Starlink will challenge MTN, Airtel, and others for market dominance.

Collins Okoye

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The licensing of Starlink in Nigeria last month suggests that some of the country's current telecom network providers may lose some of their market shares. Major firms like MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications, as well as other ISPs like Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile, are also part of this. Elon Musk, the American entrepreneur behind SpaceX, owns the Starlink satellite Internet business.

SpaceX had begun discussions with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2021 to gain the licenses necessary to establish the network, taking advantage of Nigeria's position as one of Africa's major markets. SpaceX was given the green light to launch its satellite Internet service in Nigeria in May 2022 as part of its continental rollout strategy.

The final letters of award of the Fifth Generation (5G) Spectrum licenses to MTN and Mafab Communications, winners of December 13, 2021, spectrum auction, are expected to be issued within the next few weeks after the approval of Starlink.

Both licensed operators can begin deploying 5G networks as soon as the license is issued. For example, MTN Nigeria said it would begin deploying a 5G network on August 24, 2022.

According to a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, Network, and Software Engineer named Engr Yusuf Aweda Jimoh, Nigeria's effect on the world will be enormous should the Starlink network materialize.

According to Engr Jimoh, "the effect SpaceX's Starlink of Elon Musk would have in any nation would be huge," noting that no current mobile internet providers in the country would equal one-third of the value of Starlink.

When asked about Starlink's fantastic internet speed ranges of up to 104Mbps, Engr Jimoh said further, "No internet provider for mobile phones would equal one-third of this value. This is undoubtedly a significant challenge to the current internet service providers.

"In my perspective, I believe that Starlink should not interact directly with the customers," he remarked while advising the new network provider. Alternatively, it might serve as the principal supplier of services to end-users, partnering with smaller firms in the industry to do so.

The diverse network offering is helpful for industrial development, according to a US-based Information and Communications Technology (ICT) specialist, Dr. Ben Idegwu.

According to Dr. Idegwu, there would be little or no impact on the 5G spectrum licensees currently in place. The deployment of optical fiber and satellite-based network technologies, on the other hand, is distinct, according to him.

For example, Idegwu points out that "Fibre optics is quick since it does not have to go to the orbit and return to deliver data like satellites," as fundamental differences between the two network technologies. It's also less expensive and has lower interference and loss."

Nonetheless, you are aware that the Satellite system is wireless. As a result, it's feasible to serve areas without a fiber-optic infrastructure. Even yet, the data rate and dependability are still inferior to fiber optics in this case. To properly set up a fiber-optic network, a significant investment must be made.

Dr. Marcel Mbamalu, the media expert and CEO of Newstide Publications, believes that Starlink's presence in Nigeria would help speed up the spread of Internet services to rural regions and generate more opportunities in such areas to help prevent the rural-urban movement in Nigeria.

Dr. Mbamalu said that the network would provide a youngster in rural regions with the same internet access opportunities as those in metropolitan areas.

Because of internet access, "the gap is closed," according to Starlink's statement. "And it can only get better as Starlink provides more competition for providers like MTN, Airtel 9Mobile, and Globacom, to urge them to enhance service quality and delivery," Mbamalu emphasized the importance of this.

However, several telecommunications specialists who talked with THEWILL believe that the development of the network would undoubtedly create intense rivalry among providers with the approval of Starlink.

Low-Earth Orbit (LOE) Starlink was launched by SpaceX as a constellation of high-bandwidth satellites that users could use worldwide.

While bandwidth refers to how much data a connection can carry at any one moment, a low latency network is one that often has short delay times.

Rather than using fiber-optic cable, Starlink Internet is touted to carry data across space's vacuum.

If you live in a location where internet access has been spotty or non-existent, this device is touted to be great. Satellite-based network solutions are expected to appeal to and successfully cover those prospective consumers who reside in rural regions because of the high population density of most Nigerians.

Nigeria and Mozambique, both in Africa, are two nations that have given their blessing to Starlink. Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia have also blessed the network's expansion.

Meanwhile, Nigeria's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) business has seen exceptional growth, facilitating socio-economic progress in Nigeria and throughout the African continent.

More than 200 million active mobile lines in Nigeria as of April 2022, an incredible leap from less than half a million connected phone lines in Nigeria in the previous 20 years. According to statistics, Nigeria currently has a broadband penetration rate of 42.79 percent, as the nation has progressed from Second Generation (2G) to Third Generation (3G), Fourth Generation (4G), and now the Fifth Generation (5G), which is set to begin.

They've already proclaimed their willingness to start with the 5G network.

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, recently held its 90th telecom consumer parliament in Ikeja, Lagos, where operators expressed optimism about the network rollout.

Prof Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, reaffirmed the mandate and said that the winners MTN and Mafab Communication are now expected to accelerate the deployment of the 5G network that will usher Nigeria into a more robust Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR, and a more digitized Nigerian economy while declaring open the consumer parliament themed: "5G Technology: Opportunities and Challenges."

5G service rollouts are planned to begin on August 24, 2022, according to Danbatta, "following the terms and conditions of the 5G license."

Industry participation is critical to successfully implementing 5G services in Nigeria. He asked industry players to join the Commission to explore the new technology's vast possibilities.


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