NCC to decommission 693 abandoned telecoms masts

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) may decommission about 693 telecoms masts alleged to have been abandoned in several parts of the country.

NCC however, gave owners of the mast 90-days to rehabilitate, commence usage or dismantle and remove the masts/towers from the relevant locations.

Though the Commission was not forthcoming about the operators that are likely to own the masts, but further checks showed that larger percentage of the abandoned masts might belong to some Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operators, such as Starcomms, Multilinks, Reltel/Zoom, among others.

The commission in a public notice titled: “First phase of Decommissioning/Dismantling of Abandoned Masts/Towers in the Country,” published on its website, dated August 9, 2019, said it has identified several abandoned telecommunication masts and towers located in various parts of the country.

According to the telecoms regulator, failure to maintain these structures over long periods of time has resulted in their technical failure and constant vandalisation with negative consequences on public health and safety.

In certain locations, NCC said it observed that criminals took advantage of these abandoned structures to host illegal broadcast equipment for relaying subversive messages against the State.

NCC in the document, which was signed by its Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, said it issued guidelines on technical specifications for the Installation of Telecommunications Masts and Towers in 2009 to provide for various issues including the appropriate maintenance of telecommunications masts and towers.

In line with the provision of the Guidelines, “owners of the listed abandoned masts and towers are hereby given notice to rehabilitate, commence usage or dismantle and remove the masts/towers from the relevant locations within 90 days of the publication of this notice.”

The Commission noted that where there is a failure to comply with the directive, it shall exercise its regulatory mandate by taking necessary steps to decommission / dismantle the relevant abandoned masts/towers.

NCC said affected licensees will also be required to reimburse the Commission for expenses in this regard, in addition to the payment of a fine as provided in Chapter 5(4)(d) of the Guidelines.

The Guardian checks showed that about 210 telecommunications masts may be decommissioned in the South West, while 159 are in the South East. In the South South, 147 masts are to be brought down.

From the North West region, 65 abandoned masts will be brought down; North East has 48 to be brought down and in the North Central, 64 telecoms mast may be brought down.

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