Saturday, May 08, 2021

5G Marriage: Import of MoU between NCC, NigComSAT - ITREALMS

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A genuine reason to celebrate for what most industry stakeholders tagged ‘5G Marriage’ emerged within the week between the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSAT) with signing of a Memorandum of Understanding as part of digital cooperation, writes REMMY NWEKE.
Preamble:

The nation was overflowing with the news of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, which symbolizes a marriage between the two agencies of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMoCDE).



Precisely, 
ITREALMS reports, this marriage ceremony was held on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 and of course, well attended by relevant stakeholders, exclusively across telecommunications and satellite community in the country, to facilitate the release of a contagious bandwidth for the much-talked about Fifth Generation (5G) in the country.

What is in MoU?
So, what is in MoU? According to experts at Investopedia, “A memorandum of Understanding is a document that describes the broad outlines of an agreement that two or more parties have reached. It also communicates the mutually accepted expectations of all of the parties involved in a negotiation. Though not legally binding, 
ITREALMS gathered that MOU often signals that a binding contract is imminent and in this instance is all about how 5G will be delivered to teeming telecommunications subscribers in Nigeria., which active lines at present is about 192,081,282, while connected lines stood at 298,823,195.

Whereas Laura Worrad at LawPath, outlined some five benefits of using an MoU to strengthen relationship among corporates. These benefits include the establishment of a common intention; As with any business dealing, it is paramount that both parties understand each other’s goals and objectives. She also posited that MoU reduces the risk of uncertainty; records prior agreements; aids ease of ending engagements; and provides a framework for future dealings.

Propelling early 5G deployment for Nigerians:
On the word of EVC at the ceremony, the MoU would facilitate the release of contiguous bandwidth in one of the most suitable Frequency Spectrum band(s) for early deployment of fifth Generation Network (5G) services in the largest market in sub-Saharan Africa.

He explained that amongst the Frequency Spectrum bands allocated to 5G by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) includes the C-band (3.4GHz - 3.9GHz) which stands out because its balancing point between coverage and capacity provides the perfect environment for 5G connectivity.

“The C-band is most suitable and appropriate for immediate deployment of 5G services taking into consideration availability of device ecosystem with 60-70% of global commercial 5G network deployment currently in the band, thus the importance of this Spectrum for early deployment of 5G services in Nigeria cannot be over emphasized,” he declared.

Optimising 5G services:
For optimal 5G service performance, Danbatta pointed out that an average of contiguous 100 MHz of spectrum in the C-band is required by an operator. Stressing that however in Nigeria, only 120 MHz of the band (3.4 – 3.52) GHz is available for mobile services while the remaining 680 MHz (3.52 – 4.2) GHz of the band is used by NigComSat (NG-1R) satellites.

ITREALMS gathered that the Commission initiated negotiation with NIGCOMSAT whom in their estimate could make some adjustment to its satellite operations and release part of its spectrum holding in the band to facilitate the deployment of 5G in Nigeria. “The impeccable team at NigComSat proved us right,” he declared.

National Interest paramount:
In addition, he commended the management of the NigComSat under the distinguished leadership of Dr. Ms Abimbola Alale for demonstrating that the interest of the country is paramount to “our organizational or personal interest,” he said. Underlining the fact that the two agencies have been in discussions on how to relocate the operations of NG-1R to the standard C-band 300MHz (3.9GHz – 4.2GHz) potion of the band, which he said is more suitable in terms of satellite service offering because end-user terminal are cheaper there, while leaving the non-standard C-band 400MHz (3.5GHz – 3.9GHz) portion of the band for 5G use.

“The cost of relocating the NG-1R is expected to be offset from the proceeds of the auction of the 5G Spectrum,” he said, pointing out “It is my believe that the impact of this decision knows no bounds and will not only strengthen the relationship between both agencies but would also go a long way in making positive impact on the Nigerian economy.”

Danbatta emphasized that the use of C-band spectrum for 5G services in Nigeria, would propel early 5G deployment for the industry in the most-populated nation on the continent, describing the MoU as historical, he said it would facilitate the release of contiguous bandwidth in one of the most suitable Frequency Spectrum band(s) for early deployment of fifth Generation Network (5G) services in the largest market in sub-Saharan Africa.

Amongst the frequency spectrum bands allocated to 5G by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Danbatta explained, includes the C-band (3.4 GegaHertz (GHz) - 3.9GHz) which stands out because its balancing point between coverage and capacity provides the perfect environment for 5G connectivity.

Understanding Hertz computation:
ITREALMS reports that in computation, 1 Gigahertz equals to 1000 Megahertz, so Gigahertz is a unit of frequency equal to one billion hertz as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary. The hertz on the other hand is defined as one cycle per second according to the International Committee for Weights and Measures which defined the second as "the duration of 9192631770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom. The hertz, ITREALMS equally gathered is named after the German physicist Heinrich Hertz (1857–1894); who contributed significantly to the scientific study of electromagnetism.

Why C-band for 5G commercialization?
For Danbatta, “the C-band is most suitable and appropriate for immediate deployment of 5G services taking into consideration availability of device ecosystem with 60-70 per cent of global commercial 5G network deployment currently in the band, thus the importance of this Spectrum for early deployment of 5G services in Nigeria cannot be over emphasized.”

He pointed out that for optimal 5G service performance, an average of contiguous 100 MHz of spectrum in the C-band is required by an operator, stressing that however in Nigeria, only 120 MHz of the band (3.4 – 3.52) GHz is available for mobile services, while the remaining 680 MHz (3.52 – 4.2) GHz of the band is used by NigComSat (NG-1R) satellites.

Also, 
ITREALMS gathered that the Commission had initiated negotiation with NIGCOMSAT whom in their estimate could make some adjustment to its satellite operation and release part of its spectrum holding in the band to facilitate the deployment of 5G in Nigeria. And Danbatta affirmed, “The impeccable team at NigComSat proved us right.” Just as he commended the NigComSAT management led by Dr. Abimbola Alale for demonstrating that the interest of the country is paramount to “our organizational or personal interest.”

Signal of major step:
As said by Prof. Danbatta “The cost of relocating the NG-1R is expected to be offset from the proceeds of the auction of the 5G Spectrum,” pointing out on the reason the two agencies have developed an MOU detailing all the aspect of this undertaking, expressing the believe that the impact of this decision knows no bounds and will not only strengthen the relationship between both agencies but will also go a long way in making positive impact on the Nigerian economy. In addition to offering a new chapter of cooperation, collaborations and mutual assistance that will further spur the growth of the telecommunications ecosystem in the country.

In her remarks, the Managing Director of NigComSat, Dr. Alale, said her organisation was happy about the collaboration, which will ensure a win-win relationship between both agencies of government as well as benefit the government in its drive to facilitate the development of Nigeria’s digital environment. “We are happy with this agreement; the Commission has assured us of a win-win engagement which signals a major step towards the development of the Federal Government’s digital economy drive,” she said.

Applause for Danbatta, Alale:
Earlier, the Chairman, Board of Commissioners, Prof. Adeolu Akande, who was represented by a board member, Chief Uche Onwude, applauded the two agencies for taking a bold step in the right direction to release contagious quantum of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band for initial deployment of 5G.

According to Akande, “this type of collaboration is commendable as it ensures synergy amongst agencies under the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and will consequently foster the deployment of 5G and enable Nigeria to tap its full potential like other advanced countries which have deployed 5G technology on a full commercial scale.”

He applauded their efforts in taking an informed decision in national interest which will consequently foster the deployment of 5G and enable Nigeria tap its full potential, noting that precisely from the last quarter of 2019, several administrations globally begun to license spectrum for commercial deployment of 5G. “As we speak today, 5G services have already been deployed in United States of America, South Korea, United Kingdom, China, South Africa, Kenya and many more,” he said, maintaining that this type of collaboration seeks to ensure synergy amongst agencies.

Summary:
Although as at the time of this report, 
ITREALMS gathered that over 30 per cent of the countries globally now have 5G including China, United States, South Korea and United Kingdom (UK). It was equally gathered that about 192 mobile network operators in 81 countries have deployed 5G networks, while its feature cannot be overemphasized, which include lower latency, higher capacity, and increased bandwidth compared to Fourth Generation (4G). These, experts at Intel Technologies said, would see to network improvements which in turn will have far-reaching impacts on how people live, work, and play all over the world.

Historically, the first country to adopt 5G on a large scale was South Korea, in April 2019, while some 18 African countries are still testing as at May 2021 including Nigeria. However, industry observers opined that Nigeria must work towards migrating from testing to deployment. This in essence is what this 5G marriage between NCC and NigComSAT tends to achieve with the recent signing of the MoU.

Like chairman Akande applauded, this kind of collaboration also known as ‘digital cooperation’ is a commendable milestone as Nigerians mostly telecom subscribers look forward to ensure deployment so as not to leave anyone behind as technologies evolve.

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