By Tabora Bojang
Amid continuous malicious acts against the country’s internet fibre infrastructure, regulators Pura in partnership with the newly established Ministry of Information and Digital Economy yesterday converged internet service providers, GSM operators and other stakeholders to investigate and ascertain the root causes of frequent fibre cuts and suggest recommendations for optimisation to curb what they call an ‘unfortunate situation.’
Over 1,000 kilometres of optical fibre network infrastructures were deployed by Gamtel across the county in a bid to deliver quality networks to ICT customers, which is also leased by all telecom network operators to transport voice and data services as their primary transmission medium.
“However lately, there have been persistent fibre cuts by various activities, posing many challenges to the players in the industry and causing hardship in meeting the network quality expectation of their customers,” Pura Director General Yusupha M Jobe told participants at the meeting held at the Ocean Bay Hotel.
He lamented further that the ICT sector has been faced with several challenges both in the deployment as well as maintenance of the fibre cable infrastructure. ”Persistent fibre cuts have been the most significant challenging issue to deal with by the telecom companies in the industry in The Gambia today. The fibre cut is having a tremendous negative effect on quality-of-service delivery and customer experience. Besides these, other mandatory key performance indicators relative to industrial standards such as availability, reliability, call set-up success rate, call congestion rate, call drop rate as well as subscriber connectivity for both voice and data are significantly impacted due to frequent fibre cut phenomenon,” he said.
According to Jobe, these seemingly wide scale acts of vandalism seriously affect landlines and mobile networks and cause internet outages and slowdown socio-economic activities.
He described the engagement as one of the first steps that will provide remedial solutions to the problem by establishing the causes of fibre cut and understand whether they are deliberate or accidental and establish the gravity of their impacts.
“In this day and age, it is almost mandatory to be connected to the ICT services at all times. That includes your phone, internet, TVs, ATMs, Banks, Forex Bureaus, and other devices as they all connect to the internet, the World Wide Web.The purpose of this workshop is for stakeholders to discuss and understand the root causes of these persistent fibre cuts in the telecom industry in The Gambia. It is with a stronger conviction that the outcome of the discussions when implemented will improve on the general network and quality of service delivery of the various network operators in the country which are attributed to frequent fibre cuts as well as reduce their cost of operations, improve quality of service and customer satisfaction,” DG Jobe added.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy Amie Njie-Joof said the stakeholder engagement comes at a time when the government reviews the 2009 ICT Act which will provide opportunities to strengthen laws dealing with fibre cuts or damages critical to the ICT sector.
PS Njie-Joof commended Gamtel for their tremendous efforts during fibre cuts and downtimes to restore connectivity.
“These young engineers go through a lot of risks in trenches to repair our critical infrastructure,” she said.