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Minister clarifies, as mixed reactions trail MTN’s 5G network license claims

The Federal Government has denied issuing 5G network license to any telecommunications company in Nigeria.

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Isa Patanmi, FG denies issuing 5G license to telcos, despite MTN, Huawei's 5G-demo launch last year

Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has denied claims that a 5G network license had been given to MTN Nigeria Communications Plc.

According to a statement that was seen by Nairametrics, the Minister said no telecoms operator in the country has been licensed to operate 5G network.

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The statement also disclosed that research is still being carried out to determine the health and security implications of the new generation network. Some part of the statement quoted the Minister to have said:

“The National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), of which I am the Chairman, has not deliberated on or released any bulk frequency spectrum for the deployment of 5G.

“No license has been issued for the deployment of 5G in the country. A 3-month study trial commenced on the 25th of November, 2019 in order to critically review and study the health and security implications of deploying 5G in Nigeria.

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“As part of the study trial process, I directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure that a team of experts, security agencies and other stakeholders fully participate in the trial process and my office also invited these agencies to participate in the trial.

“The trial process has been concluded and the study and reporting process is currently ongoing.”

(READ MORE: FG begins N20,000 relief fund disbursement per household in Abuja)

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The Minister went further to stress that the 5G network will not be deployed based on speculation. Instead, the Federal Government will first consult with experts and the public.

Anynyone who has concerns about the 5G network to contact the NCC for information, the Minister said.

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He also assured Nigerians that the government will always take the welfare, health, and security of the public into account while considering the deployment of any technology.

Patricia

The backstory: Some days ago after a report claimed there is a link between 5G network launch and the Coronavirus Pandemic, Nigerians raised concerns. They  questioned whether the Federal Government would revoke the “trial 5G license” that was earlier given to MTN Nigeria.

It should be recalled that in November 2019, MTN Nigeria launched its 5G-demo network in partnership with Huawei in Abuja. Interestingly, Minister Isa Pantami was the Guest of Honour during the occasion.

Possible hidden truths: Pantami had stressed that no frequency spectrum had been released for the deployment of 5G. However, MTN Nigeria had, in an earlier statement, disclosed that the NCC had given it a trial spectrum for a test it conducted in November 2019.

In July 2018, MTN Nigeria announced that it would begin to commercially deploy 5G technology in Nigeria before 2020. Then in 2019, it conducted a demo launch in Abuja, as part of its plan to roll out 5G in other major cities.

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While commenting on the planned launch of 5G across the country, MTN’s CEO, Ferdinand Moolman, had even stated:

“5G will make our life better, drive incremental capacity, and open up new businesses.

“MTN as a company is constantly making efforts to break barriers by democratising voice and data connectivity in order to improve subscriber experience, and has invested over N800 billion in infrastructure in Nigeria.”

Note that a memo from MTN Nigeria, as shared by former lawmaker, Dino Melaye, also indicate that the NCC had provided a trial spectrum to MTN.

 

Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: fakoyejo.olalekan@nairametrics.com.

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Economy & Politics

Output cut: Nigeria leads in OPEC non-compliance with 50 unsold cargoes of crude

Nigeria and Iraq were reported not to have kept to their commitment to the huge production cut deal that had promised to reduce output by 9.7 million barrels of crude oil per day.

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Petroleum Industry Bill to be passed by mid-2020, says Sylva, FG discovers crude oil in north, says there’s more , OPEC, non-OPEC countries to meet as Saudi, Russia price war affects Nigeria’s budget, FG considers fuel price reduction, OPEC deal: Nigeria to generate additional $2.8 billion revenue as FG reacts

As opinions continue to differ on whether OPEC will extend its current oil output cut beyond June, available information has shown that not all members of the oil cartel complied fully with their agreed quotas for the month of May. This is despite the fact that the oil output by OPEC member countries reached its lowest in almost 20 years.

Available data from oilprice.com showed that OPEC members cut their output by 5.91 million barrels per day from the April level, producing 24.77 million barrels per day. This figure also showed a 4.48 million barrel per day of the agreed output cut, thereby representing a 74% compliance level.

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Nigeria and Iraq were reported not to have kept to their commitment to the huge production cut deal that had promised to reduce output by 9.7 million barrels of crude oil per day.

Iraq was able to achieve just 38% compliance of its agreed output cut for the month of May, while Nigeria, which achieved a much lower compliance of the agreed output cut, recorded 19% compliance of what was agreed. Saudi Arabia showed the highest compliance, recording 96% of the agreed output cut.

Some have attributed the noncompliance of some members of OPEC to the agreed output cut, to the contractual obligations and commitment to buyers, given the short timeframe between when the agreement for the output cut was made and its implementation.

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Meanwhile oil exports from Angola and Congo remained steady at high prices on Friday, while Nigerian oil fared lower amid huge inventory of unsold cargoes.

Nigeria continues to face some difficulty in the oil market, primarily due to sluggish demand from Europe; it has around 50 unsold cargoes of crude oil yet to be sold for the months of June and July.

Meanwhile, India has become one of the few buyers for the Nigerian oil. Indian oil firms bought about 5-6 million barrels of Nigerian crude oil last week and has bought about 2 million barrels as at Thursday this week.

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Business News

President Muhammadu Buhari reshuffles NNPC’s board of directors

Note that the former board included the late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari as a member. Stakeholders have since expected the President to reconstitute a new board to take over.

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President Muhammadu Buhari to address Nigerians on Monday, receives update and recommendations from PTF

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the reconstitution of the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) after the expiration of the tenure of the current board.

The newly constituted board members are expected to serve for a tenure of three years, effective immediately. They will take over from the last board, whose 3-year tenure officially ended in 2019. Information about this development is contained in a State House press release that was published on the official twitter handle of the Nigerian Presidency on Saturday morning.

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READ MORE: Construction of ICT Parks nudges Nigeria into digital transformation

READ ALSO: CBN and NIPOST open pilot microfinance branches

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The newly constituted NNPC board is made up of six members from each of the geo-political zones in the country. The members include the following individuals:

  • Mallam Mohammed Lawal, representing the North West
  • Dr Tajudeen Umar from North East
  • Adamu Mahmood  Attah from North Central
  • Senator Magnus Abe from the South-South
  • Dr Stephen Dike from the South East, and
  • Chief Pius Akinyelure from the South West geo-political

READ MORE: Boko Haram: A protracted battle yet to be won?  

Of the six members, three are returning members on the board – Chief Pius Akinyelure, Mallam Mohammed Lawal, and Dr Tajudeen Umar from North East.

Note that the constitution of the new board is considered a welcome development, as it balances the representation of the six geo-political zones on the board. The previous constitution of the board was faulted for not being “balanced”.

READ ALSO: Full text of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 58th Independence day broadcast

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Note that the former board included the late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari as a member. Stakeholders have since expected the President to reconstitute a new board to take over.

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Around the World

Zoom’s market valuation hits $50 billion mark, thanks to COVID-19

Zoom’s share price now trades at an eye-watering 55 times estimated revenue compared with an average of 7 times for information technology stocks in the S&P 500, according to information obtained from Bloomberg.

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Zoom

Zoom Video Communications’ shares surged to record highs on Friday, as bullish runs in the last hours of trading helped the company to close with a market capitalization of more than $50 billion. The stock gained about 9.7% to jump to $179.48, thereby giving it a market value of $50.6 billion. 

Note that this is the first time Zoom’s valuation is reaching this high level since it became a quoted company. The tech giant, which owns popular video conferencing software “Zoom”,  has gained more than 160% this year. This is because investors are betting that the surge in Zoom users amid the COVID-19 pandemic, would eventually translate to long-lasting revenue growth.

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READ ALSO: How VCs are encouraging terrible business practices by founders

Zoom’s share price now trades at an eye-watering 55 times estimated revenue compared with an average of 7 times for information technology stocks in the S&P 500, according to information obtained from Bloomberg.

Following the significant jump in the company’s valuation, the net worth of its founder and Chief Executive Officer, Eric Yuan, also rose significantly by more than $800 million on Friday. He now has a net worth of $9.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. 

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Meanwhile, in reaction to Zoom’s overnight success, Gennie Gebhart, a researcher with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said she hoped Zoom would change course and offer protected video more widely. It should be recalled that some users of the app had raised security concerns back in April, as Nairametrics reported. 

READ ALSO: Did Satoshi Nakamoto cause the panic sell-off in Bitcoin market

Meanwhile, Zoom has recruited Alex Stamos, a former chief security officer at Facebook, and other top security experts to help deal with the security issues which led to some top companies banning its use. While discussing efforts being made to deal with the security challenges, Stamos told Reuters:

 “At the same time that Zoom is trying to improve security, they are also significantly upgrading their trust and safety. The CEO is looking at different arguments. The current plan is paid customers plus enterprise accounts where the company knows who they are.” 

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