Monday, August 03, 2009

NCC dispels rumour over NITEL SAT-3 cut

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has dispelled the rumours making a round that the Nigerian Telecommunications Plc (NITEL) part of the SAT-3 cable was cut due to unpaid debt profile.

ITRealms Online recalls that the media was awash last weekend concerning the cutting of SAT-3 submarine cable adducing various reasons for the ‘disrupted services on Sat – 3 Fibre Cable.’

In its response, NCC through the Head, Public Affairs, Mr. Reuben Muoka, noted that various concerns have been expressed by users and members of the public who fear the impact such disruption could have on telecommunications services.

According to him, NCC is equally concerned and sympathized with those going through some hardship directly, because of service disruptions at the moment.

He pointed out that based on NCC’s investigations, NCC denied any cutting of NITEL wing of the cable in the first instance.

“We want to confirm that no damage has been done to the Nitel Sat – 3 Cable at this time and as such services on the platform have not been affected,” he stated.

NCC, however, confirmed reports of cable cut on the Cotonou link of the Sat – 3 Cable and “this unfortunately has affected services in Nigeria for the reason that Suburban Telecom, a Nigerian service provider, that is connected to Sat-3 at the Cotonou end, from where it runs services into Nigeria.”

Further, he explained that based on the above, getting a link from Cotonou enabled Suburban to introduce an alternative access to NITEL Sat-3 at very competitive pricing, which in turn has attracted a lot of customers to its platform, which include major commercial enterprises, financial houses and some telecommunications operators located in some major cities of the country.

This is the reason the effect of this disruption has been noticed almost immediately in Nigeria because of the fairly huge usage the Suburban link connected through the Cotonou Sat -3 Fibre cable.

Even as Suburban assured the Commission that efforts are being made to carry out immediate repairs, stressing that the company has informed the Commission that the Cotonou Sat -3 managers have been contacted by them and they have made urgent international arrangements to fix the problem. Unfortunately, the ship coming to Cotonou to carry out the under-sea job will pass through Cape Town and that will take about two weeks.

Mr. Muoka said that in the mean time, efforts are being made by both Suburban and Cotonou operators to lease capacity from either NITEL or the operator in Ivory Coast.

“Such efforts are intended to give immediate relief to the customers,” he said.

Additionally, he said, NCC is monitoring the situation closely and is ready to make intervention that would favour the service users, pointing out that this would include, “but not limited to encouraging the international cable operators to have an arrangement whereby if there is cable cut in one country, subscribers can be immediately switched to the cable infrastructure of a neighbouring country.”

This, he said, is similar to what happens in the aviation industry where if one airline has a problem with its aircraft, its customers could immediately be endorsed to other airlines.

Such an arrangement between Suburban and NITEL, NCC explained, could in future be highly beneficial to both companies and ensure a higher quality of service in the industry.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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