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Nigeria’s 5G subscriptions rise to 1.24% in March 2024—NCC

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Subscriptions for 5G connectivity maintained a steady increase, reaching 1.24% of the country’s total connections as of March this year.

This is according to the latest industry statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Wednesday.

The data show that the total number of active mobile connections in the country stood at 219 million. Going with this, the 1.24% 5G connections mean that about 2.7 million Nigerians have subscribed to the latest technology.

As of December 2023, 5G penetration in the country stood at 1.04%. This increased to 1.11% in January this year, and then 1.18% in February.

According to NCC, most telephone connections in Nigeria were still on 2G as of March 2024. The industry data shows that 2G accounted for 56.97% of all connections in Nigeria at the end of the month.

Three mobile network operators, MTN, Airtel, and Mafab Communications have rolled out 5G in Nigeria. However, as they continue to invest in expanding the service, several factors, including the high cost of 5G devices, have slowed down subscriptions for the service, which offers the best quality of experience compared with 2G, 3G, and 4G.

While the costs of smartphones generally are high in Nigeria due to soaring inflation, the costs of smartphones are higher, thus deterring many who would have loved to upgrade to a 5G connection.

According to the Chief Technical Officer of MTN Nigeria, Mohammed Rufai, the problem of device compatibility is the reason the telecom operators have continued to maintain their 2G and 3G networks while investing in 4G and 5G.

MTN launched the first 5G network in Nigeria in September 2022, while Airtel launched the same in June 2023. Mafab Communications, which secured the 5G licence at the same time as MTN could not roll out the service until late 2023 when it began to sell its routers.

MTN initially rolled out its 5G service in seven cities including Lagos Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano, Owerri, and Maiduguri and is currently expanding the service.

Airtel at launch in June last year rolled out the service in four states including Lagos, Abuja, Rivers, and Ogun with plans to roll out in six more states within the first year of the launch.

Mafab also launched its 5G service in Abuja with a promise that the first phase of its rollout would be in six cities across the country in fulfillment of the rollout obligations as contained in the licensing document.

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