By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor
Airtel Nigeria, on Thursday, cried out that road constructions in Lagos and other parts of the country are negatively impacting on its network due to the high level of cuts they give to its fibre cables.
The telco said between July last year and this February it had experienced 1022 fibre cuts, accounting for why its quality of services, sometimes, drop. It added that it was in addition to several other challenges, including theft of its power generating sets, inverter batteries and, sometimes, the entire base station facilities its network rides on.
It called on the Federal Government to urgently deal with the menace of vandalism, insecurity and insurgency, otherwise the current spate of dropped calls experienced by some telecommunications consumers would continue.
Speaking, on Thursday, at a media briefing in Ikoyi, Lagos, the Director of Corporate Communications & CSR, Airtel Nigeria, Emeka Oparah, noted that the declaration of telecoms infrastructure as critical national infrastructure by the government would go a long way in helping to safeguard telecoms infrastructure.
According to him, 405 cases of the fibre cut were as a result of road rehabilitation activities by construction workers, while 617 cases were due to vandalism.
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Oparah, appealed that the government should come to the aid of telecoms operators as these activities result in dropped calls, poor network quality, network congestion and poor user experience for telecommunications subscribers across the country.
He also urged the federal and state governments to hasten the approval process for the right of way for fibre deployment as well as quicken the Environmental Impact Analysis, EIA, approval process, noting that these actions would help solve the problem of network congestion and network failure.
Also speaking during the briefing, the Vice President, Network Operations, Airtel Nigeria, Dr. Adedoyin Adeola, lamented that telecoms installations across the country are repeatedly vandalised, stolen, bombed and destroyed with reckless abandon, creating a myriad of problems for the network operators as well as the telecommunication consumers.
He said: “Telecoms operators are plagued with so many problems ranging from security issues to illegal signal boosters. While a network provider is working hard to restore a fibre cut due to vandalism or activities of road construction workers, it also has to deal with illegal signal boosters, which interfere with network quality and operated by unlicensed operators.
“Then, all operators would have to wait endlessly for right of way approvals, EIA approvals and other approvals. Also, telecoms installations are huge targets for thieves who cart away inverter batteries, generators, diesel in addition to the other daily and long-standing problems of multiple taxations, community issues and all.”
However, Adeola highlighted the efforts telcos are making to remedy the situation despite the harsh operating climate, stating that steps are being taken to improve surveillance across telecoms fibre routes; proactively engage with construction companies and communities; and enlisting the support of security agencies to access sites and telecoms infrastructure in flashpoints or troubled areas, among many others.
He also called on the government to urgently declare fibre routes as critical National Assets, contain the security challenges country-wide and improve public power availability and quality.