammed Rufai, emphasized the importance of addressing device compatibility issues, highlighting their impact on operators’ strategies.

Key players and challenges and current telecommunications sector.

As a result, maintaining legacy networks such as 2G and 3G remains essential to ensure seamless connectivity for all consumers. Delving deeper into Nigeria’s telecommunications landscape, the NCC’s data reveals intriguing insights. While 5G subscriptions represent a promising segment, the majority of telephone connections in the country still rely on 2G technology, comprising a substantial 57.84% of all connections. This indicates that despite advancements, a significant portion of the population continues to utilize older technologies for their communication needs.

Furthermore, 3G subscriptions, introduced in Nigeria in 2007, account for 9.80% of total connections. Recognized for enhancing data transfer capabilities and introducing features like video calls, 3G remains a relevant component of Nigeria’s telecommunications infrastructure. The transition to 4G has been more pronounced, with subscriptions steadily rising to 31.33% as of December 2023. However, challenges related to device compatibility persist, hindering the seamless adoption of 5G technology. Operators must navigate these hurdles while balancing investments in legacy networks and emerging technologies.

Timeline of 5G launches in global perspective and Africa’s coverage.

Beyond Nigeria, the global landscape of 5G coverage reveals intriguing trends. According to a report from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Africa’s 5G coverage lags behind, accounting for just 6% of global coverage as of December 2023. This disparity underscores the need for concerted efforts to bridge the digital divide and accelerate the adoption of next-generation technologies across the continent. Examining the timeline of 5G launches in Nigeria provides valuable context. MTN led the charge with its inaugural 5G network in September 2022, setting the stage for subsequent deployments by Airtel and Mafab Communications.

Despite challenges, these telecom giants are committed to expanding 5G services, underscoring their role in driving technological innovation and connectivity. Looking ahead, Nigeria’s telecommunications industry is poised for further evolution, driven by technological advancements and evolving consumer demands. Addressing challenges related to device compatibility and affordability will be crucial in accelerating 5G adoption and unlocking its full potential. As Nigeria embraces the digital age, the role of 5G in shaping the nation’s future cannot be overstated. Beyond enhancing connectivity, 5G technology holds the promise of driving innovation, powering smart cities, and fuelling economic growth.

Related Article: NCC list of approved phones reached 2,197

By leveraging 5G’s transformative capabilities, Nigeria can position itself as a leader in the digital revolution, driving prosperity and opportunity for all. In all, Nigeria’s journey towards 5G represents a pivotal moment in the nation’s telecommunications history. While challenges abound, the opportunities presented by 5G are vast and far-reaching. With concerted efforts from industry stakeholders, policymakers, and regulators, Nigeria can harness the full potential of 5G technology, ushering in a new era of connectivity, innovation, and prosperity.

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