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ISPs lament poor service, high rentals for towers

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country are lamenting over the poor services being delivered by telecommunications tower operators as well as the high cost of renting towers hosting their base stations.

According to Satis Kumar, chief operating officer, Direct On Data, the ISPs are burdened with the harsh business condition, which includes high base station rentals, and inefficient tower management that have forced them into deploying batteries at their base stations to ensure improved service quality among other challenges.

“Most times, our base stations go down apparently because the attendant is not around to put on the generator when the public power supply goes off, and sometimes there are diesel issues. Some of our clients are providing critical services that don’t need to go down even for a second. How do you explain this situation?”

Kumar revealed that ISPs are charged between N3.6 million to N4 million per tower for a year, adding that this cost depends on the type of the equipment being hung on the tower as some equipment consume more power than others, and some take more space than others.

David Venn, chief executive officer, Spectranet, a 4G LTE ISP, explained that before now, their biggest cost outlay was the cost of national and international bandwidth.

“But today, the cost of bandwidth is coming down which leaves the cost of tower rental our biggest cost of operation.

Though the cost of tower rental in Nigeria is high compared to other countries I have worked, considering operational cost in this environment in terms of maintenance of the towers, it is reasonable.

But in Zambia where there is also power challenge, there is no need for operators to provide security at towers as security challenge is not serious.”

Sunday Folayan, president, Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) said that tower rental cost in the country will not be cheap as it is determined by some factors which include a number of users on the tower as well as power and security provided at the towers.

“I’m not surprised that tower rental cost is high because the cost of powering base stations with generators is high.

If we fix power problem in this country, every other thing will take shape,” Folayan added.

Lanre Ajayi, immediate past president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), identified two factors as responsible for the high cost of tower rental in the country, which is competition and service cost.

“Competition in the co-location business is not deep enough to bring about reduced cost and efficient management. Currently, there are few companies providing co-location facilities in the country,” Ajayi said.

He stressed that high cost of tower rental is also occasioned by service cost provided at the base stations such as power and security.

“Most base stations are powered by generators and the cost of gas is high, and they provide security at the towers. These are outside the control of co-location operators,” he said.

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