MTN Nigeria has revealed that it has no plans to turn off its 2G and 3G mobile networks “for now.” This was disclosed by Mohammed Rufai, the operator’s CTO, during a press briefing regarding the expansion of MTN’s 5G network to 13 cities.
Rufai explained, “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. However, 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.”
This comes after MTN Nigeria recently renewed its license for the 2,100MHz frequency band with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) UoS$127.4 million. This resource will allow them to continue providing 3G services until 2037.
This investment highlights 3G networks’ strategic importance to telecom providers in sub-Saharan Africa, where smartphone usage is still low. However, 49% of mobile connections in the area, according to the GSM Association (GSMA), originate from a smartphone. By 2025, 3G will still outnumber all other networks in the area, making up more than half of all connections, according to the group.
However, it is essential to remember that most African telecom operators are focusing their investments on 4G and 5G to meet the growing demand for high-speed connectivity. In this context, some operators and governments are advocating for deactivating 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 if we encourage people to advance to higher technology. But, 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.