Following the Great Earthquake and subsequent aftershocks, telecom service providers might face problems in setting up BTS (Base Transceiver Station) towers, especially in the Kathmandu valley.
House owners in the valley, fearing possible damage to their homes, are willing to remove the towers installed on their roofs.
The service providers say, more than 80 percent of the BTS towers have been installed on the roofs of buildings in the valley. Unavailability of open spaces in the valley compelled them to place towers on rooftops.
For house owners, letting telecom companies install the towers on their rooftops meant extra income source. Depending on the location, the companies pay rental fees to the homeowners.
However, things might not remain the same. A significant number of house owners in the valley are making preparations to reduce load on their houses, fearing
a big aftershock might demolish their homes. Even the neighbours are pressuring them to either remove the towers or upgrade the safety measures.
“We have received some concerns from a few house owners in Kathmandu ,” said Nepal Telecom (NT) Managing Director Buddhi Prasad Acharya. “We will access such buildings using expert engineers.”
He said NT will also help strengthen the capacity of buildings where the towers have been placed. Around five houses in Kathmandu with NT BTS tower have reportedly collapsed.
Removing/relocating BTS tower from a designated place is a tough task for telecom operators as the locations are selected by analysing multiple factors that would help boost the network availability. NT currently has 430 BTS towers in the valley, while it is planning to add 77 more towers for improving its service quality.
The case is similar at another leading telecom service provider Ncell. Milan Sharma, communication expert at Ncell, said the company too has received such requests from customers, but the number is minimal.
“We are counselling such house owners with structural engineers and also accessing the buildings. BTS tower is a property for us. If it’s unsafe putting it on a particular house, we too won’t take risk,” Sharma said, adding apart from severe structural damages, the house owners need not worry since there is no specific report on a house that has been collapsed due to the tower.
According to an Ncell source, two buildings with Ncell tower has collapsed in Kathmandu .
An official with a leading telecom service provider told the Post if the there is nominal impact on a house, the company might take a stand on not relocating the tower on contractual obligations signed by the house owner and the service provider at the time of installation.
Services returning to normal
Telecom service providers on Saturday said their services were returning to normal after the earthquakes. NT Managing Director Buddhi Prasad Acharya said 95 percent of NT’s BTS (Base Transceiver Station) towers are functioning. He said services in all districts headquarters are intact. Ncell’s Communication Expert Milan Sharma told 90 percent of Ncell’s towers in 15 affected districts are up. Ncell said it is facing difficulties in powering up towers in places like Dolakha where 57 percent services is functioning, and Sindhupalchowk where 78 percent towers are functioning after Tuesday’s aftershock. NT too said it is facing problems in areas like Dolakha, Sindhupalchwok and Ramechhap following the aftershock. Both the leading service providers have said there has been a significant downfall in the congestion of voice calls and SMS service as the panic level among the people due to the earthquake has dropped. (PR)