How tech helped tower operators curb generators, diesel theft

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WHEN Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications and code division multiple access (CDMA) operators were in control of their telecom towers there were outcries over incessant theft of generators and diesel even with security guards on duty.
The theft at base stations and activities of miscreants that make it difficult to access towers to carry out maintenance are part of the reasons why operators decided to hands off the ownership of towers and sold them to telecom infrastructure providers.
Investigations revealed that immediately infrastructure providers the like of Helios Tower, IHS, ATC among others took over the ownership of these towers that they seek solution to the theft of generators and diesel, which to them if allowed to continue will create a hole in their revenue and make nonsense of the initiative.
They adopted a technological approach by deploying a remote monitoring solution which uses internet connectivity allows designated officers of the tower owners to monitor activities at the towers from their computer or smartphones.
Staffs of one of the tower operators that spoke to who do not want his name on print, said: “With this remote monitoring solution that allows us to monitor activities at the towers, theft of generators and diesel have now been made insignificant. That is no longer a headache to us; our challenge now is cost of maintenance”.
Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications operators of Nigeria (ALTON) said that the development is a testimony that the country’s telecommunications industry is responding to the dynamics of global economic trends, which makes operators more efficient as they focus on the core competent of service delivery.
He added that the move will create more jobs as it encourages springing up of supportive players in the industry. “This is also fallout of our internal regulatory mechanism to ensure growth in the industry. More so, tower sale could be as a result of administrative reasons, cost reduction or shareholders decision,” he said.
He noted that, the sale of towers by operators will not only translate to improved quality of service in the industry but will also shift the burden to other operators which has given rise to adoption of technological solution that has reduced theft of generators and diesel at towers.
“The environmental issues are still there and we are tackling it through engagement with state government in the smart city initiative being driven by ministry of Communications that educate state governments on the benefits of telecommunications service over internally generated revenue,” he stated.
He added that mobile telecommunications operators in the country require over 180,000 base stations to effectively cover the country with improved quality of service.