Two telecommunication giants, MTN Group and Globacom have suffered major productivity downtime following the continuous attacks on their facilities all over the country.

According to reports, the facilities of the telcos have continued to suffer a 35% rate of vandalism on a yearly basis, culminating into 33,000 cases of vandalism and outright theft in the sector by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The damage: A source from MTN noted that most of the attacks took place in the South-East region of the country.

The source also claimed that despite MTN’s quick detection technology that notifies the company of cases of vandalism, issues of fibre cuts have been very high, especially from construction companies. It’s said that only Julius Berger has been kind enough to call the attention of the company.

“Other construction companies just feign ignorance to such acts. They just walk away.” 

Important components like generating sets, batteries, automatic voltage regulator and radios are commonly reported stolen on a daily basis while the company also records arbitrary fibre cuts as reported by the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).

MTN Group’s losses are not common in Nigeria alone as MTN South Africa also had to shut down 53 base stations permanently after vandalism attacks. The company was able to recover batteries worth almost 1million South African Rands through the help of security personnel and members of the public.

Globacom: Globacom also suffered losses resulting in over 40% downtime on its services. This was responsible for the poor network services the network provider has been experiencing nationwide.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, in a reaction to the losses said that the situation affected network users, created huge losses for telecom operators and lower revenues for the government.

Authenticating these claims, the Chairman, ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, said apart from theft and damage caused to infrastructure, there have been injuries to security personnel at sites, “and in some cases, maiming and even killing by hoodlums. While the focus has been on the impact of this menace on quality of service, there is need to find out how much operators are losing to this challenge.”

The impact: The huge impact of these losses double down on operators who bear the losses and subscribers who suffer network setback and continuous service disruptions. The impact is continuous as it results in increasing dropped calls, aborted and undelivered short message services (SMS), and countless failed calls, among others.

The way forward: Adebayo called for the passage of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) Bill, which he believed would go a long way to bring sanity to the sector by ensuring that offenders are prosecuted, and adequate protection of facilities identified as important national assets.

The first Vice President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Ikechukwu Nnamani, pushed for continuous education of government agencies across various tiers on the cost implications of their actions in the event of the shutdown of telecom infrastructures.