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ISPs blame tower operators for poor internet service delivery


Telecommunication mast

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country have attributed poor internet service being delivered to their subscribers to poor services delivered by telecommunications tower operators as well as high cost of renting towers that house their base stations.

Satis Kumar, chief operating officer, Direct On Data, said ISPs are saddled with harsh business condition, which include high base station rentage, inefficiency of tower management that have forced them into deploying batteries at their base stations to ensure improved service quality among other challenges.

“Most times our base stations go down apparently because the attendant is not around to put on the generator when public power supply goes off, sometimes there are diesel issues. Some of our clients are providing critical services that don’t need their internet to go down even for a second. How do you explain this situation?”

Kumar said that ISPs are charged between N3.6million to N4million per tower for a year. This cost depends on the type of equipment being hang on the tower as some equipment consume more power than others and some take space more than others.

David Venn, immediate past chief executive officer, Spectranet, a 4G LTE internet service provider, said that before now, their biggest cost outlay was cost of national and international bandwidth, “but today the cost of bandwidth is coming down which leaves cost of tower rental our biggest cost of operation. Though the cost of tower rental in Nigeria is high compared to other countries I have worked, considering operational cost in this environment in terms of maintenance of the towers, it is reasonable. But in Zambia where there is also power challenge, there is no need for operators to provide security at towers as security challenge is not serious,” he said.

Sunday Folayan, president, Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) said that tower rental cost in the country will not be cheap as it is determined by some factors which include number of users on the tower as well as power and security provided at the towers.

“I’m not surprise that tower rental cost is high because the cost of powering base stations with generators is high. If we fix power problem in this country every other thing will take shape,” he added.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations revealed that the cost incurred in the maintenance of telecommunications towers in the country has risen to $160 million from $104 million every month in the past one year.

A staff of one of the tower operators who does not want his name in print told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that the increase in the cost of maintenance as witness in the past one year could be attributed to increase in the cost of diesel, generator parts and generators which has been affected by foreign exchange issues.

“60 percent of the cost of managing a tower goes to provision of power, such as diesel and maintenance of generators. Where there is public power supply, the tariff has gone up.”

Lanre Ajayi, immediate past president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), identified two factors as responsible for high cost of tower rental in the country, which are competition and service cost.

According to him, ‘competition in the co-location business is not deep enough to bring about reduced cost and efficient management. Presently, there are few companies providing co-location facilities in the country’.

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