Airtel Nigeria Acquires 5G License, to Begin Test Run Soon

Airtel Networks Limited has paid the Nigerian Communications Commission $316.7m for 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3500MHz band for the deployment of 5G network and 2x5MHz of 2600MHz to boost its fourth-generation coverage in the country.

The firm stated this in an announcement on the Nigerian Exchange titled, ‘Nigeria 4G and 5G Spectrum Acquisition.’

According to the firm, the additional spectrum will support its investments in network expansion for both mobile data and fixed wireless home broadband capability, including the 5G rollout.

The Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Africa, Segun Ogunsanya, said, “Nigeria is a market with enormous potential for future growth in mobile services.

“Investment in new technologies and local infrastructure to enable this growth is a strategic priority for the Group and will ensure we are able to provide reliable and affordable services to local communities across the country. 5G is critical to these ambitions, and we look forward to launching new services to drive further digitization across the country, facilitate economic progress and transform lives across Nigeria.”

Airtel’s 5G license acquisition increases the number of 5G licensees in Nigeria to three. In 2021, MTN Nigeria and Mafab Nigeria Communications Limited won the two available lots of 100 MHz TDD slots of 3.5 GHz band.

MTN has since launched its 5G network in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano, Owerri, and Maiduguri. But it is not yet clear if Mafab has launched its services.

As of August 2022, Mafab revealed that it was set to miss the NCC’s 5G rollout commencement date of August 24, 2022. According to it, the commission had granted it a five-month extension to roll out its 5G because of delays in receiving its Unified Access Service Licence and Numbering plan.

When asked if the firm has launched, a source confirmed that the firm has now launched 5G services on some sites and have an official announcement soon.

The source said, “There are some live sites now. Some are in Lagos. There should be an announcement before the last day of the month.”

In December 2022, the Chief Operating Officer, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, said “Mafab is rolling out this month. It is confirmed. They will use existing infrastructure from IHS towers and the rest. They will roll out this month (December).”
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