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  • Updated: February 26, 2024

Nigeria's 5G subscriptions hit 2.3 million in December 2023 — NCC

Nigeria's 5G subscriptions hit 2.3 million in December 2023

5G subscriptions in Nigeria rose significantly to 2.3 million in December 2023, according to recent data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). 

This number represents all telephone service subscriptions in the country, which at the end of the year amounted to 124.7 million, or just 1.04% of the total.

Three major mobile network operators, MTN, Airtel, and Mafab Communications, have been leading the way in Nigeria's rollout of 5G services. 

Many obstacles, such as the high price of 5G-enabled devices, have prevented the service from being widely adopted despite efforts to build out the 5G network infrastructure.

As of December 2023, 57.84% of all phone connections in Nigeria, according to the NCC, are still on the 2G network. 

Furthermore, 4G subscriptions grew steadily, reaching 31.33% by year's end, while 3G subscriptions remained at 9.80%.

Despite the deployment of 5G infrastructure by MTN, Airtel, and Mafab Communications in major cities such as Lagos, Abuja, and Port-Harcourt, the slow adoption of the technology is attributed to device limitations and the high cost of smartphones in Nigeria. 

MTN Nigeria's Chief Technical Officer, Mohammed Rufai, cited concerns with device compatibility as justification for keeping legacy networks operational in addition to making investments in 4G and 5G technologies.

Nigeria has made progress in the rollout of 5G, but the nation is not without its share of difficulties. According to a new report from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), as of December 2023, 5G coverage in Africa is still the lowest worldwide, at 6%.

In September 2022, MTN spearheaded the rollout of 5G in Nigeria, with Airtel following suit in June 2023. Mafab Communications began rolling out its network in late 2023, beginning with the sale of routers in Abuja. Mafab Communications obtained a 5G licence concurrently with MTN.

MTN launched its 5G service in seven cities with plans to expand, while Airtel started in four states with plans to cover six more in the first year. Mafab Communications promised that, in order to fulfil its licencing requirements, it would launch its 5G service in six cities throughout Nigeria.

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