Airtel clears the air on network challenges
The management of Airtel explained to journalists at the Country Lodge in Freetown about the challenges the company is facing concerning their network.
Managing Director RVS Bhullah said as his company is the 4th largest operator in the world, they want to maintain that credibility. “We are struggling with the spectrum capacity provided by the regulatory body, NATCOM,” said Bhullah; who added that Airtel wants to make communication easier by making it available and affordable for every Sierra Leonean.
Head of Legal Regulatory, Gerald Cole said that a mobile company cannot operate without network problems. He said Airtel has given NATCOM the key resource spectrum yet still they say Airtel has poor quality service. “Airtel has asked for additional 1900 spectrum based on growth but NATCOM gave us just 1800,” he said, noting that seventy sites runs on generators.
These are the network challenges Airtel is facing presently:
- Additional spectrum in 900mhz band
- Grid Power Connection- 70% of sites without grid connection – running 24/7 on generators.
- Difficult terrain resulting in operational challenges.
- 67% increase in fuel prices from June 11 – Sept 12 with exponential increase in costs.
Airtel spent $18 million between May /June last year to date just on network upgrading.
Mr. Cole expressed regret over the challenges but said “we are working towards improving our network services before the expiration of the suspension notice,” Gerald Cole assured.
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