By Africa Moyo
NetOne has lost up to $150 000 from January this year up to now, due to vandalism of towers and theft of batteries at base stations across the country.
The company is now incurring more costs as it has heightened security to ensure the replaced batteries are not stolen again.
NetOne executive director marketing communications, Dr Eldrett Shereni, told The Herald and Finance yesterday that vandalism of network infrastructure was a big drag to their operations.
She said it was not only NetOne that was reeling from the theft of batteries and vandalism of other infrastructure such as towers, but all telecom operators.
“Mobile network operators are spending millions of dollars on replacing stolen batteries and on security following a spate of vandalism at their base stations,” she said.
“Tower vandalism is a significant issue affecting not only operators but consumers whose service may be cut off completely in some areas.
“As NetOne we have lost about $150 000 due vandalism.”
Dr Shereni said theft incidents result in a given area going for many days without network, depriving the companies of revenue as customers cannot make or receive calls and even surf the internet.
“When batteries are stolen and there is no back up, the vandalism often means that there is an increase in repair time.
“But MNOs (mobile network operators) are not folding their hands and watching the destruction of their assets.
“NetOne for instance has teamed up with police and local communities to bring criminals to book,” said Dr Shereni.
She said criminals have been apprehended in Murehwa, Bindura, Marondera and Kwekwe.
Previously, convicted vandals would be sentenced to community service, but vandalism of telecommunication equipment now attracts a minimum mandatory sentence of seven years.
NetOne says it has since firmed security at its base stations to ensure customers do not continue to suffer due to vandalism, robberies and assault of security personnel manning the sites. The Herald