On August 24th, MTN Nigeria launched the country's first 5G mobile network, making it the industry leader. After MTN and Mafab Communications won the 3.5GHz 5G spectrum auction in December, they turned on the network in 190 locations across the country to begin the rollout.
MTN Nigeria is currently testing the next-generation network infrastructure in preparation for the launch of 5G services in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano, Owerri, and Maiduguri. In areas where the service is available, users with compatible devices can log in and give it a try.
The National Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria's telecommunications industry regulator, demanded the two companies pay a $273.6 million license fee in February and gave them until August 24 to begin rolling out the network throughout the country.
Previously only South Africa and Kenya had entered the 5G race, but now Nigeria has joined them.
MTN is planning to have 600 operational 5G sites by October, while Mafab missed the NCC's deadline and was given a 5-month extension to begin its own roll-out.
It was anticipated that 5G service rollout would begin on August 24, 2022, per the terms of the licenses granted for that purpose. Mafab's chairman, Mushabu Bashir, said that the company had been given a five-month extension because of the delay in receiving its UASL and Numbering plan (which did not occur until the end of July).
Before winning the licensing bid in December, Mafab was a relatively minor player in the Nigerian telecommunications market.
MTN had begun testing its 5G network in 2019 before it was granted a license to do so. The telecoms provider ran spectrum tests in its offices across the country with the help of Huawei, ZTE, and Ericsson.
Despite MTN's rollout, not all customers will have instantaneous access to the 5G network. Access to the network via mobile device is contingent upon the manufacturer providing the necessary software update for the device. A month is the estimated time it will take for Samsung users to have access to the service, while iPhone users may have to wait until October for the update to be delivered to their phones.
“We are fully committed to bringing the benefits of 5G services to Nigerians and deploying a network that will drive economic development with increased broadband capabilities nationwide. I have no doubt that the service will help deliver improvements in the fields of education, business, smart cities and entertainment,” said Bashir.