In a bid to strengthen the network quality that has remain-ed poor after the April 25 earthquake, Nepal Telecom (NT) has started redesigning its network in the valley.
The state-owned telecom service provider has started installing new towers, dismantling and replacing towers affected by the quake and designing a better network system to ensure better service quality.
“Our first priority is dismantling the BTS (base transceiver station) towers affected by the earthquake and replacing it with new ones,” NT Managing Director Buddhi Prasad Acharya. “And we have already started the work.”
The earthquake has affected 26 NT BTS towers in the Kathmandu valley. Of the total, NT has already started work at 16 sites. “We will complete the installations within a week,” Acharya said.
Removing/relocting BTS towers from a designated place is a tough task for telecom operators as the locations are selected by analysing multiple factors. NT has said the damage to the BTS towers is one of the biggest reasons for poorer service quality.
The telecom giant said the new towers being installed on rooftops are lighter and will not have a serious impact to the houses in the event of a similar disaster in future. While existing towers weigh more than 500kg, the new towers weigh around 250kg, Acharya said. “Since the new towers are not heavy, they won’t cause much harm,” Acharya said, adding the height of the new towers will be much smaller.
Following the quake, telecom service providers are facing problems in setting up BTS towers in the valley as house owners, fearing a possible damage to their homes, are willing to remove the towers installed on their roof-tops.
More than 80 percent of the BTS towers have been installed on roofs of buildings in the valley, according to the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA). Unavailabi- lity of open spaces compelled the operators to place the towers on rooftops. The new light-weight towers have been introduced with a motive to win the confidence of house owners and make the infrastructure stronger.
NT currently has 430 BTS towers in the valley, while it plans to add an additional 77.
Although the new lighter BTS towers are better in terms of security, their network coverage is weaker compared to existing towers.
As the new towers have less number of equipment too and the height is shorter, the network coverage area too will be smaller. “Hence, we are designing the network in such a way the service remains intact. We might have to locate towers relatively closer to one another,” Acharya said.NT, while reinstalling the towers, is also prioritising strengthening the data service.
Acharya said the company is giving a significant focus on data in line with the company’s goal to make its users’ 3G experience better and more reliable.
Besides, NT is installing 77 new BTS towers across the valley. Though the company was expected to complete this task a couple of months ago, the earthquake delayed the plan. Acharya said the main focus of the company at current is on resurrecting dysfunctional towers, and the task of installing the 77 new towers will take a pace later.