Airtel: Border Closure Affecting Telecom Services; Boko Haram Bombs 282 Stations

Voice call and data networks in the villages and towns around Nigerian borders have been down due to lack of diesel to power the base stations there, Airtel Nigeria has said.

It also said the insurgents bombed 282 telecom base stations in the North East recently. Daily Trust reports that the Federal Government had stopped fuel tankers from delivering fuel to areas close to the borders.

But the telecom companies said the epileptic power supply in the country is affecting their base transceiver stations (BTSs) situated near the borders, noting that they are now shutting down “because there is no fuel to power them.” BTS is a piece of equipment that facilitates wireless communication between user equipment and a network.

Speaking in Lagos on Thursday on why there are still dropped calls and other network challenges in the country, the Vice President, Network Operation of Airtel Nigeria, Dr Adedoyin Adeola, said 20 percent of the company’s BTSs around the border areas were currently down.

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Adedoyin said this is presently affecting voice calls and data network, and by extension negatively impacting on the country’s economy.

He said all the BTSs had dried up because they could not get fuel to keep them functional. “All of us, the telecom companies, are affected. We are not happy about it because our subscribers are affected and their businesses are affected as well. We call on the Federal Government to please do something about the policy on fuel to border areas,” he said.

Apart from this, he said theft and damage to telecom equipment by thieves and Boko Haram were other challenges militating against hitch-free telecom services.

He revealed that Boko Haram bombed 282 of Airtel BTSs in the North East in recent time. The company, he said, recovered (repaired) 164 of it, “but the insurgents again went back and damaged many of them after the repair.”

He also said construction companies had damaged the telecom companies’ fibre cables across the country.

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“1,022 cases of fibre cuts, caused by construction companies, were recorded by Airtel alone between July 2019 and February 12 this year,” he added.

He called on the Federal Government to list telecom infrastructure as one of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI). If this is done, he said, incidences of damage to telecom infrastructure would reduce.

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