Business News of 2014-08-27

Poor telecom infrastructure affecting mobile users – Expert

Accessibility to several new mobile phone applications and other evolving technologies require the use of high-speed data services to enable them function to their full capacity.

However, the inability of many African countries to develop the requisite infrastructure base, being the basic requirement for technological growth, is denying many people the chance to benefit from emerging technologies, an expert in mobile network operations has indicated.

The introduction of smartphones, tablets and other mobile technologies in Europe are every so often accompanied with the corresponding data services to ensure convenient utilisation of mobile communication devices by their users.

The huge priority given to development of the telecom industry is among others attributed to the fact telecommunication networks and services are the backbone of Europe’s developing information society.

While cellular evolution has hit 4G from 2G in Europe and other continents, with the anticipation of the introduction of a 5G speed data capacity in the not too distant future, the situation in Africa appears to be different.

Telecom data subscribers have had to manage with lesser-speed data service for their advanced mobile handsets and other data-related devices because of difficulties in the attempts of most mobile network service providers to improve data services.

Although there has been some recorded growth in the development of ICT infrastructure on the continent, it must be noted that the pace of development coupled with the increasing cases of fibre-cuts among other difficulties has not allowed for the transmission of high volumes of data by mobile network operators.

For instance, in 2012 alone, the National Communication Authority (NCA) -- regulator for the telecom industry in Ghana -- revealed that there were about 1,600 cable cuts during the year, leading to the loss of GH?20million for network operators.

This development is not only unhealthy to mobile network operations in terms of loss of revenue, but also affects the quality of network operations and efforts being made to extend coverage to many other places in the country.

Mr. Raymond Folley, Network Engineer of Airtel Ghana, speaking to the media at the backdrop of the ‘Airtel Knowledge Series on Network and Data’ organised in Kumasi explained that until some significant progress is made in the provision of efficient fibre infrastructure in Ghana and the other African countries, mobile data service subscribers will be deprived from fully using advanced mobile technologies and devices.

As one of the measures to address this challenge, he said Airtel has made efforts to deploy fiber infrastructure to support the development. He disclosed that Airtel has installed metro-fibre in Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi as a key preparatory effort to position the company to be able to offer high volumes of data for it subscribers.

He said with the deployment of the metro-fibre in these three major cities of the country, Airtel will be able to operate high-speed data services -- including 4G and even 5G - if roll-out commences as a result of supporting infrastructure availability.

He however noted that it will require some period of time as well as a large amount of resources to be able to extend this development to some of the remote areas, particularly due to the huge investment associated with undertaking such projects and the quantum of civil works that need to be carried out.

It was also mentioned that despite the decrease in cable-cuts, largely due to the high media coverage of cable-theft cases and the exposure of people responsible for this criminal act, network operators are somehow challenged in extending network development to rural and remote areas.

The Airtel Knowledge Series on Network and Data is gradually becoming a leading event through which subscribers and other stakeholders are provided with necessary information on mobile data and network services. It is expected that the platform will guide subscribers and stakeholders alike to make informed choices and also help them to manage their mobile needs.

Source: B&FT
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