Feature

Why 4G penetration is still low in Nigeria

• Experts blame poor infrastructure, Right of Way charges, insecurity, others

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) put 4G penetration level in the country at 40 per cent while telecom operators said they are doing their best to deploy the service across Nigeria despite challenges. However, it appears that the awareness among citizens of the need to move to 4G is low not to mention the extent of their knowledge of its benefits.

Some phone users who spoke to Saturday Telegraph admitted their ignorance while others said that their knowledge of it is scanty, yet others stated that their migration to 4G was simply accidental. Gerry Osahon admitted that although he had heard of the 4G network and even the higher version 5G, he really didn’t know their full ramification or benefits and hence didn’t bother to migrate. “I will not say I’m totally unaware of 4G. It is a case of the level of awareness which is low.

I’ve heard that the telecom companies have been creating awareness of the need to move to 4G but I believe it’s not been massive enough. They should go out of their way to enlighten Nigerians of the advantages of 4G,” Osahon said. “Anyway, I did make a move to upgrade to 4G.

I went to the office of my network provider and they told me to bring my NIN, 2,100 which will be used to get a new SIM card for me with a 2,000 airtime. But I couldn’t do it that day because I was told to save my phone numbers and other important documents to ensure I don’t lose them since I’m going to be given a new SIM card.”

Similarly, Olusegun Iyanda said that he was not aware of anything called 4G, adding that it was not relevant to his daily activities. “Mine is to operate my Android phone. Whether I’m on 3G or 4G is not relevant to me. Are you saying I cannot browse on my 3G? I can do whatever I want to do on 3G, so I don’t know what you mean by 4G,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, Ada John said that she was not conscious of the 3G that always appears on her phone network. John said that she had been using Android phone for some years now and that her concern is to ensure she has data on her phone when necessary. “What does 4G mean? Mine is to load card and operate the phone.

You can discuss 3G or 4G jargons with computer scientists or engineers,” she said. On his part, Andy Ehi said that although he was aware of 4G, his getting the G4 SIM card was by happenstance. He said: “I am not sure prior to changing the 3G SIM cards for the two networks that I use to 4G that I was aware of its importance even though I have heard of it but it was happenstance that I changed to 4G the day I did. “This was over a year ago. On that day I had visited one of the centres of Airtel to complain about my internet service that I was having difficulty with.

It was in the process of working on the SIM card and phone that the officer assisting with it discovered that I was still on 3G SIM card despite the fact that my phone was 4G enabled. “He asked why I was still on 3G instead of 4G. Honestly, I told him I don’t know even though I had heard of the 4G system and he volunteered to change the SIM card to 4G after enlightening me of the advantages of having a 4G SIM card. One of the main advantages was the improved speed of the internet and the fact that I could access and download heavy documents with ease. For my kind of work, these were vital especially given the fact that I have been facing challenges with the speed of my internet as the time which was the reason I visited the centre.” He said changing from 3G to 4G SIM card was at no cost to and “I then thanked him for the enlightenment and promptly discarded with my 3G SIM card and installed a 4G SIM card.”

Ehi said the officer advised him to do same for the other network, which he did a few days after. “Since then I have enjoyed the benefits of ease of access and improved performance without the attendance strain and difficulties of the past,” he stated. Shedding light on some of the challenges of ensuring deep penetration of 4G across the country, the Chief Operating Officer of MDXi Data Centre, a subsidiary of MainOne Broadband Company, Mr. Gbenga Adegbiji, noted the low level of 4G infrastructure across the country, coupled with the indiscriminate charges on Right of Way (RoW) by state and local government agencies, pose serious setback to the country’s broadband penetration plan. He said the challenges have been slowing down the operators’ moves.

“Most state governments believe that RoW charges are source of income to boost their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), but that is beginning to change, with the recent intervention of the Federal Government,” he said. The Chief Executive Officer, VDT Communications, Mr. Abiodun Omoniyi, also noted that 4G spread in Nigeria is also being affected by security challenges and threats to telecoms facilities, all of which affect the quality of the services the subscribers are getting. “If one telecom site is vandalised, it can cause ripple effect on other sites that are connected to it. Again if there is a cut on the backhaul transmission cable, it can adversely affect service quality. So we need uninterrupted telecoms facilities, including investments in telecoms infrastructure, in order to achieve faster, wider coverage and better service quality,” he said. Speaking on the matter, NCC’s Head, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Mr. Bako Wakil, said the 4G deployment are in phases, with the major cities as first target. He, however, noted that one of the problems with the 4G service uptake in Nigeria is mobile phone compatibility. “One of the issues with 4G has to do with the device, as not all devices can accommodate LTE strength,” he said.

 

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