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Updated: December 1, 2012 10:38 IST

Thieves make away with BSNL base station

M. Dinesh Varma
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A base transceiver station is a structure located at the base of a cellphone tower. It houses equipment that enables wireless communication . T. Singaravelou
The Hindu
A base transceiver station is a structure located at the base of a cellphone tower. It houses equipment that enables wireless communication . T. Singaravelou

In the past, telecom company’s copper cables and battery sets were stolen in city

Thieves continue to strike at will in the city and increasingly, telecom giant BSNL finds itself at the receiving end.

After copper cables and battery sets used to power BSNL’s cellphone towers, miscreants have now targeted a base transceiver station (BTS) in Thiruverkadu.

BTS is typically a concrete structure located at the base of a cellphone tower. It houses equipment that enables wireless communication between a network and user equipment such as cellphones, wifi devices and computers with wireless internet connectivity, among others.

The theft came to light when BSNL line staff was deployed to the site to follow up on a control room alert about a network breakdown in the Thiruverkadu area. To the utter surprise of the technicians, the whole BTS ensemble was missing.

Sources said, the robbery looked like the handiwork of a group because it is virtually impossible to single-handedly break down the concrete shelter that houses the BTS equipment.

While installing a new BTS can cost around Rs. 20 lakh, scrap value of the hardware in the grey market is not more than a few thousands.

“We are worried about the theft as it makes a good proportion of our unmanned BTS units vulnerable. We are also concerned about the communication equipment falling in the wrong hands,” a BSNL official said.

The targeting of the BTS unit comes even as BSNL tries to find a way to counter a spate of thefts of its battery sets that power GSM network towers.

Since January 2010, at least 43 instances of battery thefts have been reported across the city and suburbs.

The hunting grounds for the thieves included suburban locations like Guduvanchery, Chunnambedu, Arasur, Ayapakkam, Gerugambakkam, Pandur and Sirumailur.

In the city, thefts were reported from Ashok Pillar, Velachery and the biotech building on the IIT-M campus.

Most commonly, thieves have targeted equipment in unmanned locations with standalone BTS installations. However, there have been a few cases where miscreants have decamped with battery sets after posing as BSNL technical staff.

BSNL’s top brass plans to seek the cooperation of the police to prevent such thefts in future. It is however doubtful if police surveillance will be possible at all remote BTS units.

It is also unviable for BSNL to provide round-the-clock private security at these locations, an official said.

BSNL has about 2,000 BTS installations in the city and suburbs, of which 1,200 are located on the rooftops of houses.

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