Mafab Communications Limited, the underdog telecommunication company that secured a 5G license from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in December 2021, has launched the high-speed network in Lagos, barely 48 hours after it unveiled the service in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Technext earlier reported that Mafab would roll out its 5G network services and unveil its brand logo to the public this week in Abuja and Lagos. True to its words, the company held a launch event in Abuja on Tuesday, which saw the attendance of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, and the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta.
On Thursday, the company held another event in Lagos to launch its 5G mobile service, Mcom, formally. In the first phase of the rollout, in line with the obligations of the licensing document, Mafab will deploy the service in six Nigerian cities: Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kano and Kaduna.
“MCOM 5G launch marks the beginning of immense opportunities for the country to achieve its infinite capabilities for the purpose of a digital future. As the second operator to launch 5G in Nigeria, MCOM expects more coverage for Nigeria and acceleration of broadband services,” Chairman/Founder of Mafab Communications, Dr Mushabu Muhammadu Bashir, said at the launch in Lagos.
“5G network will usher in a wide array of business opportunities, wherein various business outfits will expand their frontiers with operational ease and speed, especially in the fields of education, medical sciences, engineering, security, businesses like the banking sector, SMEs, smart cities, transportation, entertainment.”
Also speaking at the event, Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, represented by the State Commissioner of Science and Technology, Hakeem Fahm, noted that the launch of the MCOM 5G service taps into the potential of the booming tech ecosystem in Lagos.
“An underpinning tenet of development of new telecommunication protocols such as 5G network is a committed focus on research and development. 5G, in many respects, built and improved on 4G technology with many applications and use cases in the Internet of Things, remote and distance learning, more efficient medical services, potentials in rural connectivity and the development of self-driving cars,” the governor said.
While 5G holds great promises for the country and boosts the digital economy, the road to its full adoption appears bumpy. According to a report by Alliance for Affordable Internet, about 88% of Nigerians lack access to a 4G internet connection. Nigeria’s broadband penetration stood at 45.55% as of October 2022.
But Mafab remains optimistic about deploying the 5G network, as it plans to announce where customers can sign up for its services in the coming days.
Mafab: from underdog to major player
For a private company registered in July 2020, Mafab’s entry into the race to deploy the 5G network had caused raised eyebrows, with people questioning the rationale behind issuing the license to a newbie in the Nigerian telecommunications space. It was a surprise to many people that the new entrant could afford the $273.6 million bid price in an auction that Airtel, a telco giant, dropped out from.
Mafab, alongside MTN Nigeria, won the 5G 3.5GHz spectrum auction conducted by the Commission in December 2021. However, the company had to wait this long before rolling out the 5G services because it did not receive the unified operational license and numbering plan until July, causing the NCC to grant the company a 5-month extension to fulfil its rollout obligation.
But Mafab has beaten the telecom regulator’s deadline with the rollout of the service on Tuesday. The company will face competition from MTN — which already rolled out 5G in the country — and Airtel, which recently acquired the 5G spectrum.
Read also: Airtel secures 5G spectrum
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