MTN, a major carrier in the South African market, closed 53 cell tower base stations permanently as a result of damage and vandalism, with another 89 cell towers awaiting repair and replacements for stolen batteries, according to IT Online.
The company’s GM of Network Operations, Ernest Paul, said in the first half of the year, the cost to the industry has reached an “unsustainable tipping-point.” The damage to towers and infrastructure is outpacing the cost of repairing and replacing batteries and equipment, Paul said. The damage being done is so destructive, hundreds of towers around the country may be shut down permanently.
“The industry is under pressure to deal not only with improving security to curb theft of batteries and vandalism, but also having to pay increasing amounts to replace batteries and repair damage,” Paul told IT-Online. “These costs to date have been incurred by the network operators but may need to be passed on to the consumer if the mounting theft continues.”
“This situation leaves many South Africans without access to network services either because of downtime caused by repeated maintenance and repairs or in the extreme case of towers being terminated, where the regular theft and vandalism renders towers unsustainable. This impacts consumers’ access to emergency services, effective business operations and connecting with loved ones,” says Paul.
August 19, 2019