204 GMS towers in major breakdown

SOME of the 204 GMS mobile communication tower sites in Zambia are down and it is anticipated that normal service will only be restored to all the sites within 30 days, Parliament heard before it adjourned last week.

Minister of Transport and Communications Kapembwa Simbao said he received a report through Zambia Information, Communication and Technology Authority (ZICTA) from Spacecom that an unprecedented major fault occurred on the orbital satellite, AMOS-5.

Spacecom is an international satellite communications provider which is also called “AMOS-5”.

Mr Simbao said the problem had affected the entire Central and Southern regions of Africa that are served by AMOS-5.

Mr Simbao said in the immediate term and to ensure that communication was restored as soon as possible, Government through ZICTA had engaged Spacecom with a view to migrate the traffic for the 204 GSM sites to an alternative satellite which operates in the same frequency band as AMOS-5.

“Prior to the failure of AMOS-5 orbital satellite, ZICTA through Huawei Technologies Ltd (who is the project contractor) commenced to resolve problems affecting 36 sites which were not in service out of 204. As at November 30, 2015 Huawei had been to 12 sites to resolve the problems,” he said.

He said the proposal would require reconfiguration of the equipment and realignment of the antenna of the hub station in Lusaka and later of each one of the 204 sites across the country.

“Government in 2012 embarked on a programme to construct GSM mobile communication towers in areas that have remained underserved or unserved since the inception of GSM service in Zambia using funds from the Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) administration by the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority,” Mr Simbao said.

He said the 204 sites were serviced by satellite communications for transmission backhaul provided by an international satellite communications provider, Spacecom.

“Spacecom under this particular satellite which is called ‘AMOS-5’ is  serving Central and Southern African countries which include Congo DR,  Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbambwe, Bostwana and South Africa,” Mr Simbao said.