The New Dawn (Monrovia)

19 November 2012

Liberia: GOL Suspends Lonestar Licenses

A V-SAT installation

The Liberian government has suspended the two operating licenses of Lonestar Cell MTN for three days effectively from 3rd to 5th December, 2012, exempting areas where Lonestar Cell is a lone service provider.

But Lonestar Cell MTN Chief Corporate Communication Officer Dr. Laurence Konmla Bropleh said Lonestarcell MTN is considering options available to it as accorded by the Telecommunications Act of 2007, Republic of Liberia as well as by its Standardized License.

Bropleh said: "To this end, Lonestarcell MTN is considering taking appropriate and necessary steps to ensure that all operations of Lonestarcell MTN and its network remain intact to support our more than ONE - MILLION customers."

Announcing the decision reached by the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) Board of Commissioners on Friday, November 16, 2012, LTA Boss Angelique Weeks said the suspension of the company's licenses serves as punitive measure resulting from its (Lonestar Cell MTN's) "unilateral implementation of unauthorized change in the status of its interconnection with Comium [GSM] Liberia from 18 to 21 May, 2012."

But to minimize the impact of the decision on customers, Weeks told journalists at the LTA office on 9th Street, Sinkor over the weekend that "in those areas in which only Lonestar Cell/MTN provides services, said areas will be exempted from the suspension order such that those customers will be allowed to receive and make calls."

In the affected areas, she said the suspension means that Lonestar Cell/MTN customers will be able to receive calls but will not make calls for the duration of suspension period."

Besides the penalty, LTA said Lonestar Cell MTN is to pay 25 percent of revenues generated from "such operations to the Government of Liberia (GOL)."

On May 19 this year, the LTA instructed LoneStar Cell MTN to immediately reconnect Comium based on complaints that the former had disconnected the interconnection trunk with the latter from Friday, May 18, 2012 for prolonged indebtedness.

But in defiance, the LTA said Lonestar Cell MTN failed to comply with the government's directive to fully restore the interconnection with Comium GSM by 5Pm on Monday, May 21, 2012 as it existed prior to the disconnection, among others.

"The suspension is slated to commence at 12:01 AM on 3 December 2012 and continue for three days until 12 Midnight on 5 December 2012," said Weeks.

The telecommunicating regulatory body said its decision to reduce the penalty against Lonestar Cell MTN is in line with Section 20 (5) of the Telecommunications Act of 2007, which states that where a license is suspended, revoked or not renewed, the LTA shall take into account continuity of service to customers and include in its order such terms and conditions as it deems appropriate.

Meanwhile, the LTA Board of Commissioners said it informed the management of Lonestar Cell MTN of its decision to suspend its two operating licenses last Thursday, November 15, 2012, saying the suspension order is expected to be issued shortly.

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