Ahead of the deployment of the fifth-generation technology (5G) in the country first quarter (Q1) this year, subscribers must brace to pay more for services provided on the network by mobile network operators (MNOs).
A senior executive of one of the biggest carriers in the country, who spoke on the sidelines of a well-attended forum convened to review the Information Memorandum (IM) for the deployment of 5G at the twilight of last year, said: “It is interesting how enthusiastic people are about 5G. With 3G and 4G, complaints of data depletion are all over the place. The NCC must be ready to attend to the barrage of complaints from subscribers because 5G will come at a premium cost.”
Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof Ibrahim Pantami said 5G will be approximately 20 times faster than 4G, adding that it will open many opportunities for businesses because of the quality of the service while allowing many devices to get connected implying that everything will be connected.
Former President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, said because of the cost factor, if 5G is rolled out this year as planned, it will be in areas where customers will be able to afford its cost.
He said aside from the high cost of the 3.5gigahertz (GHz) spectrum, which will be used to roll out the services, the cost of devices, punitive business operating environment and cost of foreign exchange (forex) to procure 5G equipment will inevitably make end-user tariffs go up.
He added: “If they are going to roll out 5G this year, they are going to roll out where it is affordable because even right now, as we look at the 4G, 3G tariffs, the data plans are geared towards those that can use more data. If that is the case, the more money you have, the more money you can spend, and if you can spend more, the operators will give you a deal that will enable you to access more data for the types of app you want to run. So anywhere in the world, that is the way it works, it’s not only in Nigeria.
“So, in short, it is going to be very unlikely that anyone that can spend a huge amount of money on 3.5GHz spectrum which at the moment and until they pay is $273million, just think about that $273million for spectrum for 10 years, that is $3.7million every year, that is for spectrum alone.’’