Telecom operators have threatened to shut down network services in six states over the affected states’ government’s decision to close Base Transceiver Stations (BTS).
The BTS, popularly called ‘masts’, is the networking equipment of telecommunications service providers from which all signals are sent and received.
The Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, who made the threat while addressing a press conference on the state of the industry yesterday, identified the states as Ogun, Ondo, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Osun and Kaduna.
Engr. Adebayo said the governments of the aforementioned states are treating telecoms industry as an extractive sector by imposing myriads of taxes on telecom operators and closing down the BTS sites arbitrarily.
He alleged that many sites in the listed states have been shut down or about to be shut by agents of government not minding the security and economic implications on their states, warning that ALTON has resolved that its members will not reopen any sites closed by state or local government authority.
“The arbitrary sites closure without following the Nigeria Communications Commission, (NCC) guidelines and best practices will no longer be tolerated”, he added.
Adebayo noted that members continue to record cases of sites closures in many states in an attempt to force telecom operators to pay local taxes and levies.
According to the ALTON chairman, some of these levies and taxes are multiple in nature because most of them are only aimed toward telecom operators.
He said, “We are considering very carefully the situation of site closure and harassment of our members in some of those states and we may begin anytime soon to have them feel the impact of their actions on telecom operators if they do not desist from deliberate disruption of our operations”.
He said ALTON will serve the necessary warnings and if such practices continue: “we are then faced with two options: first is to pay the charges by such state government, and to increase the tariff chargeable for calls originating and terminating from networks in such states: With all the attendant service delivery issues.
“Where such actions on the part of government continue: we shall then advise all our members, after due consultation with relevant authorities, because of the security and economic implications, to shut down the entire network in such state for one full day as a final warning to such state or local government area. Enough is enough”.
Adebayo also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to place a presidential declaration on “telecom Infrastructure as Critical National Security and Economic Infrastructure” as provided by the cybercrime law of 2015.