A consultant working for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has observed that the fixed line aspect in the telecommunications industry is very much alive despite the threat it is facing from mobile phones.
Mr Andrew Kwan who has worked in the telecoms industry for 30 years told ghanabusinessnews.com in a an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the ongoing ITU Conference in Accra that mobile phones actually depends on fixed or land lines to operate.
“Your mobile phone signal doesn’t go straight to another phone. It needs to pass through a base station… the base station receives your call and translates it down and sends it forward to the other receiver via land lines”, Mr. Kwan said.
“So the portion in the middle is still very important. The landline portion is still very alive” he emphasised.
“Unless you have a system that is acquired uniquely or satellites that can directly connect you to the receiver. It doesn’t need any landline but those are expensive”, he said.
Mr Kwan however admitted that the last mile of fixed lines is actually eroding and mobile phones seem to have taken over that segment but he was quick to add that,“but the fixed line is not simply just the last mile”.
“Without landlines you can’t go anywhere since international gateways are not done without landlines which are the backbone of this process,” he said.
Fixed or land lines have suffered a major set-back since the emergence of mobile phones.
In Ghana the fixed line market share has been falling drastically as compared to mobile telephony.
The National Communications Authority (NCA) data for December 2010 shows that the market share for fixed line networks in Ghana is only 1.6% for the entire population of about 23 million as against mobile telephony’s 98.4%.
There is a total of 277,897 fixed lines in the country as at December 2010, which is -13.5% of November’s total of 321,349.
Vodafone Ghana at a point was reported to have considered selling the fixed line part of its business. According to a report by South Africa based ITWeb news, an official of Vodafone Ghana said the company had considered selling the fixed network part of its business, but did not say to whom.
But the official cited in the story, Eric Valentine, who is Head of Networks at Vodafone Ghana has told ghanabusinessnews.com on the phone on April 7, 2011 that he never said that.
The report however indicated that he said that after the Next Generation Telecoms (NGT) Summit in Nairobi in January 2011. “The advent of mobile technology has meant that investment in fixed technology has been greatly reduced,” he was quoted as saying in the report.
There are only two providers of fixed lines in Ghana. They are Vodafone Ghana and Airtel.
By Ekow Quandzie