Beyond the excitement of 5G launch in Nigeria, the success of the 5th generation mobile technology will most likely depend on availability and affordability of devices plus demand
Expectations are high as Huawei, ZTE, and Ericsson power MTN commercial 5G service in seven cities in Nigeria because the network is game changer in terms of higher internet speed, lower latency and greater capacity than 4G.
With approximately 109 million active internet users as at January 2022, Nigeria is a potential market for the latest technology if many mobile enthusiasts are able to access the service.
However, 5G involves more and the devices that support the network are equally high end.
To begin with, 5G operates in a high-frequency with short wave length band or wireless spectrum. Because high frequency waves have a harder time traveling over distance and through objects, the 5G network is be built on small cell site technology with antennas as close as 500 feet or 152.4 meters apart.
What this means is that 5G requires high centration of masks to fully cover an area. So, there may have to be 5G cell at every other building along one street for full coverage.
Furthermore, the cost per tower is also critical. Report has it that a small tower and 5G cell site costs $30,000–$50,000. The cell site will also require commercial power and batteries if the wireless network is expected to work during a power outage. With poor power in Nigeria and diesel high prized above N800/liter, powering high concentration of cell towers is serous cost burden.
When announcing its pullout of 5G race in Nigeria, the Management of Airtel Africa said it could not afford to sacrifice more than $270 million for a futuristic 5G services that is still evolving with uncertain availability of affordable devices and business cases.
In fact, Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya explained that “the business case for 5G across all sub-Saharan markets is evolving … , Airtel will continue to closely track the 5G ecosystem over the next several years, in particular the availability of affordable 5G devices and relevant use cases.”
So, the success of 5G network will depend on the affordability of 5G devices, the desire of 4G users to switch network, and the emergence of businesses that would take advantage of the super fast high speed internet.
Huge demand potential
5G is internet of things or IoT for short. This mean that 5G is to connect anything with IP (internet Protocol) address. It will connect both phones, appliances, car, cameras and just about anything.
According to reports, at a minimum, 5G can support 1 million devices for every square kilometer . This means that within that amount of space, operators can engage the network to connect 1 million or more devices to the internet at the same time.
|Cheap 5G phone||Price|
|Samsung Galaxy A53 5G||$449|
|Apple iPhone SE (2022)||$449|
|Google Pixel 5a with 5G||$449|
|OnePlus Nord N20 5G||$282|
|Samsung Galaxy A13||$249|
|Motorola One 5G Ace||$399|
Good enough, MTN has created a soft landing for its customers to obtain supportive phones. MTN said “To access the 5G network and enjoy its benefits, customers will need compatible devices, such as routers and mobile phones, which can be pre-ordered from its stores.
5G has designed in security controls to address many of the threats faced in today’s 4G/3G/2G networks. These controls include new mutual authentication capabilities, enhanced subscriber identity protection, and additional security mechanisms
However, Chief Project Manager, Digital Encode Limited, Simileoluwa Oyediji said there is need for the government to find ways of reducing cost, especially knowing that operators will spend so much more in deploying 5G across the country.
On the need for security, he said aside the security features embedded in the 5G technology, further care should be taken as cybercriminals are not resting, but devising ways of breaking through the security features. He advised all stakeholders to use multi-layer security architecture, and users to maintain security consciousness, while the government and operators must engage in constant enlightenment campaign to inform and educate the masses.
According to Deloitte in a recent study, “for organizations leveraging 5G, cyber risk will mount quickly if challenges — like a lack sophisticated encryption, decentralized operations or security monitoring functioning to the detriment of performance speeds — are not resolved” .
It added that “securing the vastly expanded threat landscape resulting from 5G adoption will demand two equally important efforts: getting the right talent in place or upskilled; and, leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate areas like security policy configuration, compliance monitoring and threat and vulnerability detection.”
Beyond these, 5G is the foundation for flexible, efficient and responsible business. It opens the way to production lines autonomously reacting to supply and demand, massive gaming and decentralized healthcare system. Demand for 5G enhanced mobile broadband will increase significantly when consumers understand what it is and what it can do for them.
Nine (9) companies are known to sell 5G radio hardware and 5G systems for carriers worldwide. These include: Altiostar, Cisco Systems, Datang Telecom/Fiberhome, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, and ZTE.
When MTN conducted 5G network trials across Nigeria in November 2019 different companies took turn to test their technologies. The network testing in Abuja was powered by Huawei. Calabar and Lagos were powered by ZTE and Ericsson respectively.
It is hope that humanity comes first before profit to ensure 5G works for everyone.