Telcos Concur To NCC’s Directive, Close Down Base Stations in Zamfara, Neighbouring States

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Following the directives of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to Telcos operating in some areas of the Northwest to shut down their services for two weeks over the heightened state of insecurity, most telecommunications  companies  have complied to the directives.

The president of The Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) Engr Gbenga Adebayo,has confirmed, that all the telecoms operators in the region had complied with the Federal Government’s directive to shut down telecoms services, What this involves is basically closing down the base stations within the areas involved.

The Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC)  the telecoms industry regulator,  recently, on their website,  described a base station as “a fixed transceiver that functions as the main communication point for one or more wireless mobile devices it serves as a central connection point for wireless devices to communicate.”

To consolidate on the impact of this measure, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State earlier, also announced the closure of all weekly markets in the state. This is still  part of the practical measures to address the worsening security situation in the  geo-political zone.

The governor in a letter, dated August 31, 2021, and titled, ‘Temporary Shutdown of GSM Networks’ had stated: “Following the escalation, the Zamfara State Security Council resolved that extra measures for public safety and strengthening the battle against banditry in the state should be taken.

“Accordingly, a task force was set up to ensure the new measures are enforced. The Council noted that one of the biggest hurdles to combating banditry is the issue of informers who use mobile networks to communicate with bandits about the movements of troops.

“The bandits also take advantage of the availability of the networks to coordinate their attacks.”

In the same development, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, wrote, signed, and dispatched a memo titled, “Re: Shutdown of All Telecom Sites in Zamfara State”, to the Chief Executive Officers of the concerned telecoms companies operating in Zamfara State and the neighbouring states.

“The pervading security situation in Zamfara has necessitated an immediate shutdown of all telecommunications services in the state from today, September 3, 2021.

“This is to enable relevant security agencies to carry out the required activities towards addressing the security challenge in the state,” Prof. Danbatta stated.

The EVC/CEO of the regulatory commission further said: “In line with this requirement, Globacom is hereby directed to shut down all sites in Zamfara State and any states in neighbouring states that could provide telecommunications services in Zamfara State.

“The site shut down is for two weeks from September 3 to September 17, 2021, in the first instance. Your urgent action in this regard is required.”

Given the NCC’s directive, that the Telcos act fast in this regard, ALTON disclosed that the telecoms firms “had no choice but to implement the directive of the NCC, being the regulatory authority for the telecommunications industry.”

Zamfara State, located in North-West Nigeria, has about 248 base stations, which have now been shut down, the report stated.

According to NCC in its ‘2020 Subscriber/Network Data Report’, there were a total of 33,832 towers belonging to mobile and fixed operators, collocation, and infrastructure companies in 2020, while the operators had a total of 36,998 base stations as of the time.

The report noted that Jigawa, Ebonyi, Gombe, Yobe, and Zamfara were the states with the least number of base stations, with Zamfara having 248 base stations.

It, however, listed the top five states with the highest number of towers as Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Rivers and the Federal Capital Territory.

The report quoted another industry source to have said, “Essentially, to shut down the network, you have to shut down the base stations.

“The average base station in the state is remotely controlled and it goes back to a server somewhere. If I want to shut it down, I click on the shutdown remotely.

“Every base station is saying something. So, the monitoring team can control it remotely. Note that this is a government request.

“I don’t know how the logistics will work, but every base station has a security guard on duty, running the generator every day. They will simply turn off the generator, and that is a total shutdown.”

As bandits ravage the North-West, and in line with the implementation of the NCC directive for the next 14 days, telecoms consumers in Zamfara State might be unable to make calls, send text messages (SMS), or browse the Internet. However, this is expected to turn the table against  the bandits in a matter of days.

The National Bureau of Statistics report has indicated, that Nigeria had a total of 192,413,613 active voice subscribers and 144,949,194 active Internet subscribers in the first quarter of 2021. Thus, Zamfara State with a landmass of 15,352 square miles and a population of 4,353,533, has about 2,177,431 active voice telecoms subscribers and 1,592,746 active Internet subscribers.

According to an online analyst,, for the directive to be implemented, Telcos “must shut down their base stations so that people would be unable to communicate or use the Internet” during the period.

“If all the providers shut down their base stations, it means there won’t be any communication in the state again.

“The base stations speak to one another; they are connected. It is one base station contacting the next one when you make a call and that is why it is mobile.

“So, if you shut down base stations in a state, that means there would be no communication. They won’t be able to call, send text messages or browse the Internet,” said the source.

Although some security experts have disagreed with the Federal Government over the suspension of telecommunications services in Zamfara State, others have described it as a right step in the right direction.

 


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