All is set for Airtel Africa to launch commercial 5G networks for 5G-enabled smartphones and other devices in Nigeria to rival MTN in the country.
TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) gathers that Airtel Africa will launch its 5G networks in key cities across the geopolitical zones of Nigeria later this month.
Recall that Airtel in January announced the acquisition of 5G spectrum and an additional spectrum for its 4G network for a total sum of $316.7 million.
The company purchased 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3500 MHz band and 2×5 MHz of 2600 MHz from the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) for a gross consideration of $316.7m, payable in the local currency.
According to a statement by the local unit of Airtel Africa, the decision is part of its commitment to deepen higher-speed connectivity in Nigeria by way of 5G cellular technology.
TNG gathered that Airtel, barring any last minute changes, is set to launch the 5G networks later this month.
Meanwhile, little is known about the details of the launch. However, a source in the telecom firm, who refused to be named, confirmed: “the launch will happen before the end of this month”.
Recall that MTN became the first mobile network operator to launch a 5G network in Nigeria after NCC auctioned spectrum for the network in December 2021.
Since its commercial launch in September 2022, MTN has rolled out 5G networks in over 588 sites and brought the 5G network to 5G-enabled smartphones, starting with iPhone users.
Airtel gave up an early chance to run 5G technology in Nigeria when rival MTN and little known Mafab Communications snapped up the two available permits at the premier auction by NCC.
While MTN teed off operations in August 2022, Mafab sought a five-month extension from the regulator for its own launch.
Mafab’s 5G rollout was delayed by its Unified Access Service Licence and Numbering plan. However, a source confirmed that the firm has now launched 5G services on some sites.
TNG reports Nigeria is the biggest market of both Airtel Africa and the MTN Group, the parent company of MTN Nigeria.