Leadership (Abuja)

10 September 2012

Nigeria: Mobile Operators Lose N8 Billion Daily to Attacks On Infrastructure

Photo: Creative Commons
MTN, the continent's largest telecommunication service provider.

MTN, Globacom, Airtel, Etisalat and Visafone are losing about N8 billion daily revenue to the recent bombing of their facilities in the northern parts of the country.

The operators are losing money on their voice, short message service (SMS) and internet data traffic which pass through their network both on the microwave and fibre optic backbones.

The bombings carried out by Boko Haram, a terrorist group seeking the islamisation of the country led to the collapse of the mobile telecommunications providers' network in north east Nigeria. The group had in April this year threatened to attack any telecommunications service provider working with the security agencies to track their members through the triangulation of the telecom masts to trace the location and use of wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) digital mapping to pinpoint the whereabouts of a phone user.

According to LEADERSHIP source, "We are losing about N1.5 billion daily to the attacks. Some mobile station controllers (MSCs) which control about 15 to 220 base transceiver stations (BTSs) were knocked out thereby affecting a large number of base stations that were not destroyed by the terrorists' attacks." He said the attacks on the mobile operators' facilities impacted on the data traffic relayed by both fibre optic backbone and microwave backbones which feed the base stations with traffic. A look at the operators' subscriber base show that MTN controls 48 per cent of the telecom market with 43 million subscribers followed by Globacom with 22 million, Airtel with 20 million while Etisalat has 13 million subscribers respectively. This revenue loss excludes the cost of each base station and office that were damaged by the attacks which is estimated to run into hundreds of millions of dollars. An average base station costs about $150,000 while controller stations (MSCs) worth about $500,000 to $1million depending on the number of vertical and parabolic antennas on the masts.

External relation manager, Mr. Funso Aina on behalf of Mrs. Funmi Omogbenigun, general manager, corporate communications, MTN Nigeria issued a statement last Thursday stating that "We confirm that like all the other major operators telecom operators, some of MTN's installations in northern Nigeria have been damaged by unknown persons. All the relevant government security agencies have been informed and we are receiving their full cooperation."

Another source at Airtel Nigeria said the operator will today (Monday) issue a statement which will state the financial impact of the terrorists attacks on its business. According to the last subscriber identification module (Sim) card registration carried by contractors on behalf of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), 1, 776, 657 subscribers were registered in the north east by Data Group IT Limited out of 22.83 million nationwide.

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