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Mobile industry suffers over 2,000 fibre cuts in first half

BY: Daily Graphic
 Mr Kenneth Ashigbey
Mr Kenneth Ashigbey

The Mobile Industry has experienced over 2,000 incidents of fibre cuts and 600 incidents of theft at the mobile cell sites.

The phenomenon affected more than 18 million subscribers within the first half of this year alone, according to data released from the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications.

The mobile industry association has observed that the prevalence of fibre cuts, cable/fuel/battery thefts, and vandalism to the infrastructure of its members remains an unfortunate challenge affecting quality of service, general social and economic activity, security and customer experience across the country.

A release issued in Accra by the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunication at the weekend said “the persistent nature of the cuts and damage to infrastructure affect operations and threaten the long term sustainability of the mobile technology ecosystem on which Ghana’s digitisation agenda relies heavily in delivering a formal, smart economy and connected society for Ghanaians.”

Further data from the industry association reveals that these cuts which were caused mainly by private developers, road contractors, unknown criminals and other utility providers cost the industry over GH¢30 million in direct repairs only (not counting the cost of loss of revenue, the non-traditional temporary solutions deployed as well as additional capital expenditure to keep network availability stable), over 150,000 litres of diesel and 240 batteries stolen from the cell sites with a whopping 18 million affected subscribers and businesses within the value chain.”

Enormous problem

The Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, said in the release that “the data gathered speaks to the enormous problems that service providers are faced with, where limited funds are being expended on repairs of cuts and replacement of equipment as against expanding the network to enhance quality, reach and experience for customers.

The service providers have to deploy extra meshed networks to provide additional redundancies to ensure that, the over 300 cuts being experienced per month currently does not impact more than 25 per cent of the network.”

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“We cannot continue to accept this menace as a norm and we are working assiduously to reach all partners and stakeholders who work within the Right of Way (RoW) across the country to agree modalities to reduce if not eradicate the menace” Mr Ashigbey stated.

In the light of the development, he said the Chamber was embarking on a sensitisation outreach in four main regions where reports of cable thefts, cuts and damage were rampant to build awareness towards enforcement.

He said the engagement would seek to bring together stakeholders from the road agencies, road contractors, utility service providers, local government, regulators and others who work within the reservations or play critical roles in its management.

Attendees will work together to build action plans towards effective collaboration and better coordination within the right of ways while preserving each other’s infrastructure.

The workshops will engage with security teams within the regions to ensure that criminals who tamper with telecommunications infrastructure were dealt with in accordance with the law.

Electronic Communications Act

Section 77 of the Electronic Communications Act 2008 (Act 775) undoubtedly makes Fibre Optic Cable cut and damage to communications infrastructure a criminal offence to which offenders liable to summary conviction to a fine of not more than three thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or both.

The chamber therefore urged the general public to be vigilant of suspicious persons who access the Right of Way, culverts fitted with underground cables and base station facilities without permits or visibly branded outfits.

“Kindly inform the law enforcement authority or call your mobile network operator to report as their activities affect your service and compromise your security in the long term,” it noted.