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[January 07, 2013]
Replacement of Damaged Base Stations to Cost Telcos N16 Billion
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Telecoms operators are finding it an uphill task restoring the 530 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), otherwise known as telecoms masts, which were destroyed last year by gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria and floods at various sites nationwide.
Investigations by THISDAY revealed that it would cost the affected companies some N15.9 billion to replace the base stations and improve the quality of service to their customers, many of whom have been suffering from poor services evident by a rise in dropped call rates, poor connections and lack of voice clarity.
The cost of installing a base station, including installation of a generating set or two as back up, ranges between N20 million and N30 million, depending on the height of the mast.
Of a total of 20,000 base stations nationwide belonging to telecoms operators, about 530 were destroyed by man-made and natural disasters in different parts of the country in 2012. But operators have said they were yet to restore all the affected base stations, even though restoration work was in progress.
Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, in an interview with THISDAY, said out of the 530 base stations that were reportedly damaged last year, 150 were damaged in the North during attacks on them by gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members, while 380 were destroyed by floods that affected many communities in many states of the federation.
A breakdown of the 20,000 base stations spread across the country, MTN, the country's biggest operator by subscriber base, network size and profits, accounts for 7,000; Globacom - 5,000; Airtel - 4,000; Etisalat - 2,000; while all the CDMA operators account for 2,000 masts.
According to Adebayo, "Over 150 sites were affected by way of direct damage or consequential impact; another 380 sites were reportedly affected by floods and the effects of floods." These, he explained, are primary and secondary impacts. "Primary being directly affected by floods and secondary affected by the impact of flooding, which is regarded as a consequential effect," he said.
"Both the primary and secondary impacts had a significant impact on service quality in 2012 and we are currently working hard to restore them as we look forward to a better 2013.
"We are doing our best to ensure better service offerings in spite of our challenges, and a lot of work is still in progress," he added.
Explaining why subscribers still suffer poor service quality, since only 530 base stations were destroyed out of 20,000, Adebayo said every BTS is connected to another in the same locality, and that if one is affected, the effect would be felt on several others that are connected to it.
Telecoms subscribers suffered considerable disruptions last year due to poor service quality which has spilled over into the new year.
Telecoms services across networks became so bad that subscribers often could hardly make or complete voice calls.
The calls were either jammed or diverted within a few seconds and subscribers were billed for incomplete calls.
Apart from voice calls, data services were also affected, as subscribers could not make effective use of their modems to browse the internet.
Telecoms operators, however, blamed the service disruptions on the attacks on their facilities by gunmen and the floods that submerged communities in some parts of country.
Gunmen last year launched repeated attacks on telecoms facilities with explosives and guns, destroying several base stations to protest the alleged cooperation between the telecoms operators and security agencies which made it much easier to locate the terrorists.
Also, floods caused by heavy rainfall, leading to the overflow of the Rivers Niger and Benue and their tributaries, destroyed scores of base stations in other parts of the country Copyright This Day. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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