The Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT) has stated that once the launch of Nigeria’s second satellite into space is completed, it will offer a faster, more comprehensive coverage and better deployment of 5G network across the country.

The satellite, known as NigComSat 2, is expected to be launched soon, following the near expiration of the life span of NigComSat1-R, which was launched into space in 2011.

NigComSat1-R, which has a life span of 15 years, is currently being used by NIGCOMSAT to offer communication services to customers within and outside Nigeria, and it is gradually coming to the end of its life span.

Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT, Dr Abimbola Alale, said Nigeria has commenced the handing-off of the second satellite and that the process would soon be concluded to get the right satellite company to build and launch a second satellite into space.

“As players within the industry, we are bound by common goals and interests. We must therefore view the stakeholders’ meeting as critical to the industry’s growth,” Alale said.

According to Alale, the plan will likely see collaboration between fibre and satellite technology operators. MTN is the first telecoms operator to launch 5G in Nigeria after winning one of the two slots in the 3.5GHz spectrum for 5G rollout auctioned by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2021.

Last month, NCC announced its plans to auction another two slots in the 3.5GHz spectrum in December this year. However, stakeholders who attended the NIGCOMSAT-organised forum recently acknowledged that coverage might be a challenge given that there are areas and regions in Nigeria where fibre cannot go, hence the need for infrastructure like a satellite to complement it.

President of the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators in Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, said the challenge with fibre infrastructure had remained high incidents of vandalism. There were over 40,000 fibre cuts in 2021 alone. Adebayo noted that some of the common causes of the cuts include construction activities like roads, railways and houses, vandalism, and fire incidents.

Adebayo believes that satellites can potentially deepen the spread of 5G, which he said hasn’t moved at the expected pace.

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