The Challenges of Co-location Technology in Nigeria
Spencer Itive | MCP, PMP, COREN |
The introduction of co-location technology as a way of mitigating at least the challenges of deploying telecoms services in Nigeria is yet to yield fully the expected desired results.
This is because Telecoms Operators instead of leveraging infrastructures sharing in its full potential, have continually undermined the benefits accrued from it.
This has left deployment of GSM services huge challenges which this paper will critically term to examine.
Nigerians embraced the Global System for mobile communications (GSM) when it was introduced far back 2001. This was because the citizens have been starved of mobile communication and often thought it was alien to them for years.
As they basked in this euphoria, the number of subscribers began to increase but without a commensurate significant increase in infrastructures rollout to withstand this growth level of subscribers.
Telecoms operators however, blamed the situation on government’s negligence in building infrastructures for network rollout. This, the operators complained has left them investing their hard earned profit in infrastructures rollout such as building and installing base stations and general operations of these sites.
However, the advent of colocation technology brought massive transformation in this sector as well as provided respite for telecoms operators. Here, telecoms services providers routinely enter into agreements with one another to share networks and other assets. These arrangements facilitate interconnection between network; satisfy mandated asset sharing required by law or regulatory authority in order to promote competition; and help carriers maximize their use of assets, manage risk and build business cases with improved returns on investment.
Colocation technology is a system that allows telecoms operators to share some type of physical space with other operator(s) , often competing operators. Colocation services provide significant technical and cost advantage in managing telecoms business. The bulk of colocation services entails collaborating to share either the active elements (the physical network) or the passive elements of their base station, which include the physical tower structure, security and diesel- powered generating sets, amongst others.
Colocation, which is a “cost reduction model”, is the provision of space for a customer’s telecommunications equipment on the service provider’s premises. Basically, there are two options of colocation technology for telecoms operators:
- Third party service provider, provides a site and facilities, for instance, a tower for one or more operators to mount their equipment like radios and antennas.
- Operator to operator agreements, where an operator offers one or more operators a space in his location / premises to share some infrastructure .
The cost of sharing facilities and colocating is reasonable compared to the cost of building one’s own infrastructure, hence a faster return on investment and an opportunity to focus more on core business of the companies which is providing quality telecom services.
The following are the list of co-location independent service providers in Nigeria:
- Helios Towers Nigeria limited, HTN
- IHS Towers Plc – Tower of Strength
- Basnik Telecoms
- Swap Technologies Limited
- American Towers Company, ATC
- Netcom African Ltd.
- High operational costs in the Nigeria Environment due to poor availability of power. Poor grid availability makes investments in transformers and grid connection non-economical.
- Lack of good quality diesel.
- Lack of timely delivery of diesel to site due to activities of miscreants or Area Boys on sites.
- Lack of proper operational template for sites.
- Lack of adequate implementation of the regulation and legislation by the governing body.
- Lack of patronage by some operators.
- Multiple taxation fees and levies, prohibitive charges to procure right of way.
- Activities of Host communities.
- High CAPEX.
- Fear of sabotage from perceived competitors.
- Generating sets.
- Transformers (PHCN)
- Shelter space
- Security personnels
- Security/guard hut
- Air conditioners (in case of indoor)
- Towers /mast structures
- Rack space
- Shelter/equipment plinth
- D.C source
- Transmission link – cables, fibres , etc
- Earthing protection system
- Access road
- Site space
- Network operating centre, NOC
- Maintenance personnels
- Power Interface Unit, PIU
- Uninterrupted Power Supply, UPS
BENEFITS OF COLOCATION
- Telecoms operators can achieve up to 60 percent OPEX and CAPEX reduction as Co-location services are efficient.
- Reduces proliferation of masts.
- It enhances service quality.
- Reduces noise and air pollution round sites/environment.
- Reduces business risks.
- It enhances healthy competition amongst telecoms operators leading to reduction in call tariffs.
- Increased entry speed for new telecoms service providers.
- It enhances customer satisfaction.
- It improves the economy.
The opportunity has now come for telecoms service providers to stop the blame game and the unnecessary battle for superiority and supremacy , and embrace fully the co-location technology. These arrangements facilitate interconnection of networks, satisfy mandated asset sharing required by law or regulatory authority in order to promote healthy competition and improve service quality , and help them maximize their use of assets, manage risk and build business cases with improved returns on investment.