The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it expects there to be some 40,000 GSM base stations in the country by 2010, along with around 10,000 CDMA towers. At the moment, there are approximately 10,000 GSM towers and 2,000 CDMA stations. Ernest Ndukwe, the regulator’s CEO, noted that 97% of Nigeria’s 38 million phone customers are mobile subscribers, with just 3% using landlines. However customers are still complaining about network congestion and dropped calls on mobile networks. He cited problems caused by planning controls, particularly in Lagos and Abuja, which slow down the installation of new base station antennae, as well as the unreliable power supply, that forces operators to install expensive back-up generators and fuel supplies. If these are stolen or vandalised, it can cause network problems until the cellco can investigate and repair the damage. However, Ndukwe also blamed the operators themselves, which he said have promoted excessive use of the networks before capacity was available to support them. ‘Some of the operating companies have been irresponsible with respect to forward planning and forecasting,’ said the regulator. ‘This will incur future sanctions if found to contribute to deterioration in quality of service.’ The NCC recently fined cellco Glo Mobile NGN5 million (USD40,600) for breaching an earlier ban on promotions directly encouraging subscribers to make more calls.
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