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Vandalism hits TelOne hard

by Staff reporter
08 Jul 2022 at 07:37hrs | Views
TELECOMS giant TelOne is incurring huge costs due to vandalism of its telecommunications infrastructure, with the estimated revenue losses averaging US$1 million annually.

TelOne corporate communications head Melody Harry said between January and June, the company was prejudiced of US$292 620 in terms of potential revenue loss. This represented a 64% surge on prior comparable period.

In terms of equipment lost, TelOne lost a network valued at US$362 460, representing a 15% increase when compared to the same period last year. Harry said incidents of vandalism of its telecommunications infrastructure have been on the increase, with a total of 29 000 customers being affected by vandalism-induced downtime in the first half of the year.

This represents a 74% surge in customers affected in prior comparable periods.

Vandals mostly target copper installations that currently make up more than 60% of the network.

"This five-year-old problem has put the business under threat, with at least US$1,5 million having been recorded in lost revenue and network elements for the period ended December 31, 2021," she said.

Harry said the biggest loss to the company from acts of vandalism has been the business lost due to voice and internet service disruptions also prejudicing its valued clients and negatively impacting its reputation.

In the first six months of the year 2022, TelOne recorded a total of 196 incidents of live network vandalism representing an increase of 18% when compared to a similar period in 2021.

The TelOne spokesperson said to date, a total of 28 vandals have been arrested compared to 23 arrests that were made in the first six months of 2021. Out of these arrests, eight of the suspects were sentenced to the mandatory 10-year jail term by the courts.

"We expect the conviction rate to rise once the Copper Amendment Bill — which seeks a minimum of 30 years' imprisonment for convicted copper thieves, among other requirements — gets presidential assent in the second half of 2022. This legislative piece sailed through the National Assembly last month," she said.

To curb the vice, TelOne has, among other things, deployed security alarm systems and guards to protect the network, conducting awareness campaigns, launching a reward scheme, collaborations with the judiciary and replacement of copper network with fibre as a long-term solution.

Source - NewsDay Zimbabwe