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Digital Economy: NCC, NigComSat Sign MoU on 5G Spectrum for Nigeria

As part of measures to facilitate the release of contiguous bandwidth in one of the most suitable frequency spectrum bands for early deployment of fifth-generation (5G) Network services in Nigeria, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The development came on the heels of the need to relocate the NG-1R satellite of NigComSat to the standard C-band 300MHz (3.9GHz – 4.2GHz) portion of the band, which is considered more suitable in terms of satellite service offering because of the advantage of cheaper terminal devices for end-users.

The relocation will leave the non-standard C-band 400MHz (3.5GHz – 3.9GHz) a portion of the band for 5G use while the cost of relocating the NG-1R is expected to be offset from the proceeds of the auction of the 5G spectrum.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, said the Commission initiated negotiations with NigComSat to make some adjustment to its satellite operation and release part of its spectrum holding in the band to facilitate the deployment of 5G in Nigeria.

While dropping comments on the initiative at the MoU signing ceremony at the Commission’s office in Abuja on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, the EVC appreciated the leadership of NigComSat “for demonstrating that the interest of our dear country is paramount to our organizational or personal interest”

He said, “Among the Frequency Spectrum bands used for 5G, the C-band (3.4GHz – 3.9GHz) stands out because its balancing point between coverage and capacity provide the perfect environment for 5G connectivity. The C-band is most suitable and appropriate for immediate deployment of 5G services taking into consideration availability of device ecosystem with 60-70 percent of global commercial 5G network deployment currently in the band, thus the importance of this Spectrum for early deployment of 5G services in Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized.

“For optimal 5G service performance, an average of contiguous 100 MHz of spectrum in the C-band is required by an Operator. However, in Nigeria, only 120 MHz of the band (3.4 – 3.52) GHz is available for mobile services while the remaining 680 MHz (3.52 – 4.2) GHz of the band is used by NigComSat (NG-1R) satellites.”

While stating that the MoU will go a long way in making positive impact on the Nigerian economy, Danbatta also hinted that it will offer a new chapter of cooperation, collaborations, and mutual assistance that will further spur the growth of the telecommunications ecosystem in the country.

Dr. Abimbola Alale, Managing Director, NigComSat, said in her remarks that her organization was happy about the collaboration, which will ensure a win-win relationship between both agencies of government as well as benefit the government in its drive to facilitate the development of Nigeria’s digital ecosystem.

“We are happy with this agreement; the Commission has assured us of a win-win engagement which signals a major step towards the development of the Federal Government’s digital economy drive,” she said.

Prof. Adeolu Akande, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, NCC, who was represented at the event by Chief Uche Onwude, a Board member, commended the two agencies for taking a bold step in the right direction to release contagious quantum of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band for early deployment of 5G.

“This type of collaboration is commendable as it ensures synergy amongst agencies under the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and will consequently foster the deployment of 5G and enable Nigeria to tap its full potential like other advanced countries which have deployed 5G technology on a full commercial scale,” Akande said.

The event was attended by Board members and senior management the staff of the two organizations, among others.

 

 

 

By Patrick Aigbokhan

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