Service providers endorse ban on erection of masts

SOME telecommunication companies in the country have endorsed the decision of the government to place a temporary ban on the erection of telecom towers in the country.
They said they were in support of any action that would bring sanity to the mounting of the towers which would ultimately strengthen the telecom infrastructure base of the country.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Corporate Affairs Executive of MTN, Ms Mawuena Dumor, said the company would collaborate with the government on the issue and all other operational issues to support efforts at improving the overall network infrastructure deployment and quality of its telecom services.
She said the bulk of the company’s investment in the last two years had been in infrastructure, adding that, “We have concentrated on fibre roll out, a new technology and equipment to help us reach even more rural and remote areas.”
She stated that the company was supporting the smooth roll-out of cell sites (towers) through Co-location with other service providers. “It is indeed our current position to share our roll-out plans with competitors to encourage Co-location.”
“The total number of sites that have been identified voluntarily to be shared with Zain, TiGo and Vodafone is 150.”
Ms Dumor said the company was collaborating with the National Communications Authority (NCA), the metropolitan assemblies, the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology, as well as all other stakeholders, to ensure that the directive received the necessary consideration and consultation so that all would achieve the expected results at the end.
The Corporate Communications Manager of Vodafone, Mr Isaac Abraham, told the Daily Graphic that the company remained committed to any decision aimed at streamlining the telecom industry in the country.
Mr Abraham said, “If the authorities have recognised a need to put in place measures to regulate the mounting of masts, we are also for it,” adding that “this will go a long way towards strengthening the framework for permit request, fees charged and ultimately help in the deployment process”.
He said the company had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with TiGo to share each other’s mast throughout the country “in an effort to reduce the springing up of masts throughout the country”.
When contacted, the Managing Director of Kasapa, Mr Robert Palitz, was rather tight-lipped, saying he had “no comment on the issue for now”, he was, however quoted in another media as saying that “the action will affect expansion of mobile phone services to rural areas.” “He also said it will be difficult for GSM service providers in the cities. They will have problems with coverage when their lines are jammed.” Mr Palitz was quoted to had said.
A highly placed source at Globacom Limited who spoke to the Daily Graphic on condition of anonymity said the directive would affect the company as it is now putting up the structures to start operating in Ghana, unlike its competitors who alredy have structures on the ground.
The source said the company would remain committed to any decision taken by the inter-sectorial committee set up to develop guideliness to streamline the mounting of the telecom towers.
The Marketing Manager for Tigo, Ms Wolasi Kanda told the Daily Graphic, “Tigo will release a press statement on the issue by close of day tommorrow (Thurday).
When contact on the issue, the Director of Special Projects for the National Communication Authority, Major Emmanuel Owusus-Adansi (rtd) said the commitee tasked to develop the regulatory framework for erecting the masts had gone far with its work.
Giving some areas covered by the draft, he said it looked at issues concerning ;the location of masts, time requirement for specific agencies to issue their permit, permit requirments, town planning needs, health and safety needs, monitoring procedures on the installations of the mast and the legal backbone for the guideline.
He said when completed,” the guideline would streamline procedures for permiting of the masts to make it more transparent adding that the the guideline also took care of issues concerning co-location or sharing of mast by the mobile comnpanies which he said was already being implemented by some of the companies.
Major Owusus-Adansi (rtd) said the commitee’s terms of reference included Provision of clear standards and prcedures for the installation of Masts / Towers and also address the issues of environmental sanity, establishment of clear rules of engagement for all stakeholders, indicating the specific requirements for installation of Masts/Towers by all and designing a fair and open cost-based fee policy which would ensure that all sectors of the economy are charged fairly by the relevant permitting authorities in addition to facilitating the development of infrastructure to enhance the delivery of quality of service and also promote the provision of competitive ana affordable services nationwide.
He said there would be a workshop on February 11, 2010 to enable players in the industry meet and discuss all the outstanding issues concerning the guideline.
He said part of the problem of the masts erection had been because town planning had not catered for the needs of such structures in the country in addition to the inadequate high rise buildings in the country where telecom antenaes could be mounted.
He said issues concerning the mounting of masts should be looked at carefully because without the adequate masts in the system, the public’s cry for quality phone service could not be achieved.
Major Owusu-Adansi (rtd) said after the completion of the guideline, there would be massive public education that would adress the concerns of the public about the towers.
The Daily Graphic of Monday, February 1, 2010 reported the decision the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology (MEST) to temporary suspend the mounting of telecom towers. The directive was contained in a letter dated January 12, 2010 and addressed to the Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA).

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