telecom operators to be sensitive to public concerns
Accra, May 02, Ghanadot/GNA – Mr.
Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of
Communications, has urged telecom operators to be considerate of
peoples’ reservations about telecom towers mounted close to
their dwelling place and institute measures to allay the
anxieties of the public.
He noted that there had been considerable amount of public
concern about telecom masts and their health and safety
implications, saying that he personally received a complaint
regarding some MTN telecom tower mounted in a home at Tamale,
and the residents feared that “the tower is causing malaria.”
The minister said whereas it was erroneous for anyone to suggest
that telecom towers caused malaria, it was important for the
telecom operators to show sensitivity to peoples’ anxieties in
order to make the public welcome the towers in their vicinities.
Mr. Iddrisu made the call at the commercial launch of MTN 3.5G
technology; MTN, the market leader, was the second operator to
have gone commercial with 3.5G, after Zain Communications.
The commercial launch followed three months of piloting, during
which period MTN added on more 3G base stations, otherwise known
as Universal Mobile Telecommunication Systems (UMTS) stations
unto its existing 2G infrastructure, to ensure quality service
from the onset.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one of the leading
permit agencies for the erection of telecom towers, recently
told the Ghana News Agency that, like the minister, it received
a myriad of complaints from the public about the dangers telecom
masts posed to life and property.
The EPA was therefore hesitant in issuing permits to the
operators to mount masts, even though the EPA itself admitted
that some of the complaints were based on wrong perception about
the health implication of radiations from telecom towers.
It, however, noted that some of the concerns were genuine, and
called on the operators to act more responsibly and also to
undertake vigorous and comprehensive public education to allay
anxieties based on wrong perception about health implications of
Mr. Iddrisu also urged MTN to focus on improving the quality of
their service, saying that it was one other area that generated
a considerable amount of complaints from the public.
“I will also take the opportunity of the launch of this
innovative technology to urge MTN in particular to improve the
quality of their service because that is one other area people
complain,” he said.
Mr. Iddrisu assured MTN and other operators of government’s
support to avert all suspicions and misconceptions about their
operations in the country.
He said the ministry was in the process of constituting a
tripartite committee comprising of personnel from the Ministries
of Communications, of Local Government and Rural Development,
and of Roads and Transport to find ways of dealing with
challenges facing operators regarding the installation of
He noted that Ghanaians had been used to voice and text
messaging services on their phones, and congratulated MTN for
introducing 3.5G technology to give the consumer a choice of
high speed data service, broadband internet, video calls and
much more, all on their handset.
The minister said 3.5G would help improve business efficiency
and reduce cost, saying that government would take advantage of
it to improve e-governance and communication between government
and the governed.
He also commended MTN for their immense social responsibility
activities, particularly the refurbishing of the second floor of
the maternity ward of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, and appealed
to them to consider a similar gesture toward the Neurology
Department of the same hospital.
Mr. Brett Goschen, Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana said the
MTN 3.5G, which was launched under the caption “Go Beyond”, was
active in Accra, Tema and Kumasi, adding that it would be
extended to other cities in the coming months.
He said the package included high speed data service, broadband
internet connectivity on phone and on laptops through a portable
modem, MTN loaded - a portal where subscribers could download
music, news, sports and other entertainment content.
Mr. Goschen said even though MTN followed another operator in
going commercial with 3.5G, MTN had seven times the number of
3.5G base stations than the other operator had, and had a wider
“We also have the widest telecom coverage in the country, more
base stations than all our competitors put together and more
than twice what the second biggest operator has,” he said.
He assured subscribers that MTN would go to every extent to
improve the quality of its network, and continue to offer the
cheapest tariffs on international calls, saying the calls to the
UK, USA and Canada on MTN attracted the same charge as local
Mr. Christian De Faria, The Vice President of MTN West and
Central Africa (WECA) Region, said, as market leader, with
almost seven million subscribers, representing 55 per cent
market share, it was natural the MTN faced the network
challenges it faced currently.
“Growth comes with challenges but MTN has proved over and again
that with time we have what it takes to go beyond the challenge
and deliver quality service to our values subscribers,” he said.
Mr. George Andah, Chief Marketing Officer, MTN Ghana said it was
only persons with 3.5G compatible handsets who could enjoy the
service, adding that the service entitled subscriber to free
call waiting and call conferencing but no access to MTN Zone.
He announced that to connect to the service, one needed to call
1333 on his/her 3.5G handset and follow the voice prompts,
adding that alternatively, MTN would mount a stand at the Accra
Mal, beginning from May Day and assist subscribers to get
connected to the service.
Mr. Enebezer Albertyn, Chief Technical Officer of MTN Ghana, who
is credited with the MTN 3.5G service, said the launch did not
mean that MTN 2G service was any less in terms of quality,
adding that the only difference was the added internet based
service, video services and a higher speed data service.