Telecommunications companies in Nigeria spend some $90 million annually in repairs of fibre network cut by activities of government contractors building roads and vandals, the much needed money which would have gone into network expansions and provision of quality services, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek can now report.
Fiber optic cables are major building blocks in the telecommunication infrastructure because of their high bandwidth capabilities.
But the damage being done to the telecommunications infrastructure is hampering efforts to provide robust ICT services.
Operators also warn that if urgent measures are not taken by government and other regulatory authorities, about $25 billion investments recorded in the sector so far will be seriously affected.
As it is today, Nigeria still lacks major infrastructure and cannot afford preventable damages of its facilities as a result of government neglect and security lapses.
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek gathered that damages to fibre network especially vandalism, theft; fibre cuts; and road damages are widespread and affect all the operators.
MTN Nigeria, Airtel, Multi-Links Limited, 21st Century Technologies, Glo, Etisalat and other companies with cable infrastructure have also reported extensive damages to their facilities.
Repeated and multiple cuts to fibre network disrupts services and defeats redundancy and self healing architecture of fibre ring.
Fibre optic network infrastructure is the transmission backbone required to transport bandwidth from undersea cable from Lagos where it berths to other parts of the country.
None availability of this infrastructure has been attributed to why cost of bandwidth is high as few that are available are faced by the challenge of consistent cuts.
In March this year Airtel experienced network outage which was caused by a fibre-cut at their Earth Station at Saka Tinubu, Victoria Island, Lagos, which affected one of their main switches.
Airtel said it discovered that the network infrastructure was vandalised by road construction workers.
MTN Nigeria which has over 8,000km of fibre optic transmission line across the country report frequent damages to its network.
Funmi Omogbenigun, general manager, Corporate Communications, MTN Nigeria, said that MTN suffers more than 70 fibre cuts on monthly basis due to road work and criminal activity.
She explained that statistics have shown that 42 per cent of the cuts were as a result of road construction in spite of the fact that we have the necessary permits from government to place our fibre in specific areas, 25 per cent due to outright vandalism and 33 per cent was as a result of other causes many of which point to acts of sabotage.
“We also suffer widespread loss of diesel and equipment across the country as a result of theft, vandalization and insecurity. It is extremely difficult to quantify the quantum of losses in terms of the cost of repairing/ replacing stolen or damaged equipment on a regular basis, downtime on the network, poor customer perception and the attendant erosion on our reputation. Suffice to say, that the cumulative cost and the impact on customer’s experience on our network, is sufficient to cause the company a great deal of concern,” she added.
Elsewhere, 21st Century Technologies Limited (21CTL), a communications and technology services provider with one of the most extensive fibre optic network in the Lagos metropolis has also cried out.
Wale Ajesibutu, executive vice chairman of the company said that cuts to its fibre network infrastructure have become regular occurrences with his company spending over $5 million yearly on the repair of such cuts a cost that is borne only by the company.
The operators warned of dire consequences if the damages are unchecked especially now that the country has not attained enough to support ICT growth.