Nigeria’s race towards 5G expansion is gaining speed as Airtel acquires new spectrum capacity through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). The company announced this week that it has emerged as the only bidder for the spectrum license after another company, Standard Network, failed to make a deposit.
Airtel will now pay $316.7 million in local currency for additional spectrum capacity, with the funds supporting investments in network expansion and 5G rollout. This move follows an auction last February which saw MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications emerge as successful bidders with each paying $273.6 million for their respective 5G licenses. MTN then went on to launch commercial 5G services across Nigeria in Q3 2022, established 218 5G sites throughout the country with an average download speed of 470 Mbps and onboarded over 430,000 users during that period.
Mafab Communications was granted a five-month extension by the NCC in August due to delays in obtaining their operational license but were likely ready to go without delay given their commitment towards bringing advanced services such as 5G to Nigerians. However, with Airtel now joining the race, Nigerians can expect greater choice and competitive pricing when Airtel launches its own 5G services across the nation.
The emergence of faster connections speeds such as those delivered by 5G networks brings with it a range of potential applications from video streaming, online gaming businesses and even advancements such as mixed reality shopping and frictionless checkout experiences within the retail sector. In addition to these more consumer-facing benefits though are broader implications for industry: greater availability will lead to more reliable connections allowing businesses of all sizes to become better connected within the digital economy while encouraging more foreign investment into Nigeria’s infrastructure and opportunities for growth within businesses across multiple sectors across the nation.
With Airtel’s acquisition of its prospective spectrum license, it is clear that Nigeria is headed towards greater innovation and widespread transformation – all powered by a reliable, world-class connectivity network courtesy of three licensed operators bringing their resources together in service of an enhanced customer experience.