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Vandalism costs TelOne US$1m annually

by Staff reporter
24 May 2022 at 07:20hrs | Views
TELECOMMUNICATIONS operator, TelOne, has embarked on a drive to provide wireless or optic fibre network solutions to replace copper installations which have been a target of vandalism across the country, crippling service delivery in the process.

The company reports that it is losing an average of US$1 million every year as replacement costs and funds injected to curb the vandalism.

TelOne head of corporate communications, Ms Melody Harry, confirmed that incidents of vandalism of the telecommunications infrastructure have been on an increase countrywide and going wireless was part of the long-term solutions.

"The company has been grappling with network vandalism over the past five years with nearly all the urban and rural areas countrywide recording vandalism incidents.

Provision of network solutions such as wireless or optic fibre that are less susceptible to vandalism is ongoing in different areas countrywide," she said.

This year alone, TelOne intends to roll out 40 base stations.

The vandals are targeting mostly copper installations that constitute 60 percent of the network.

The development comes on the backdrop of an increase in demand for high-quality broadband services in the country as the country slowly marches towards a digital economy in line with NDS1.

Illicit copper dealers are the key drivers of vandalism as they supply the product to the world market where copper remains in short supply, hence it fetches more.

Although the incidents were at their peak in 2018 when 392 cases were recorded, the first quarter of 2022 has so far recorded 116 incidents of live network vandalism representing a 9 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

The cases have been bleeding the company of huge sums of money, according to Ms Harry.

"TelOne incurs huge costs in the form of replacement costs and funds injected to curb the vandalism with an estimated revenue loss averaging US$1 million annually.

However, the biggest loss to the company from acts of vandalism is the business lost due to voice and internet service disruptions also prejudicing our valued clients and negatively impacting the reputation of the company," she said.

TelOne compensates all clients who would face downtime due to network vandalism.

As part of immediate measures to curb the scourge, TelOne continues with deployment of security systems and guards to protect the network, engage in joint operations with stakeholders to coordinate efforts in fighting vandalism of state property as well as carrying out awareness campaigns as well as community engagements to raise awareness on network vandalism and to flash out suspects by the public.

"The company also has a reward scheme in place as an incentive to members of the public who provide valuable information that leads to the identification and arrest of suspects.

"In line with that, TelOne collaborates with the judiciary to ensure that suspects are charged under the appropriate Act that stipulates a mandatory 10-year term for those found guilty," she said.

The company also continues with the hardening of targeted infrastructure like manholes and cabinets to make it difficult for criminals to attack.

According to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), the country's internet penetration has jumped above 60 percent, as the Government intensifies efforts to increase digital connectivity, which is vital in building a vibrant digital economy but the development remains a stumbling block towards the achievement.

Source - The Chronicle
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