The advent of the 21st century technological advancement resulted to a leap from the analogue to digital means of communication which is evolving through 2G, 3G, 4G, cellular network and will continue to evolve to 5G, 6G even beyond 7G, until lapse in time in communication is fully redeemed through the use of data technology.
It is no doubt that modern communication technology has reduced space, time and distance in communication, thus grossly impacting the educational, health, entertainment, religious, security and all sectors of the world’s economy. It is therefore of crucial importance to state that these celebrated digitalised platforms are made possible by an infrastructure called a Base Transceiver Station (Base Station) which is a piece of equipment that facilitates wireless communication between user equipment (UE) and a network.
The telecommunication Base Transceiver Station is a vital infrastructure to the development of a nation. It is the bedrock upon which the technological stability and advancement of any nation lies. The Base Station handles the transmission and reception of signals; sending and receiving signals to or from amongst network entities. These Base Stations even though are erected by service providers to enable network and ensure continuous availability of reception to users, should be considered as a national heritage which must be preserved. Once the Base Station serving a particular community or neighbourhood is non-functional, there is a breach in the communication needs of such community, telephone calls will be hindered in spite of emergencies, ATMs shut down, insecurity is enhanced, computerized operations in offices are frustrated and so on.
Since every facet of human life is now dependent on access to information technology, Base Station which serves as the channel through which information is accessed must be collectively preserved. The understanding of the importance of Base Station makes us know that preservation of it cannot be left exclusively to the law enforcement agencies or service providers but should be a collective responsibility. Citizens both in the urban and rural area, businesses and government at every level must preserve Base Stations within the state as part of the essential state’s infrastructure which must not be tampered with.
In MTN Nig. Comms Ltd v. Delta State Government, three justices of the court of appeal agreed that Telecommunications Masts are like Electricity Poles and Electricity Transformers.
A Base transceiver station is not only the lifeline of all form of communication, they are critical to the development of a nation which means the same way trespassers are not allowed to tamper or damage electricity poles or transformer, hindrances by community or anyone to the operations of Base Stations must be refuted. The shutdown of a single base station is tantamount to gradual shutting down of the development of a nation as whole, international relations, foreign investment as well as other key economic activities. In fact, it’s hard to imagine any government, individual or business that has not benefited from the digital revolution. Even sectors as hands-on as agriculture use computers for production records, financial planning, research on technical issues and procurement.
Imagine all reception from Base Stations are shut down, no access to internet, television, or any form of communication, the world will definitely go into paranoia and chaos or seem as if it has come to an end. Communication is a vital element in a nation’s security. One of the first strategies to carry out a coup is to shut down all means of communication. For instance, during the Sudan crisis, the military government ordered a total shutdown of the internet. The internet was cut off after security forces violently dispersed protesters camping in central Khartoum. Also, on 7 January, 2019 at 04:30 GMT, soldiers took control of the national TV (Radiotélévision Gabonaise), announcing their coup attempt. A few hours later, around 07 :00 UTC, the number of Internet connection requests from Gabon dropped sharply, indicating the beginning of an Internet shut down. The Base Stations were shut down to achieve the completion of the coup d’etat. Thus, when Base Stations are down, the world will be thrown into utter darkness and sent back into the stone age as communication is vital to the smooth running of a society.
To lend credence to the sustenance of governance through telecoms infrastructure, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) has published that telecommunication facilities are critical national infrastructure (CNI) which are central to national security and deserving of protection by the government. In line with the provisions of the Cybercrime Act of 2015, Telecommunications Infrastructures are designated CNI and therefore, any acts of vandalism or deliberate obstruction of service delivery is deemed unlawful and punishable by law.
It is against this backdrop that the preservation or the continued life of Base Stations is the responsibility of all and sundry i.e. governments, individuals and businesses, as a complete shutdown of access to information will adversely affect all areas of life including national economy and security.
To reiterate, the lifeline of access to information is absolutely dependent on a functional and well-maintained Base Station. As a matter of fact, it would be needless to say that the importance of Base Station, especially, in the 21st century, cannot be overemphasized. Its importance and impact ranges from providing technological foundation for societal communications, to enable participation and development, providing vital infrastructure for national security and a host of others.
Conclusively, Base Stations are critical national infrastructure and as such a national heritage which ought to be jealously protected; governments, host communities and private individuals are enjoined to make it a collective responsibility to ensure the protection and preservation of telecommunication infrastructures as it is very critical to the smooth running of all facets of human life.