In a development that has raised concerns in the telecoms industry, Mafab, the 5G licensee in Nigeria, has yet to officially launch its much-anticipated Fifth-Generation (5G) network service, despite receiving a five-month extension from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). The extension was granted to allow Mafab to perfect its operations, including obtaining its unified operational license (USAL) and numbering plan.
Earlier this year, Mafab had a grand media launch in Lagos, unveiling its brand logo (MCom) and announcing a number plan (0801), and promising to begin its 5G service in earnest. However, six months have passed since the launch, and the company is yet to make its presence felt in the market.
In contrast, competitors like Airtel and MTN have already entered the 5G arena. Airtel, which secured its license in December 2022, rolled out its 5G service in June, while MTN began offering 5G service in August 2022. The delay in Mafab’s rollout has led to growing concerns among industry players and consumers who eagerly await the entry of another major player in the 5G space.
5G technology proved to be a lucrative venture for Nigeria, with the process generating $820.8 million (N378 billion) during the previous administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Despite the reassurances, some industry insiders express skepticism, noting that since the grand media launch in January, there have been no concrete developments. However, other sources have revealed that Mafab has been engaged in high-level discussions with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), particularly Huawei and Ericsson, to finalize deals and settle payments for telecoms equipment in preparation for the eventual rollout.
The current economic challenges, particularly concerning foreign exchange (FX) fluctuations, may have played a role in the delays and slow deployment of Mafab’s 5G network. Economic headwinds in the country have affected various industries, and the telecoms sector is not exempt. Deploying 5G technology requires significant financial investments, and the evolving economic landscape might have altered Mafab’s financial estimates.
Industry experts believe that, had Mafab rolled out its 5G service earlier, it would have had a more advantageous position in the market. However, they acknowledge that the current circumstances may pose challenges for the company to compete head-to-head with established players like MTN and Airtel, which possess substantial financial resources.
As the telecoms industry eagerly awaits the entry of Mafab into the 5G market, the company’s management faces the task of overcoming the hurdles and delivering on its promise to revolutionize Nigeria’s digital landscape. While the future of Mafab’s 5G rollout remains uncertain, stakeholders remain hopeful that the company will soon make its mark and contribute to the advancement of telecommunications technology in the country.
Source: The Guardian.