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Revealed: Why you can’t make, receive calls in Lagos markets’

*NCC set to arrest offenders’ in ASPMDA, BBA

*Alaba International complies

Clear explanation has emerged on why leading commercial hubs in Lagos have been suffering network issues that frustrate making or receiving telephone calls inside some markets in the state.

Majority of the affected markets include trading plazas in Lagos Trade Fair complex, Alaba International, Article Dealers Association, parts of Lagos Island, Computer Village, Ladipo, Tejuosho and other highly populated commercial centres in Lagos State.

Investigations carried out by Markets Business Hilights showed that due to rising frustrations and complaints by traders and customers in the markets to network operators including MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9Mobile and other Internet Services providers (ISPs), the telecom giants cried out to the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

In an interview, the NCC’s Zonal Controller for Lagos State, Mr. Henry Ojiokpota, explained that “The commission as part of its regulatory functions mandated its spectrum Monitoring team to investigate the cause of the network degradation performance by conducting a Radio Frequency Interference Scanning exercise in Alaba international market, Ojo town Lagos. The team traced and found sources of unauthorised radio emission causing interference to the numerous offending GSM signal boosters within the Alaba international market, Ojo town, Lagos as the main cause of interferences and degradation on the operators’ network performance.”

According to him, before conducting the Radio Frequency Interference Scanning exercise, “There had been complaints lodged by Licensed Telecoms Service Providers (MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9Mobile) in Nigeria to the NCC on the degradation in the performance of their networks as a result of interference from offending signal transmitted from GSM signal boosters at the markets in Lagos.

In an official letter to the leadership of Alaba International Market, dated July 30th, 2019, seen by our correspondent, and addressed to Hon. Pastor Paulinus Ugochukwu, Chairman, Alaba International Market (Electronics), Ojiokpota said “Consequent upon the foregoing, you are requested to direct all owners and operators of the offending GSM signal boosters to decommission the offending GSM signal boosters within the market on or before August 15th, 2019.”

In the letter captioned; OFFENDING TELECOMMUNICATION ANTENNA BOOSTER IN ALABA INTERNATIONAL MARKET, OJO, LAGOS STATE, the telecoms regulator warned clearly that “The above must be adhered to with immediate effect as further breach will not be condoned, else the commission will be left with no other choice than to mandate its Enforcement team to forcefully confiscate all the offending signal booster and prosecute offenders in accordance with the Nigerian Communications Act of 2003.”

Though the letter was addressed to Alaba International market only, the challenge of network access is felt in every mega markets in Lagos due to installation of GSM boosters by major shop owners as a way of remedying the network issues.

Whereas a member of Taskforce in Alaba revealed to our correspondent that every trader has complied by removing the boosters, business owners in ASPMDA and BBA in Lagos trade fair complex said they can only uninstall the boosters as soon as networks’ or the regulator have approached them with clear evidence of adequate upgraded to contain millions of traffics in the markets.

They argued that even before they went to China to import GSM boosters, they had cried to networks to upgrade their networks, but networks trivialized their appeals for masts upgrade. They therefore insisted that before compliance, there must be credible evidence from networks and even the regulator that quality of service in the markets has stabilized.

However, sources at NCC confided in our correspondent that the enforcement division of the Commission will soon invade the markets for arrest of GSM boosters offenders’ and dismantling of the signals in line with the provisions of the Commission’s Establishment Act 2003.