string(3) "613" NTCS | Managing radio towers in the bush of Ghana
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Managing radio towers in the bush of Ghana

Philipp Andriessen

Philipp Andriessen

Philipp is gespecialiseerd in NGN/FttH initiatieven, due dilligence, strategie en bid-management. Hij is verantwoordelijk voor de werving en uitvoering van grootschalige telecomprojecten in de regio Afrika.

Helios Towers Africa is an investor that buys-up transmission masts of mobile operators. Those operators are keen to dispose of these masts in order to generate funds for the upgrading of their networks to 3G and 4G. After the sale, they lease back the masts from Helios. Helios makes its money through the management of the masts and the further lease mast capacity to other mobile operators (co-location).

Helios Towers Ghana is subsidiary of Helios Towers Africa that –apart from Ghana- owns similar companies in Tanzania, Congo and Nigeria. In Ghana, Helios Towers invested in 750 masts.

Helios Towers’ request

At the time of purchase, the 750 towers in Ghana were equipped with a poorly functioning monitoring system. To a large extent, the masts are located in rural areas, and monitoring of various parameters is done remotely. This includes checks on the amount of diesel available for the back-up generator, and the proper functioning of the air traffic warning lights in the top of the masts. About 100 different conditions and events are being monitored at the NOC in the capital Accra.

Helios Towers has requested NTCS to assist in the resolution of the problems with the monitoring system.

NTCS’ approach

It is of paramount importance to bring a broad technical experience and a good insight in telecom and ICT to successfully execute such a project. NTCS expert Hans Linkels has been site manager of Radio Omroep Nederland, and has extensive experience in similar projects.

Hans commenced the assignment (in close collaboration with his Helios counterpart) by setting up five teams; each assigned the responsibility for about 150 sites. Hans continued with the training of these teams in the functioning of the monitoring system., the problems that maybe encountered; and the related solutions and repairs. Thereafter, the teams have visited all sites in a six monthsˈ period, in order to identify the problems, and resolve them. Each team was fully responsible for the proper functioning and reliability of the monitoring data that is communicated by the site to the NOC in Accra.

Besides training and educating the teams, Hans has also accounted for the coordination between the teams, the NOC operators and the Helios management.

Result for Helios Towers

The result of the project includes a proper functioning monitoring system that registers all issues on each site. The reliability has increased, and the correct expert can be dispatched to a site in case of problems. The management costs for Helios have therefore decreased; and the mobile operators have proper functioning co-located towers for their networks.

“With Hans Linkels, NTCS has the competence available, able to participate in strategic decisions; but also capable to use hands-on experience to resolve practical problems expeditiously.”Geert van Eijk (CTO Helios)

“It is a nice experience to work in the field with local people. In a country like Ghana, I can still encounter surprising situations on mast sites.”Hans Linkels