The federal government has been urged to hasten to the call by stakeholders and mobile phone operators to accord telecoms installations in the country the status of critical national infrastructure.
The Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Mr. Okechukwu Itanyi, made the call at the weekend in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State during the 60th edition of Consumer Outreach Progamme with the theme, 'Protection of Telecoms Infrastructure'. Itanyi, who was represented by the Assistant Director, Consumer Affairs of the Commission, Mr. Femi Atoyebi, said soon it would be an offence in the country for anybody to tamper with telecoms infrastructure when a bill before the National Assembly is passed into law.
He decried the continuous vandalisation of telecommunications infrastructure in the country, saying, "Vandalising of telecoms infrastructure and equipment has become a worrisome development emerging in Nigeria's highly competitive telecoms market."
According to him, challenges in the industry revolve around tariff and quality of service, power and most especially, vandalism of telecoms infrastructure.
Vandalisation, he said, apart from causing poor quality service, network outage, loss of revenue, loss of jobs and loss of human lives in some instances, could also send negative signals to investors that Nigeria is not a safe place to do business. "People don't want to come to a country where the infrastructure will be vandalised and this is not good for our economy, so we must all be involved in making our economy grow".
Vandalising of telecoms infrastructure and equipment has become a worrisome development emerging in Nigeria's highly competitive telecoms market, recalling that the entire telecoms sector had been massively shaken over an attack on telecom operators' Base Transceiver in some States of Northern Nigeria.
"When the news broke of the attack on telecoms operators' Base Transceivers Station (a critical network component required to deliver telecoms services) by insurgents, a large number of telecoms masts belonging to MTN, Glo and Airtel, Etisalat, Multilinks and infrastructure providers, Helios Towers, were targeted and destroyed by the assailants."
"The spate of bomb attacks on installations, infrastructure and the recent floods which destroyed equipments and slowed down expansion projects is contributing to poor quality of service", he stressed.
Earlier, the Director of Technical Standards and Network Integrity of the NCC, Babalarabe Sani, lamented that there are over 1,200 cases of fibre cut due to road constructions and prevalent cases of fibre cut by criminals.
He appealed to Nigerians to assist in the protection of ICT facilities in order for the service providers to render efficient services. "You have to assist because when you assist, you are assisting yourselves", he said.