(Ecofin Agency) - To meet the growing demand for high-speed connectivity on the continent, telecom operators are increasingly focusing their investments on 4G and 5G. Some are even planning to switch off inferior mobile technologies.
Telecom operator MTN Nigeria has no plans to disable its 2G and 3G mobile networks "for now." This was revealed by Mohammed Rufai (photo), the operator’s CTO, last week at a press conference concerning the extension of MTN’s 5G network to 13 cities.
“The fact that we are moving to 5G does not mean we should not cater to the needs of the subscribers on the other technology. We must also consider those who need the lower technologies. The fact is even that 3G network can be used for other services in the future,” the executive explained.
The update comes after MTN Nigeria recently renewed its license for the 2,100MHz frequency band with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for 58.7 billion naira ($127.4 million). This resource will allow them to continue providing 3G services until 2037.
This investment reflects the strategic position of 3G networks for telecom operators in sub-Saharan Africa, where smartphone adoption is not yet high. According to the GSM Association (GSMA), 49% of mobile connections in the region come from a smartphone. The association further reveals that 3G will remain the dominant network in the region, accounting for more than half of all connections by 2025.
However, it is important to remember that most telecom operators in Africa are focusing their investments on 4G and 5G to meet the growing demand for high-speed connectivity on the continent. In this context, some operators and governments are advocating for the deactivation of 2G and 3G networks to free up frequencies for broadband and ultra-broadband services. This is the case in South Africa.
“MTN Nigeria would take into account what subscribers need. We shall not leave anyone behind, even as we encourage people to move to higher technology. Of course, we know that a time would come when people on some of those networks will reduce, then we can take appropriate decisions on them," Rufai added.
Isaac K. Kassouwi