21 March 2012

Liberia: Management - Lonestar Cell MTN Not Linked to Monopolistic Environment

The Management of the Lonestar Cell MTN has said the company is not linked to monopolistic environment.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the management of Lonestar Cell MTN bragged that Lonestar Cell MTN is a reputable and credible corporation that has contributed outstandingly to the growth and development of the telecommunications industry in Liberia. Against this backdrop, the management of the company described as unfair characterization that it is linked to monopolistic environment as it relates to telecom sector.

The management's statement was in reaction to a front page story of this paper.

On Monday, March 19, 2012, this paper published a front page story under the caption: "Lonestar Cell Linked to Monopolistic Environment." The paper, based on credible sources, reported that the cellular giant, Lonestar Communications, was allegedly threatening to take the industry backwards into a monopolistic environment. The paper further reported that the alleged action by Lonestar Cell MTN, if not halted, could disrupt national security, daily communication services and communication channels among several major local and international missions in Liberia, including the United States Embassy, USAID and various security networks and agencies in the country. Among other things, the paper in the report added that at the heart of the matter is the lingering interconnection issue between Lonestar Cell and its rival, Cellcom, the two leading networks in Liberia.

Accordingly, the management of Lonestar Cell MTN said in its statement that interconnection issues between Lonestar Cell MTN and Cellcom is a matter of a business arrangement where services rendered must be paid for.

However, in the statement, the management of the company demanded apology from the paper, claiming that the paper has no independent information to suggest that Lonestar Cell MTN is operating a monopoly in the telecom sector in Liberia.

Said the statement: "To our knowledge, Lonestar Cell MTN has been more of an enabler and firm supporter of the government's plans to develop the telecommunications industry in Liberia."

Paradoxically, the management in its statement, however said, the paper gathered authentically that the Liberia Telecommunications Authority has expressed grave frustration at the non-compliance posture of Cellcom regarding the matter of its indebtedness to Lonestar Cell MTN where an independent Auditor was selected by the LTA with the consent of both Lonestar Cell MTN and Cellcom.

"According to the LTA, Lonestar Cell MTN has fully cooperated with the process superintended by the LTA, but Cellcom has refused and in fact, Cellcom has also not agreed to the signing of an interconnection agreement when Lonestar Cell MTN has always been available," the statement by the company asserted.

"What this paper has reliably learnt is that Cellcom has disrespected the LTA by disregarding the LTA's numerous demands for it to sit at the table with Lonestar Cell MTN and sign the interconnection agreement. It has been legitimately established that Cellcom owes Lonestar Cell MTN well over One Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars dating back to over a year and a half," the statement by the company further asserted.

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