The Nigerian Communications Commission has unsealed a base station belonging to MTN Nigeria, a telecommunications operator.
The base station was sealed by the National Environmental Services Regulatory Agency (NESREA) on the grounds that it was too close to a residential building, being sited at EFAB Estate in Abuja.
This is not the first time the environmental agency is sealing a base station.
Last week, NESREA carried out similar activity. They sealed a base station of MTN Nigeria in Akure, the Ondo State capital, for allegedly constituting environmental hazard in the neighborhood where it is located. The Ondo State Coordinator of the agency, Mrs. Olubusayo Ajeigbe, explained that the directive to seal the premises was from the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, NESREA, Dr. Ngeri Benebo, and was meant to ensure that the company complied with its environmental regulations.
But for the station sealed in Abuja, NCC enforcement team which was led by the head of compliance and monitoring Mr. Ephraim Nwokonneya, to unseal the base station saying the said telecoms company was in compliance with the NCC standard which is 5m apart to the nearest building.
The director of media at NCC, Mr.Tony Ojobo told journalists that there have been concerns from telecom subscribers on the possibility of hazards arising from the citing of a base station. He maintained that so far, there hasn’t been any report either from the World Health Organisation or from the International Telecommunications Union that indicates threat that the strength of transmission from a base station was enough to cause any health concern.
He also said NCC was the only organisation empowered to set standards and regulations for the telecom industry.
“NCC is the only organ of government that is charged today with the responsibility of regulating the standards in the telecommunication industry. The guidelines have been published and it is on our website,” he said. “What we have as our standard for citing base stations is 5m and that is based on international best practice that we have observed in other jurisdictions.”
He said the guideline is supported by all of the researches and also by the ITU as a standard that service providers can set its base station that would not be harmful to any human and so far their hasn’t been any report anywhere in the world that people have suffered as a result of maybe their exposure to the radiation that comes from a base station.
Mr. Ojobo also argued that shutting down base stations was not ideal since there were insufficient base stations to meet the capacity.
He said shutting down base station results in poor service, and that this may have contributed to the poor quality of services subscribers have been experiencing recently.
“Recently, there has been this agitation in the issue of quality of service, people have complained about drop calls, poor quality of service that is being rendered by the service providers. The challenge of quality of service can only be addressed by having sufficient base stations provided. You will observe that in a number of cities we have blind spot where for instance you can’t make calls on such locations.”
He further explained that the reason was because there was no base station that was supposed to hand over to from the previous one adding that the GSM technology operates through the cell system, where cells are dependent on other cells for life.
“We believe that for a base station to be shut down, there are implications because subscribers in those locations will not be able to make or receive calls”.