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4 things we learnt from MTN Nigeria’s 5G trial

Last year, during a ₦200 billion loan facility signing by MTN Nigeria, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Adekunle Awobodu pointed out the possibility of conducting a 5G network trial, following a successful one in South Africa.

True to his words, MTN commenced its 5G network trial in Abuja, Nigeria on Monday, a first for any country in West Africa.

Beyond Abuja, MTN will also be conducting network trials in two other locations in Nigeria: Calabar and Lagos. The network testing in Abuja is powered by Huawei. Calabar and Lagos are powered by ZTE and Ericsson respectively.

Speaking during the trial in Abuja, former Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Executive Vice Chairman, Ernest Ndukwe — who is also a board member of MTN Nigeria — expressed his delight in the fact that Nigeria is one of the countries championing 5G trial on the continent.

Apparently, 5G connectivity requires huge infrastructure investment and according to a top official of MTN, the government will be playing a pivotal role with respect to regulations, as expected, as well as infrastructure development.

Speaking at the trial in Abuja, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami pointed out that the federal government is conversant with the fact that the information and communications technology (ICT) sector is one of the critical sectors of the economy.

To this effect, he revealed that the government is working on an executive order to address critical national telecoms infrastructure.

The minister acknowledged the delay in getting approval from the regulatory authority. In spite of this, he looks forward to a successful deployment of the network.

As fast as the speed of light

During a comparison test on both 4G and 5G networks, it took just 15.78 seconds to download a 2.3 GB video on the 5G network. The same file on 4G took exactly 5 minutes, 3.84 seconds.

While download speed on the 5G network was about 1 Gbps, it can apparently go as high as 4.1 Gbps. According to Dolapo Adeniji-Adele, RF Technical Specialist at MTN, factors like server load, as well as the device contribute to the download speed.

On the other hand, the download speed on the 4G network was just about 68.2 Mbps, which is a little fraction compared to that of 5G. Worthy of note is that the 4G network is on the 2600 MHz band and 5G on 26 GHz.

Unlike fibre optic that requires laying cables, 5G infrastructure basically works on cloud-based architecture.

For the trial, MTN secured a 100 MHz spectrum in Calabar and 20 MHz in Abuja. As, expected this resulted in a significant difference between the Internet speed tests in Abuja and Calabar.

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