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MTN threatens legal action against Liberia telecoms regulator

By , IT in government editor
Liberia , 23 Nov 2012

MTN threatens legal action against Liberia telecoms regulator

Liberia mobile operator, Lonestar Cell MTN, has threatened legal action against the country’s telecoms regulator for a second time this year, as the watchdog plans to suspend its licence.

Lonestar Cell MTN is majority owned by South African telecoms group, MTN. And earlier this week, it was reported that the Liberian Telecommunications Authority (LTA) plans to suspend Lonestar operations from 3-5 December.

The skirmish between the telco and regulator stretches back to May this year, when the LTA threatened to suspend the operating licence for South Africa's MTN for two weeks after the company cut off its competitor, Comium, accusing it of unpaid interconnection fees.

Interconnection fees are the amounts an operator pays another for routing traffic through its network.

Subsequently, MTN took the case in June to a Liberian court, which in turn stopped LTA from suspending the company's licence.

The watchdog, though, is attempting for a second time to suspend Lonestar’s licence. But MTN has said it could take legal action against the regulator, again.

“The Telecommunications Act of 2007, specifically Part XV, Section 75, Subsections 1 & 2 confirms the right of a licensee, Lonestar Cell MTN, to resort to arbitration in respect of any order or exercise of authority by the LTA that gives rise to a dispute that is not resolved,” said Dr. Laurence Konmla Bropleh, corporate communications executive, Lonestar Cell MTN.

He added, “All proceedings or actions in connection with the suspension of Lonestar Cell MTN’s operating license are required to be and shall stay pending a final determination of the arbitration proceedings.”

“We inform our over 1 million subscribers and the entire nation that they would have no need for the acquisition of another SIM card from any other operator,” Bropleh concluded.

Liberia’s mobile penetration rate stands at 69% of the country’s 4.1 million population, according to BuddeComm research. This means there could be 2.8 million subscribers in the West African nation.

BuddeComm researchers further say that four GSM mobile operators are competing for customers in the nation – LoneStar, Comium, Cellcom and LiberCell.

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