FG yet to confer critical status on telecom infrastructure

Despite persistent plea by the four telecommunications operators for government to confer critical status on telecommunications infrastructure, no action has been taken in that regard.

Recall that MTN, Glo, Airtel and Etisalat had in the past complained of incessant attacks and sustained damage to their ICT infrastructure in parts of the country including the North East region following the onslaught of Boko Haram.

There are, however, strong indications that the rising maintenance cost of such infrastructure led to the sale of some of their equipment.

A couple of months ago, Etisalat Nigeria was the first to announce the sale of 2,136 of its towers, while MTN Nigeria recently followed suit with an agreement in principle with IHS, to transfer and manage its 9,151 towers.

The operators explained that the transfer or sale would reduce operating costs, drive network efficiencies and further expand their voice and data capacity.

According to one of the industry watchers, Blaize Obienu, their excuses are genuine superficially but its more than that.

“Government should, as a matter of urgency, speed up whatever stage it is and make the infrastructure of telecoms equipment a critical one.

Meanwhile, it would be recalled that in recent past some dominant operators were worst hit with vandalism.

Commenting on the issue, MTN Nigeria Corporate Service Executive, Akinwale Goodluck, disclosed that MTN and other major telecommunications companies had suffered deliberate infrastructure damage in parts of the country.

Goodluck detailed how ICT has become the backbone of Nigeria’s economy and that continued damage to it could have an effect on socio-economic life in Nigeria.

He said: “The underpinning of telecommunications is Information Communication Technology (ICT). As such the impact of these incidents, if they continue unabated, will not only affect common telecommunication services like making calls and sending text, which itself has consequences for individual well being, but also negatively impacts businesses that rely on telecom. Loss of fibre hampers businesses that depend on ICT to conduct their affairs.

“Any improper or illegal interference or damage to ICT infrastructure by unauthorised third parties is an unfortunate development,” he stated.

Speaking recently at the WSIS+10 event in Switzerland in June 2014, the Communication and Technology Minister, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, had explained the importance of the sector.“A Cyber Security Bill that, among other things, seeks to designate our ICT infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure is currently being debated in the National Assembly to be passed into law,  recognising the need to protect this strategic infrastructure that is contributing positively to national growth and development.”

Source : SunOnline

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