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Force majeure imminent on telecom services near land borders—ALTON

The Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) Wednesday announced that the continued restriction of discharge of petroleum products in filling stations within 20km radius to the land borders has started affecting Base Transceiver Stations (BTSs) and masts within the border communities.

Recall that the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), had on November 6, 2019, issued a memo to all border commands to disallow discharge of petroleum products in any filling station located within 20km to the Nigerian land border as a way of controlling smuggling of the products outside the country.

Addressing journalists, the Chairman of ALTON, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, revealed that several BTSs have started shutting down as the fuel in their respective generator tanks dry up, warning that the development may force operators to declare force majeure in coming days if nothing drastic is done by the Federal Government.

ALTON boss, however, used the occasion to inform Nigerians on the planned celebration of 20 years of uninterrupted telecoms services by its members to Nigerians which is billed for MUSON Centre, Victoria Island on Friday evening in Lagos.

Adebayo thanked the Nigerian media profusely on their support over the last 20 years, saying “I use this opportunity to the Nigerian ICT media for your support over the last 20 years and for telling the good story about the sector and the impact we have made on our national socio—economic development.”

“This Association was formed in 1999, then known as the National Association of Telecom Operators (NALTO) and incorporated in the year 2000 as the Association Of License Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) a corporate body, duly registered under the laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria as an Incorporated Trustee, and officially recognized by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Nigerian Communications Commission and other regulatory agencies as the industry body for all providers of telecommunications and subsidiary services in Nigeria.

“We were never a subsidiary of any group of Association and neither were we at any point in time a sub-set of another Association.

“Our founding fathers, some of who are still with us, constituted the association to address the peculiar early challenges faced by Private Telecom Operators (PTO) as they were called at the time, some of these were issues of signaling protocol issues, interconnectivity, billing issues, multiple regulation and taxation issues of right of way and protection of the overall interest of private investors in the sector, which at the time, NITEL the incumbent did everything possible to frustrate their existence.

“Membership of the Association includes all the major telecommunications licensees in Nigeria, particularly Mobile Network Operators (MNO) Infrastructure Companies (Infrocos) Fixed and Mobile Fixed voice and data operators across the various segments are all members of ALTON.

Adebayo recalled that “Since inception, ALTON continues to play a key role in market development of the telecommunications industry. Its intervention on behalf of members on several issues such as challenges of multiple taxation, multiple regulations, rates and tariff determination, market competition, unfavorable government policies, Telecommunications as Critical National Infrastructure has been of immense benefit to the Nigerian telecommunications industry at large.”

He thanked all the pioneer members of the Board of Trustees and Executive Members, industry regulatory agencies for their policy regulatory intelligence and constant revolution in churning out new polices as the industry evolves from year to year and technology to technology.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman, Technical Committee of ALTON, Aremu Olajide, said ALTON will still take up the issue of USSD charges, insisting that network operators will never give free USSD links to services for which the banks charges fee.

He decried the inability of the Federal Government to call for stakeholders meeting where the issue would be discussed and ironed out for the interest of every party in the matter and made it clear that “The issue of service charge on USSD links is not yet over.”

Also speaking, ALTON Head, Operations, Mr. Gbolahon Awonuga called for more protection of telecoms infrastructure, saying time has come for operators to be taking every inventory of their losses especially those coming on the heels of government inadequacies for possible trade-off in taxes and related fees.