Mafab Communications misses 5G network rollout deadline

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Mafab Communications Limited missed the deadline to roll out a 5G network, after securing a license alongside MTN Nigeria nine months ago, defeating Airtel Africa in a bidding round.

Recall that MTN Nigeria and its market rival, Mafab Communications Limited received greenlight to roll out the Fifth Generation (5G) network in the third quarter of 2022.

Both companies had paid $273.6 million for the 5G network license following Airtel Nigeria’s inability to further compete for the license.

The y’ello network and Mafab Communications have two years to operate before NCC issues three more licences.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has granted the request, giving Mafab Communications a five-month extension for its 5G network rollout, which means it now has until January 2023.

In a statement, the company blamed the delay in obtaining Unified Operational License (USAL) and numbering plan as reasons for not meeting the deadline.

Mafab Communications received the Unified Operational License and numbering plan at the end of July, making it impossible for the company to roll out the 5G network, which the firm and MTN paid $273.6 million each for.

Chairman of the telecoms firm, Musbahu Bashir said, “We are fully committed to bringing the benefits of 5G services to Nigerians and deploying a network that will drive economic development with increased broadband capabilities nationwide.

“I have no doubt that the service will help deliver improvements in the fields of education, business, smart cities and entertainment. The goal remains to launch before the 5-month extension period and we will be sharing more information in the near future”, the statement reads.

Airtel Nigeria and Globacom will not be able to offer their subscribers a 5G service until 2024 unless they buy the license from Mafab.

Nigeria is already behind countries like South Africa where MTN and Vodacom began the deployment of the 5G network in 2020.

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Keem Abdul

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