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5G and 2G subscribers will pay the same rate – Eng. Abiodun Omoniyi, MD/CEO, VDT

Engr. Biodun Omoniyi. GMD/CEO, VDT Comms
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Engineer Abiodun Omoniyi has demystified the myth surrounding the 5G technology, saying there is no difference between 5G and 2G in terms of affordability. The difference is in the service quality, user experience, not the technology. Excerpt.  

Elon Musk is bringing the internet service into the Nigerian market. Were you expecting such an incursion?

Elon Musk has not been the quietest person in the world. Maybe in the last three to four years, he has been talking about coming into the communication industry for a while. Some of the things he is doing as well is not new except the scale with which he wants to do it. He is trying to cover the whole world. It is about distant technology. But, of course, this comes with a difference. He has refined it. Rather than using the big satellite dish, he is providing a smaller dish. With that size, he is going to the globe. So, I don’t think it is shocking. We know it already.

Is the regulator protecting smaller players?

The industry is a highly capital-intensive industry. Especially if you are moving into the retail market. You must be able to provide infrastructure to reach 200 million people in a qualitative manner. You need capital. I think that the innovative players will always survive. If you are innovative, you will find a way to survive. Maybe protection may help more but then, we need to understand that the consumers desire something better.

We have two 5G licensees. Will 5G obliterate other legacy technology like 2G etc?

There are some consumers operating 2G in the rural areas. We have about 70 to 80% subscribers using 3G. Now, we have 4G technology. Subscribers have just adopted this. We do not have too many devices around that are 5G-enabled. We have many 3G devices. That is why we have many 3G services. We are beginning to have more updates on 4G. Now that the 4G technology is maturing, 5G has arrived. We await the arrival of 5G devices. Maybe that is why the roll out is a bit slow. Because the 5G licensees need to ensure that the device penetration is commensurate with the rollout. Because when the infrastructure is ready, you need subscribers. The only way subscribers get service is through the devices. It will take some time before we feel the impact of 5G.

Will 5G service be accessible, available and affordable?

When a businessperson buys an asset, he wants to sell it to the consumers. So you they need to look at the market. What is affordable? You need an office. There would be a middle ground where supply would meet demand. That is the right path. Many people desire that quality. We have spent this much. Over time, we want to improve our investment. Then there will be a balance so that it is available. The licensees will make 5G available for subscribers. Now will it be affordable? For those that desire quality, they would be able to afford it. But would it be affordable to everybody? Yes.  Later, the common denomination is the quantity of data. So, if a network is fast, it means you would be paying for gigabytes quickly. If you believe it is too expensive, then you can revert to 3G and continue. That is the same way we have 2G. 3G is the most popular now. It still serves certain needs.

Mind you, not all devices can service 4G. Subscribers don’t understand the difference. They pay the same rate for the same gigabyte. Whether it comes from 3G or 4G, you pay the same rate. There are layers across the “G” and what you buy is the gigabyte. So, whether you are making a call via 5G, you will pay the same rate as the 2G subscribes. But if it is the digital economy, you will access data faster on 5G. You will get things done quickly. Your data depleted quickly. Of course, you will get high satisfaction. That is the balance. There is no real difference in terms of affordability. But in terms of quality, subscribers will get better user experience. The experience is better than what the legacy technology provides. For instance, 4G gives better user experience than 3G. 

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