Power outages impact seamless mobile telephony
Have you experienced any drop in call quality or an alert message saying you have received a call from a particular number?
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has hit wireless telephone connectivity severely with consistent and constant call drops threatening businesses and day-to-day lives.
One of the main reasons that call drops occur is when there are constant power cuts. Mobile phone towers have back-up battery power to support usage for a few hours, but the lack of general power can create havoc for switching equipment and other needed electrical connections. “The constant power cuts we have been experiencing and are yet to experience with more intensity will affect our seamless operations. We can’t keep on maintaining the tower operations by feeding fuel that we buy on our own at expensive rates because it is not cost-effective,” a CEO of a mobile telephone company said.
With the present exchange devaluation from Rs.200 to Rs.360 to the USD, importing equipment has become much more expensive and hence much more difficult to recover the investment as the mobile companies are still selling at low rupee call rates.
Added to this is that funding needed to pay for required network capacity now costs the industry 30 per cent in interest charges making it even more difficult to make a business case.
A senior industry official pointed out that the changing landscape in the country is also impacting the reach of calls. “Especially in the city, many high rises are coming up, but mobile operators’ networks are very old, and the technology is also not very new. To keep up with the new lay of the land, the networks also must be reset. However, the mobile operators cannot spend so much money in relocating and redesigning their networks with the current economic situation in the country,” the CEO added.
The radio network congestion on wireless networks is also causing call droppings, a senior manager of another mobile company said noting, as there is not enough radio capacity to manage all the calls.Some calls don’t go through.
“There are limits to how many callers one cell tower can handle. If an incident causes many people to reach for their phones, an overloaded tower may reject new calls and drop existing calls.”
As such it is presently very difficult financially for operators to expand network capacity to address increasing drop calls.
The solution to this, according to all mobile operators, is to expand radio capacity which is now very expensive and needs significant forex to import required equipment.
In addition, the recent introduction of unlimited any network calling packages at a fixed monthly fee may cause even higher calls on the network making the situation worse, industry officials say.
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