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Namibia's MTC reacts to regulator's finding on "exploitative" clause

Namibia's MTC reacts to regulator's finding on "exploitative" clause

Namibian mobile network operator Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) says it expects to receive a response from the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) by the end of this week clarifying whether or not the regulator's finding that a clause in MTC Standard Service Agreements is "exploitative" applies to the entire telecommunications sector in the country.

This is after CRAN recently ordered MTC to remove the clause in its subscription agreements which authorises it to automatically renew customer contracts for the same subscription fee with reduced benefits.

Tim Ekandjo, Chief Human Capital & Corporate Affairs Officer at MTC said the telco took cognisance of an ITWeb Africa report on the finding by CRAN in favour of an MTC customer and has written to the Regulator for clarity on its remit.

"MTC takes exception to the allegations that they exploit customers and has written to CRAN to ask whether the ruling applies to the industry as a whole or whether it applies only to MTC. MTC believes that the principle underlying the CRAN ruling is applicable to the entire industry.

As part of the finding in question, CRAN ordered MTC to notify its subscribers in writing that their contract is about to lapse 30 days before this occurs and to also indicate to the affected consumer that he or she is entitled to extend the contract further with delivery of a new handset.

The Regulator effectively barred MTC from continuing post-paid contracts automatically at the same fee without delivering a new handset, as was the case due to the clause that was reported to it.

Subscribers must now be moved to a standard package with a reduced subscription fee if a handset is not included.

"It is important to point out that MTC assures all Namibians that it does not exploit consumers," stressed Ekandjo in response to the regulator's finding and the published article that followed.

Festus Mbandeka, Chief Executive Officer of CRAN said the Regulator made a decision in favour of the customer in order to enforce its mandate which binds it to ensure all consumers are "protected from exploitation and abuse in respect of prices, quality, variety of services and user equipment supplied."

Mbandeka also revealed that the CRAN engaged with MTC before making its resolution on the matter.

Katrina Sikeni, Head of Communications and external relations at CRAN also revealed at the announcement of the finding that the order against MTC requires the telco to submit its new standard packages to CRAN before 8 September 2017 for approval in terms of section 53 of Namibia's Communications Act.

"During the first twelve months after the implementation of this decision, MTC must (also) provide the authority with quarterly reports indicating the customers whose contracts have lapsed and how such consumer contracts were managed in line with this decision."

Sikeni also indicated that MTC customers can contact CRAN directly if the operator fails to address their cases relating to the outlawed clause within a period of 14 days after the have formally reported it to the operator.

CRAN's decision does not apply to contracts that have already lapsed.

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