5G is here

Licences granted to MTC, Telecom, NBC & Loc8
Cran intends to establish a unit to respond to cyber attacks while Namibians need to learn more about 5G.
Augetto Graig
"In 2021 and 2022, we saw the spread of false information, such as that 5G causes Covid-19. This is not true!"
This is what the chief executive of the Communications Regulatory Authority for Namibia (Cran), Emilia Nghikembua, said yesterday at an awareness campaign hosted in the capital yesterday.
The campaign aims to inform Namibians about the benefits of improved communication technology and also to combat misinformation about 5G.
She emphasised that the radio signals used for 5G are the same as those used for television sets and common 3G mobile phones.
"Studies by the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved 5G and found that shortwave radiation dissipates within one meter of the base station.
"Furthermore, over the long term, exposure to multiple X-rays or hours in the sun would do more damage," she added.
Nghikembua said that 5G technology requires more base stations while signals contain more data on shorter wavelengths. This makes way for more traffic and the connection of more devices, improving the communication between person to person, person to machine, or machine to machine.
"Access to information in real-time, remote control of devices, it's here and it's now," she says.
In September, following a bandwidth auction, Cran awarded 5G and spectrum licences to Telecom Namibia, MTC and a joint venture between NBC and Loc8 Mobile.
The spectrum was allocated in terms of the companies' business plans and these telecommunications operators have 12 months to start rolling out their infrastructure, Nghikembua said.
Universal coverage
"We always try to promote universal coverage and therefore each licence also has obligations, such as also improving the 4G network in regions where less than 80% of residents use it. This includes the Kunene, Kavango West, Otjozondjupa and Omaheke," she said.
Furthermore, Cran is also establishing a unit to respond to cyber-attacks. "As our technology improves, we also need to protect citizens from cybercrime," she said.
The authority's mandate has been expanded to include this new function and the government has budgeted for a response team, she added.
The Deputy Chairman of the Cran board, Elvis Nashilongo, said the launch of 5G is an integral part of Namibia's drive to expand digitally "through ultra-fast internet speed and low latency, on a massive scale, which will revolutionise several industries".
"In approving the 5G strategy, Cabinet noted that the government must prioritise bridging the digital gap between urban and rural areas, reduce communication costs and empower citizens while giving industries the desired space to innovate through emerging technologies," he said.
Nghikembua also announced the phasing out of 2G technology at the event.
"In August, we consulted with operators about the allocation of spectrum and decided together to phase out 2G. Now we are developing a strategy for that. We know many people are still dependent on it and the availability and affordability of new devices is also a major concern for the regulator. [However], we need to bring our people together as well as universal access to affordable devices.
"We involve policymakers to see how costs can be reduced, for example in terms of taxes, but we also have to ensure that people know to be able to use the new technology," she said.
Furthermore, she called on the Ministry of Trade and Industry to speed up the new bill on consumer protection that the ministry is currently working on.
"Service providers must take responsibility and there is a great need to speed up consumer protection and awareness," she said. – [email protected]