Minister debunks license of 5G in Nigeria


…5G not harmful – Stakeholders

By Idris Bakare, Ibiyemi Mathew & Ogaga Ariemu, Abuja

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, on Saturday said no licence has been issued for 5G in Nigeria.

The Minister’s comment comes amid rumors circulating on social media that 5G technology causes COVID-19, the coronavirus disease that has put most of the world on hold.

In a statement, Pantami said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration will never seek technological advancement at the expense of the health and welfare of its citizens.

Pantami noted that the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), “of which I am the Chairman, has not deliberated on or released any bulk frequency spectrum for the deployment of 5G.”

He said a three-month study trial had commenced on November 25, “in order to critically review and study the health and security implications of deploying 5G in Nigeria.

According to the statement, “As part of the study trial process, I directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure that a team of experts, security agencies and other stakeholders fully participate in the trial process and my office also invited these agencies to participate in the trial.”

Pantami said the trial process has been concluded and the study and reporting process is currently ongoing.

“Government will not act on the speculations only, but rather we will take an informed decision on 5G after due consultation with experts and the public,” he said. “I have also directed the NCC to engage citizens on any questions or concerns they may have regarding 5G.

“I wish to thank the general public for reaching out to us on this issue.  We advise you all to remain rest assured that government will always take the welfare, health and security of the public into account while considering the deployment of any technology.” he said.

However, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has allayed the fear of Nigerians over the introduction of the 5G network in the country saying it has non-ionising radiation and would not have adverse health effects on humans.

In the same vein Prof.Francis Idachaba added that , “5G as it is, is not designed to generate emissions at a level that would be harmful to humans and if 5G were the culprit, locations without 5G such as Nigeria would not be reporting this cases of COVID-19.”

Speaking further he said, “to fully deploy 5G operators will have to spend alot more money to cover a given area as more cells are required and will also have to deactivate their existing legacy systems if they want to switch fully to 5G.”

“Users would also have to change phones as our current phones are designed for specific frequency bands and modulation schemes. None of these have happened yet as very few countries have deployed 5G.”

“The issue of radiation is unfounded as if the transmit power of the BTS is increased tremendously to overcome the Pathloss and increase the size of the cells, the transmit power also of the mobile users would have to be Increased tremendously to ensure a 2way communication is achieved.”

“This will mean returning us back to bulky and heavy phones as the transmit power relies heavily on battery power.”

“That also is not the case as we are all still using the same phones and Nigeria has not deployed 5G yet so the assumption that 5G is responsible is not correct. All these coupled with the fact that mobile devices have very strict emission controls and the uneconomic and unrealistic  utilization of very high power BTS makes it difficult for 5G to be a culprit,”he concluded.

The Director Technical Standards & Network Integrity at NCC Bako Wakil stated this during a discussion with a broad spectrum of participants at a special panel session sponsored and hosted by the Commission as part of the Social Media Week in Lagos.

Speaking at the panel discussion which focused on, “5G Networks: Socio-economic Benefits and Challenges” Wakil said 5G is the newest generation of technology which “will bring about transformation in the country in the area of smart city, smart transportation, efficiency in medicine, a lot of automation, and 5G will control a lot of appliances and devices with respect to Internet of Things (IoT). In other words, “the difference between all other existing generations of technologies such as 2G, 3G and 4G lies in speed and data capacity.

The 5G deployment, however, offers even faster speed, high latency and high capacity that will transform consumers and business experiences,” he said.

The Director explained that all communication possibilities within the framework of ITU’s IMT-2020 that enhance extremely accurate and near-instantaneous transfer of large quantities of data are well within the contemplation of 5G.

Such technologies will also make for better experience of virtual realities, driverless cars, drone operations and a spectra of possibilities popularly called the Internet of Things (IoT).

“Generally, there is every reason for people to be apprehensive with respect to the radiation of a new technology such as 5G.

“However, the radiation from 5G is non-ionising. Non-ionising radiation cannot cause adverse health effects in humans. So, radiation in 5G is going to be minimal and not harmful,” he clarified.

Wakil identified the two major challenges to 5G network deployment as energy and infrastructure.

He noted that while the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is coordinating the NCC, the National Frequency Management Council, and the National Broadband Plan should address broadband infrastructure deficits.

The poor state of electricity supply in the country needs to be addressed by other sectors of the economy because that matter is outside the purview of the NCC.

Still on broadband infrastructure, Wakil stated that the NCC, having adopted the Open Access Model for enhanced broadband infrastructure deployment, has licensed six out of seven proposed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) to deploy fibre access in all the 774 local government areas (LGAs) of Nigeria.

Recall, In November 2019, the NCC facilitated the first non-commercial Proof of Concept (PoC) trail of 5G network in Nigeria, which was undertaken by MTN, a Mobile Network Operator in Nigeria.

That trial was done to demonstrate the possibilities of 5G operations in Nigeria, preparatory to the commercial launch of the service by telecoms operators.


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