Reports of a potential 5G rollout by Mafab Communications in February are circulating, yet skeptics cast doubt on the new telecom operator’s ability to finally establish a functional market presence, given its history of multiple postponements.
Mafab Communications has begun selling 5G routers, as indicated on its website. However, industry watchers in Lagos express a desire for more than mere announcements, emphasizing the need for substantial progress in Mafab’s operational plans.
This relatively lesser-known player secured its 5G license in December 2021 through a fiercely contested auction, outbidding well-established Airtel Nigeria with a winning bid of US$273.6 million.
Since obtaining the license, Mafab has grappled with challenges that critics argue have the potential to leave its license dormant. The telecom regulator has extended the initial deadline for Mafab’s 5G network rollout.
To date, only MTN Nigeria has successfully launched 5G services across approximately 13 cities, utilizing over 700 sites leveraging its existing infrastructure. In contrast, Mafab aims to enter the 5G arena by capitalizing on its acquisition of a Universal Access Service License (UASL). By adopting infrastructure sharing agreements, Mafab intends to expedite its rollout, competing with the likes of MTN and Airtel, both already licensed for 5G services.
According to an insider familiar with Mafab in Abuja, “The company now has access to enough capital to build its network infrastructure,” signaling potential progress in overcoming its earlier challenges. However, concerns persist within the industry about Mafab’s ability to deliver on its promises and provide substantial 5G services, as skeptics remain cautious amid the uncertainty surrounding its rollout plans.