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MTN Blames Fibre Cuts For Network Downtime

Leading Nigerian telco company, MTN Nigeria has blamed fibre cuts for the recent difficulty in making calls and data usage that customers are currently experiencing across the country. The South African-owned company is the largest telecoms provider in Nigeria. The outage made it difficult for subscribers to make calls or access data-enabled services for about six hours. According to a tweet by the company, the prolonged downtime experienced by users on the network has been caused by multiple fibre cuts and its engineers are working assiduously to restore normal services.

There has been an outcry by numerous users on popular social media platforms about the poor network quality, and especially about what it means for them. This is because today is coincidentally the deadline given by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to all telecom operators in the country to block all lines that are not linked with the users’ National Identification Number (NIN). Dr Aminu Maida, Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, speaking at the ongoing 45th Kaduna International Trade Fair, today, stressed the imperative of linking NINs to SIMs for critical national security. He also reiterated the February 28th deadline for operators to bar subscribers failing to comply with the directive. Hence, many subscribers on the MTN network who have been unable to make or receive calls on their lines were not sure if their lines had been barred. According to a report by Nairametrics, MTN Nigeria also sent a direct message to subscribers that indicated that the service outage affected all the regions of the country. According to the communication, the problem started at about 1.39 PM today, Wednesday, February 28.

of MTN and network challenges in Nigeria

Fibre cuts are perennial causes of poor service quality in the Nigerian telecommunications space. In Nigeria, fibre cuts are largely owing to major construction activities and in other cases, deliberate acts of vandalism. Recall that MTN had a similar downtime in October 2021. According to the company, the incident was because of a disruption in its core network. In telecoms, the core network or backbone network is a high-capacity communication facility. It is the central element of a telco’s network that provides services to customers who are connected by the access network.

The affected core network is what allows subscribers to access voice and data services. The mobile core network also provides critical functions such as subscriber profile information, subscriber location and authentication of services.

Similarly, the second largest telco operator in the country, Airtel experienced a network downtime in December 2020. At that time, Airtel explained to users on its network that it experienced a network disruption which brought about the lengthy service downtime.

That was its second major network downtime in a month and two weeks. The company also experienced a service disruption in October of the same year, days after which it sent out an apology text to subscribers along with free airtime and data bonus. That event was owing to acts of vandalism that trailed the #EndSARS protest across Nigeria and the crisis and violence that followed it.

Par Nairametrics, according to the figures recently released by the NCC, the Nigerian telecom industry spent N14 billion to fix no fewer than 59,000 fibre cuts recorded between 2022 and 2023. The Commission also revealed that the industry experienced over 35,000 fibre cuts in 2022 and over 24,000 fibre cuts in 2023.


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