Telcos threaten to abandon closed towers over taxes
Telecommunications operators have warned that they will no longer engage any state government over closure of their towers over unapproved taxes or levies but rather will abandon such site, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek has learnt.
Abandoning closed cell site means that telecommunications operator that owns the site will render it inactive as such cannot transmit calls through such site.
To this end, all mobile phones within the radius of coverage of the closed site won’t be able to make or receive calls.
Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), said that the decision is necessitated by incessant closure of base transreceiver station (BTS) of telecommunications operators since the beginning of this year on account of unapproved taxes and levies by some state government agencies.
“We hereby warn that any site they close going forward, we are not going to open them and what this means is that such state will experience poor quality of service. NCC should not ask us about quality of service (QoS),” he said.
He stated that telcos are being asked to pay Environmental Sanitation levy, generator emission tax among others which are not among approved taxes and levies.
“Presently, we are ment to pay 38 different taxes and levies. Why are we paying tax for generator emission and environmental sanitation? We are ask to pay Environmental sanitation levy of N100million today, you go to a meeting for none payment of this bill and the next day 10 sites are closed. The states in the habit of doing these include states in South-south, South -east, some Northern states and some in South- west except Lagos where the taxes have been harmonized,” he said.
Adebayo however, appealed to President Mohammadu Buhari to declare telecommunications infrastructure as critical national infrastructure to address the problem of close of cell sites in the country.
“We have Cybercrime act which is already an act of parliament, a provision of that act demands the president to pronounce certain infrastructure as critical national. We are saying on the strength of that law, the president should give an order declaring telecommunications infrastructure as critical national infrastructure. With that order tomorrow, the game will change,” he said.
According to Engr. Olusola Teniola, president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), “our members did not see and still do not see any viability in further bringing in hard earned money into an environment that appears hostile to them. Until Government seriously addresses the multiple taxation issue, multiple regulation and the harmonization of taxes and removal of exorbitant Right of Way charges applied to our members then there wasn’t and there still isn’t any logical or business reason for further investments to be made by them.”
“Just to emphasis the point, the INFRACO licenses were created to address the neutrality in accessibility, affordability and availability of undersea fiber into the hinterland that was the missing piece to ensure ubiquitous broadband infrastructure can be made available to the masses.
What we witnessed and the records are there for all to see, is the numerous delays and slowing down of government to assist in the realization of the implementation – without government’s full buy-in there were mixed signals sent to the investment community as to exactly how this was going to be realized,” he said.