By Chinenye Anuforo
MTN Nigeria today launched the fifth generation network (5G) in Lagos with a promise to kick off national launch in Abuja soonest.
Speaking to stakeholders during the commercial launch at its headquarters, the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Karl Toriola said the company has switched on 5G network in six geo-political zones with about 223 sites which are being accelerated very fast.
He said, “We started with approximately 223 sites, but we actually think that we are going to move extremely fast. So, you are going to see rapid expansion of 5G coverage across the country in the coming months and years.”
He promised that the same vigour MTN gave in deploying services in second, third and fourth generation networks is what will be applied in the 5G technology to make it massively accessible to majority of users particularly in major urban cities in the coming weeks and months.
Fielding questions from journalists, Toriola explained that the launch of 5G will not stop the roll out of 4G network. He said 4G remains on the data side and still the company’s bread and butter and investments, deployments for both networks would be done simultaneously.
“4G will continue to take a tremendous amount of our efforts. So as we speak, we are accelerating 4G at a very fast pace, and there is no taking our eyes off the 4G because sincerely it is still quite a small quantity of handsets that are 5G capable, and until it becomes ubiquitously available across the country, most of our customers are going to be using 4g, and we want to continue to lead in 4G.”
He lamented the challenges of getting the foreign exchange to important necessary facilities to help fast deployment of networks including 5G but said as a Nigerian company, staying put to surmount the challenges is part of the prices to pay to get the country back on the right economic stead.
Also speaking at the event, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta congratulated MTN Nigeria for achieving this great feat and assured Nigerians that the launch of 5G will usher in economic growth.
He however promised that the commission will monitor the efficiency of MTN’s 5G activities and will not fail caution where the right practices are not applied.
Also, the Chief Marketing Officer, Adia Sowho giving her remarks, highlighted the evolution of network technology from 2G to 5G. She concluded her address with a speed test demonstration that gave a live exhibition of the difference between 4G and 5G. With 5G you can download at over one gigabyte per second! Talk about speed!!
During the event there were various attractions, starting with a 5G enabled robot that held trays from which guests could pick refreshments.
Guests could play video games like Fortnight and FIFA without any interruptions or internet buffering. They could also participate in a 5G-enabled Virtual Reality exhibition that allowed them to experience revolutionised virtual meetings.
Another use case was the Smart Home. Guests were able to experience what it would be like to control all devices and operations within their home at the touch of a button. They could control the cooling and heating.