Why telecoms poor services persist

The alleged poor telecommunication services witnessed across Nigeria has been attributed to an investment gap of about N1.98 trillion in the sector and that is currently hindering some 40 million Nigerians from accessing basic telephony services in the country.

The gap could be attributed to the fact that the industry needs about 80,000 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS means telecoms mast), which require about N1.98 trillion to fix as cost of one is put at N40 million, for quality service to be rendered to millions of subscribers.

BTS is a piece of equipment that facilitates wireless communication between user equipment (UE) and a network. UEs are devices like mobile phones (handsets), WLL phones, and computers with wireless Internet connectivity.

The statistics show that only 30,598 telecoms masts provide service for the nation’s active telephone population (179 million) as Nigeria’s telecoms sector investment is put at $70 billion.

What it means: The gap of about 49,402 BTS is putting pressure on existing infrastructure, resulting in poor services almost on a daily basis. This challenge has also denied some 195 communities, which host about 40 million Nigerians, access to voice and data services, among other telecoms services.

What is obtainable in other climes: While Nigeria boasts of 30,598 BTS for 179 million users, the United Kingdom (UK), with a population of 60 million people and about 250 land square meters has close to 60,000 BTS. As at March 2019, South Africa with a population of 51.7 million people and a 109.8sqm landmass had 30,000 BTS. Also, Kenya with a population of 47.5 million and a 202sqm landmass has 6,800 BTS.

What ALTON expects: Meanwhile, the Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria, (ALTON) has called the government to stimulate investment in the sector.

Chairman, ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, tasked the government and approval authorities to speed up the process of obtaining site-building approvals required by telecoms operators.

He said, “Government must do a lot more in protecting exiting telecommunications infrastructure because recurring vandalisation of infrastructure is a major disincentive for rolling out more sites. 

“Also, high cost of Right of Way (RoW) for interconnecting underground fibre optic cable infrastructure is a major challenge, which limits the numbers of sites to be built or interconnected. Investment in BTS infrastructure could only happen when there is an enabling environment in Nigeria.” 

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