By Grace Aderemi-John
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the Fifth Generation Network, otherwise known as 5G for the nation.
This approval is coming after months of conspiracy theories and myths which sought to link 5G technology with the COVID-19 pandemic as of last year. So far, the greatest concern associated with this technological advancement is the danger it may pose to human health.
Recall that in May 2020, the federal government halted plans to deploy the 5G network for an 18-month investigation into potential health risks associated with the technology. Upon conclusion of investigations and validation of the safety of 5G Network by the World Health Organisation and the International Telecommunications Union, the Federal Executive Council approved the policy for the deployment of 5G in Nigeria.
Away from the myths associated with this innovation, what are the implications of this tech to our business?
5G And Our Digital Economy
5G is a fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks that cellular companies began deploying in 2019. Like its predecessors (4G, 3G, and 2G), 5G data is transmitted over radio waves – a type of electromagnetic radiation. They are superfast and represent an advancement in telecommunication standards.
The 5G advantage can be accessed in three ways:
4G handles only 200 Megabytes of data but on a good day, 5G can handle up to 1 Gigabyte or more at a 1000 megabytes per second. It also has 100-times the speed, 10-times reliability, and 10-times lower latency than 4G.
4G suffers from around 100 milliseconds in response delay for downloading images or accessing information however the response time for 5G can be as low as 1miliseconds.
In a given space, 4G is only able to connect to one-tenth of the number of devices that 5G can connect with. This means that if 4G is able to connect to 10 devices within a given perimeter, 5G is able to connect to a 100 of such devices!
While upgrading from 3G to 4G LTE was about faster connections, experts have said that the benefits 5G will bring to society in the coming decade will be truly revolutionary.
How Will 5G Revolutionise the Nigerian Security?
Our security agencies can develop an efficient model to tackle insecurity. Stakeholder partnerships can be formed by the government and private sector to develop a nationwide security framework that addresses insecurity at every stratum of the society. For instance, Security agencies can integrate a drone security and artificial intelligence model, part of which will entail the use drones in gathering and intel about volatile areas of the country safely and near-instantaneously to help security operatives map out perimeters to secure.
5G technology will also be largely beneficial for the Smart City initiative recently launched by the Lagos State Government. The smart city will leverage the power of technology using thousands of sensors with wireless HD cameras to ensure the safety of lives and property of citizens.
This technology in addition to improving work efficiency will greatly improve intelligence gathering which is key to improving the nation’s security framework. This is in addition to the
What are the underlying risks?
With the new 5G comes new service delivery models which will in turn lead to a creation of more IoT devices. This emphasizes the need for secure software. Due to its high speed, more operations will rely on internet connectivity which will result in an exposure of a vast amount of data which will make users more vulnerable as there will be even more data travelling in the open and stored in cloud servers.
If the number of online IoT devices increases, devices with poor security features will also increase and will pave way for an increase in cybercrime.
Though 5G could positively impact our critical infrastructure in terms of development and security, attacks on networks connected to related infrastructure could have severe consequences for the society.
To address the likely threats, there is need to develop an effective regulatory framework to strengthen the security of 5G networks.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s ICT Minister, Dr. Isa Pantami has said the deployment of the technology would be in phases. He said it would start from major cities in Nigeria, where there is need for very high-quality broadband.
In his words, “Only few places will start to benefit from it. And we do hope that the plan will come up immediately. That will show that from now to 2025, we will be able to ensure that significant towns and cities in the country will also benefit from 5G”. He also said the Nigerian Communications Commission had been directed to work on a regulatory framework to ensure the successful deployment and safe use of the technology in Nigeria.