Liberia’s regulator to launch probes into MTN Liberia and Cellcom

15 Oct 2012

The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) will decide on whether or not to suspend MTN Liberia, trading as Lonestar Cell’s, GSM operating licences by November 2012, according to LTA information officer Mrs Chris Harris Williams. The agency spokeswoman added that the authority will not be ‘rushed into making regulatory decisions’, on the matter, which has rumbled on since June this year when the watchdog was reportedly considering suspending the cellco’s two operating licences in relation to its ‘unilateral disconnection’ of rival operator Comium Liberia. In a press release at the time, the LTA said that the action related to MTN Liberia’s non-compliance with the subsequent instruction of the LTA to reconnect Comium within a specific timeframe. However, the LTA muddied the water over the ruling, saying that ‘the modalities of implementing the suspension decision are being discussed between Lonestar Cell [the brand name of MTN Liberia] and the LTA as well as with other GSM networks and service providers, including the point in time when the suspension will begin and how it will be implemented in a way that will have less far-reaching impact on consumers.’ The LTA has since been holding a series of public consultations as to whether or not to enforce action against the cellco.

In a separate regulatory issue, the LTA has confirmed it is launching a probe into fellow mobile operator Cellcom Liberia’s controversial ‘4G’ service. Here, Mrs Williams said: ‘With regard to the controversies surrounding the 4G internet service being claimed by Cellcom and other frequency and licensing claims by other GSM companies, the LTA has launched and will continue to pursue appropriate expert investigations.’

As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in August this year Cellcom, part of the Cellcom Telecommunications group, was facing an investigation from the national regulator over the network operator’s claim that it is able to offer 4G-based services. The LTA released a statement noting that Cellcom’s operating licences only cover 2G (GSM) and 3G (W-CDMA/HSPA) cellular services. ‘With regard to Cellcom’s claim of having 4G capability, the LTA has embarked on an investigation exercise to determine the veracity of this claim as is being advertised by Cellcom,’ the watchdog said at the time.

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