The AfricaNXT Conference 2022, previously known as Lagos Social Media Week, has ended on a historically impressive note for the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), having drawn the largest attendance and participation at a single session during the conference, where its team discussed the socio -Economic benefits of 5G services.
The conference had scheduled over 200 sessions and about 400 speakers. However, NCC session was oversubscribed as all seats were occupied, while some participants had to stand to listen to the discussion on a topic that patently enthused and electrified the audience, and marked by very rare social networking and participation.
On Thursday, March 3, 2022, the NCC team mounted the FutureNow Stage of the Innovation Pavilion of the Conference to inform, educate and rally further support for the Commission’s strides on the preparedness of Nigeria to deploy the Fifth Generation (5G) network and services .
Using simple, fact-based examples, the NCC’s 5-man panel, provided necessary clarifications to the audience on the safety of 5G technology and gave copious examples about how the technology will significantly impact life qualitatively and bring socio-economic benefits to the citizens, businesses, the nation, and the continent of Africa.
The panel discussion, which focused on, “Moving Forward Steadily: Socio-Economic Significance of Development of 5G Services” was moderated by NCC’s Head of Online Media, Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan. Other panelists are: Babagana Digima, Team Lead, Nigeria Office for Developing the Indigenous Telecoms Sector (NODITS); Usman Aliyu, Head, Space Services; Anthony Ikemefuna, Head, Fixed Networks and Converged Services; and a Senior Manager in the Legal and Regulatory Services Department of the Commission, Dr. Mohammed Suleh-Yusuf.
The panelists extensively discussed 5G technology, focusing on safety, data privacy, the chronology of programs, actions and activities of the Commission towards the launch of the services, including the issuance of 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum and license for 5G deployment, the rollout plans, use cases as well as citing concrete socio-economic significance of the expected services.
The NCC team explained to the excited audience how 5G will power a plethora of applications, innovation and creativity. These include smart cities, telemedicine, Internet of Things (IoT), smart agriculture, driverless cars, bolstering of the security governance sector, among others. The team asserted that 5G is a network of networks because of its huge capabilities, and its derivable benefits can only be limited if humans limit their own imaginations.
The discussants also agreed that telecom operators will reap huge benefits from 5G in many ways, through network slicing, new revenue streams from IoT, industrial applications, gaming and entertainment as well as live broadcast features supported by 5G amongst others.
The NCC team comprising specialists in engineering, law and communications, also said that 5G will power more than a billion devices in the next two years, and this means there will be upsurge in the manufacturing of related user equipment which is expected to bring down the prices of associated devices and equipment. The process is also expected to trigger utilization of raw materials such as rare earth metals that are found in large quantities in Africa, and cities will equally benefit from the 5G enabled infrastructure such as smart street lighting, smart traffic control systems, maintenance services and so on. on that will deliver huge economic gains.
Explaining NCC’s efforts and plans on consumer safety in the 5G era, discussants recalled that the Commission was already working closely with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to develop a Risk Management Frameworks. The framework will grow the need for the ethical hacking skill set and allow the use of ethical hacking as part of risk management towards ensuring the cyber space security during 5G era.
Additionally, the panel informed the audience that NCC had established a sectoral Computer Security Incidents Response Team (CSIRT) to work with the telecoms operators to reduce risks on the cyber-attacks and data breach. The Center, inaugurated in 2021, has been collaborating with the national agency, the Nigerian Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT), towards enhancing the security of the cyber space and privacy of citizens. This strategic collaboration, for which NCC is noted, will now be boosted by the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, recently established by the Federal Government.
While explaining the security, safety and speed characteristic of 5G, the panel reasoned that, while 4G has a response time of 10 milliseconds, equivalent to the capacity of human brain, 5G network is even faster. Therefore, the high-speed feature of 5G will make it unlock greater opportunities that will enhance human productivity for development.
“The latency of 5G, which measures its response time, is 1 millisecond, while that of 4G is measured at 10 milliseconds. While 4G can accommodate 100,000 device connections in one square kilometer, 5G can connect a million devices within the same space, and thus, power the Internet of Things (IoT). Also, the 5G peak data rate is 20 gigabits (GB) per second for download, and 10GB for upload, which is higher than 100 megabytes (MB) per second download and 50MB upload offered by 4G network. ”
The panel allayed fears of health concerns, propelled by “misconceptions, misinformation, misinformation and mal-information”. The panel informed the participants that the apprehension was unnecessary. It cited research-based evidence from the World Health Organization (WHO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Commission on Non-Ironizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), to prove the safety of the 5G network to human health.
The panel explained further that Nigeria can indeed begin to create smart cities, an ecosystem powered by 5G applications. The massive speed of 5G, according to the discussants, will also enhance the capacity of start-ups and other tech entrepreneurs to leverage the enabling environment powered by the fast connectivity, to develop unlimited solutions for the benefit of Nigeria and its citizens.
According to the panel, an enhanced broadband that allows low latency and facilitates billions of connections in machine-to-machine communication certainly holds a big promise for socio-economic growth and development.
When asked if the country was ready for 5G, the panel declared that, “Nigeria is ready for 5G because the NCC has been supported by key stakeholders to make Nigeria ready. The Commission has built the regulatory foundation, the deployment plan has been designed and various exercises have been carried out up to the level of handling over 5G Spectrum licenses to the operators. ”