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  • Updated: February 23, 2023

5G Technology: The Hype, The Misinformation, The Real Deal

5G Technology: The Hype, The Misinformation, The Real Deal

The euphoria and mixed feelings that followed the onboarding of 5G technology in Nigeria hit an all-time crescendo with the breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic during which all sorts of conspiracy theories flew around.

Today, three years after the climax of Covid-19, Nigerians cannot concretely testify if they are either reaping the positives or the negatives of 5G technology and the hype goes on.

Demystifying the 'G' in 5G

Typically, a network generation is a type of cellular network generally referred to by its number, starting with 1G and going all the way through 2G, 3G, and 4G to the most recently developed generation: 5G.

The G-letter descriptors identify the different stages in evolution time from the launch or rollout of the first cellular version or generation known as 1G.

So, we have:

  • 1G - Analog Voice: Introduced in the late 1970s, the first cellular systems were analog voices. 
  • 2G/2.5G - GSM/CDMA, GPRS/EDGE/IS95-B: The second generation refers to the digital voice systems of the 1990s, replacing analog phones and based on the TDMA and CDMA air interfaces.
  • 3G - WCDMA/HSDPA and CDMA2000; Launched after the turn of the century, the third generation features faster Internet access with downstream speeds up to 1 Mbps and more.
  • 4G - HSPA+: In late 2010, the ITU officially designated HSPA+ as a 4G technology, having previously defined it as 3G. 
  • 4G - WiMAX: Sprint was the first carrier to offer a 4G network in the U.S. using WiMAX technology. It was rolled out to major cities in 2009 but was eventually dropped in favor of LTE. 
  • 4G - LTE: Starting in the 2011 time frame, GSM and CDMA carriers embraced LTE, which offers higher speeds than 3G.
  • 5G: The latest cellular generation began in 2018 and will take several years for nationwide adoption. 5G increases speed but at a cost of deploying many more cell towers when the high frequencies are used (see 5G frequency bands).

5G as The Real Deal

The 5G technology is characterized as follows:

  • Multi-Gbps (gigabits per second) data speeds of up to 10 Gbps
  • Ultra-low latency
  • Increased reliability
  • Massive network capacity
  • Increased availability

With these superlative performance metrics, 5G will drive innovation across every sector and industry and also transform everything, as we know it. 

5G in Nigeria: Experiences and Expectations

What does 5G mean for Nigerians? How will 5G enhance user experience (UX) in terms of cellular usage?

How can software developers describe to laymen how 5G dwarfs earlier generations in performance? 

How will 5G positively transform the lives of Nigerians in ways that speak for themselves?

Theoretically, the envisaged technical capacities of 5G will drive digital economy, IoT, metaverse, cryptoverse, optimize banks' USSD transactions, enable downloading and uploading of data at killer speeds, and a lot more, but in reality, Nigerians are yet to begin savoring the 5G experience.

Moreover, from experience, the leading cellular giant in Nigeria, MTN, currently provides services layered on 2G, 3G, and 4G with 4G clearly offering the most optimum. 5G is yet to be reflected on their service bouquets.

MTN is being used here as a case study because it is the clear leader among the rest.

We can say that there exist concrete efforts by the different players and stakeholders regarding 5G license acquisition and other preambles, however, the implementation is yet to be seen.

If it is, it's not pervasive yet.

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