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NIGCOMSAT to boost Nigeria’s network coverage

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By Usman Oladimeji

The forum assured Nigerians better deployment of the 5G network in 2023.

Amidst advancement in telecommunication technology ranging from countries to countries, the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT) has revealed its plan to launch Nigeria’s second satellite NigComSat 2 into space in 2023. NIGCOMSAT made this known at a stakeholder’s inclusion forum held in Lagos, themed ‘NIGCOMSAT: The Roadmap for Enhanced Service Delivery. Also, this announcement came in as the NigComSat1-R, which is currently being used to offer communication services to customers across Nigeria and abroad, gradually inched towards the end of its life span.

NigComSat1-R, which was reportedly launched into space in 2011 has a lifespan of 15 years that runs till 2026. With the launch of the country’s second satellite into space, NIGCOMSAT assured the citizens of a faster, wider coverage, and better deployment of 5G network across the country in 2023. Dr. Abimbola Alale, NIGCOMSAT managing director, asserts that the country has already begun the bidding process to choose a suitable company that will assume the responsibility of building and launching NigComSat 2.

NCC set to auction additional two slots in the 3.5GHz spectrum.

Dr. Alale further stated that as stakeholders seek partnership, the organization will receive support from the stakeholders’ forum noting that both bodies share common goals and objectives and are key players in the development of the industry. Fiber and satellite technology operators are projected to partner. MTN has become the first telecommunication service provider that has launched 5G in Nigeria, with its achievement of two slots in the 3.5GHz spectrum for 5G rollout auctioned by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2021.

Furtherly, NCC is set to auction yet additional two slots in the 3.5GHz spectrum in December this year. Stakeholders present at the NIGCOMSAT organized forum explains that there is a need for satellite infrastructures to enhance network coverage considering the fact that there are areas and regions in Nigeria where fiber cannot reach. In addition, the forum highlighted three different ways in which telecommunication network service can be deployed which are microwave, fiber, and satellite. Of the mentioned options, satellite is viewed as a viable option to reach the underserved areas given that a speedy network like 5G relies mostly on fiber infrastructure, which is said to be limited in reaching out.

Satellite is crucial to the achievement of 5G across the country.

In the same vein, Gbenga Adebayo, President of the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators in Nigeria (ALTON), reiterates on the challenges facing fiber infrastructure. He stated that in 2021, over 40,000 fibers were cut. Majority of these cuts were said to have been caused by construction activities such as railways, roads, houses, fire incidents and vandalism. Although satellite deployment has been said to be way more costly for services operators to adopt, Adebayo still believes that satellite is crucial for the advancement of the 5G network which has been lacking behind the schedule.

However, considering the recent advancement seen in the satellite industry, Orjinta Anthony Emeka, Deputy General Manager of Satellite Control and Operation, NIGCOMSAT, explains that cost may no longer pose a constraint. He added that in evolution with other telecom infrastructure, satellite deployment is at par with fiber infrastructure. Furthermore, Adeola Ogundele, Technical Director of Crystalfix Nigeria Limited, has urged the government to foster digital inclusion in the country by investing more in satellite infrastructure advancement.

The federal government aims for 70% broadband by 2025.

According to a report by NCC, 30 million people still lack access to the Internet due to infrastructural deficits. As of July, Nigeria’s broadband penetration reached 44.5%. The Federal Government aims to achieve 70% broadband by 2025, which it has taken steps forward with the approvement of an enterprises licensing agreement for Microsoft Products to reduce (IT) costs in public institutions. Ultimately, NIGCOMSAT affirms to provide broadband services to people across the country, the organization will continue to work with other technology providers.


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