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Nigeria in danger of being left behind in 5G disruptions—ITU boss

Secretary General, International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Houlin Zhao has challenged African nations and Nigeria in particular to speed up nationwide broadband penetration which is currently at 21 per cent so as to key into the emerging 5G that will take the world by storm.

In his remarks at the ongoing ITU Telecom World 2017 in Busan, South Korea, he charged African nations including Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Egypt to champion next generation technologies in terms of use and adoption so as to fit into the regime of 5G coming soon.

According to him, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is hoping to complete all standardisation around the Fifth-Generation (5G) networks by 2019.

Explaining more on the theme: ‘Digital Transformation, Global Opportunity’, Zhao averred that countries, especially in the African region must brace up for disruptions that will be driven by 5G revolution as soon as possible.

He made it clear that “The world is gradually shifting from 3G; 4G and focus now is on 5G, which he said would make technology stronger”.

“Though 5G is not finalised yet, ITU is working to improve its parameters and fix spectrum for it. Some countries, including Korea, are already test running the technology; the standardisation will be fixed at the Plenary Assembly of Radio Communications Sector by 2019.

Industry analysts are upbeat that 5G has higher capacity than current 4G, allowing a higher density of mobile broadband users, and supporting device-to-device, ultra reliable, and massive machine communications.

Besides, its research and development also aims at lower latency than 4G equipment and lower battery consumption, for better implementation of the Internet of things.

In his submission, “Countries that are not investing will be left behind as the global mobile connectivity has hit 95 per cent.

Industry experts in Nigeria are optimistic that considering how the country blazed the trail within the space of 16 years by growing mobile connection from 400,000 telephone lines offered by the Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) to 240 million connected lines, with 138 million functioning as active telephone line as at July 2017, there are indications that 5G may not take the nation by surprise.

However, they argue that shocks may not be unexpected if government fails to provide the needed environment salutary for massive investments after all.

Currently, some of the key issues hobbling the sector include but not limited to floorless data price which is drawing back investments and competition and the observed delay in sorting out issues bordering on Right of Way for last mile investors in broadband nationwide.

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