Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cell Towers Built But Not Used in Afghanistan

The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has reported on a $6.5M project that provided no benefit (unless you count the contractor that provided the service). The State Department contracted for six cell phone towers to be built in southern Afghanistan. There were some systematic problems with the design to include the cost of running by generator (fuel) and the fact that they were not initially designed to hook into the existing telecom network in Afghanistan. The purpose of the cell phone towers was to expand and enhance telecommunication services to the civilian Afghan population in underserved but strategic areas. Another cell tower project - Expeditionary Cellular Communications System (ECCS) - was done under "Operation Palisades" by the Department of Defense; it was a $68M project awarded to ManTech. Reportedly the cell towers built for the State Department are to be auctioned off to the Afghan telecom community (it is unknown what happened to the ECCS towers). SIGAR has requested additional information from the State Department in a September 9, 2014 letter. Read more in "$6.5M telecom towers unused in Afghanistan; watchdog wants answers", The Washington Times, September 17, 2014. See also a news article on this topic in Stars and Stripes.

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