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When calls drop we lose: Airtel calls for special telecoms infrastructure protection

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IT News Nigeria:

Leading telecommunications services provider, Airtel Nigeria, has 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, yesterday, 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 as Airtel alone recorded 1022 (One Thousand and Twenty -Two) cases of fibre cuts between July 2019 and 11th of February, 2020.

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.

Oparah, therefore, pleaded 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 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.

Recalled, Senate Panel and the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, last week came hard on Nigerian Communications Commission and telecoms companies over increasing cases of dropped calls at a public hearing. The NCC had accused the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing of contracting out construction of projects to contractors who cut cables of telecom companies, resulting to the drop calls.

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Also speaking during the briefing, the Vice President, Network Operations, Airtel Nigeria, Dr. Adedoyin Adeola, lamented that telecoms installations across the country are repeatedly vandalized, stolen, bombed and destroyed with reckless abandon, creating myriad of problems for the network operators as well as the telecommunication consumers.

“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 with inverter batteries, generators, diesels in addition to the other daily and long standing problems of multiple taxation, community issues and all,” he said.

Dr. Adeola also 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/telecoms infrastructure in flash points 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.

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