Cedarcom confirms position against Lebanon’s 3G plans

12 Apr 2011

Cedarcom, a provider of fixed and mobile wireless broadband internet services in Lebanon, has issued a statement setting out its reasons for launching legal action against the 3G development plans of the country’s two state-owned cellular network operators Alfa and MTC Touch, which it claims will create a ‘new monopoly in wireless broadband services’ whilst transgressing Telecom Law 431. Article 19.1 of the Law states that 3G services must be licensed through a decree issued by the Council of Ministers, whilst Article 15 states that radio frequencies for any service, including 3G, are licensed by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA); at present Alfa (managed by Orascom Telecom) and MTC (managed by Zain) do not possess 3G licences from the Council of Ministers, and do not have licensed frequencies for 3G from the TRA. Throughout 2009 and 2010, the Lebanese Telecom Association – including ISPs Cyberia, IDM, Terranet, Wise, Broadband Plus, and data/internet operators Cable One, Cedarcom (Mobi), GDS and Pesco – sent letters to the Minister of Telecommunications and the TRA, warning of creating a new monopoly in wireless broadband services by introducing 3G services in the absence of 3G licensing, un-equal taxation, and fair competition between government-owned and private operators. Cedarcom’s statement points out that on 31 March 2011 the TRA issued a public circular reminding all operators of the need to adhere to Law 431 and warning against using any frequencies without licensing from the regulator, whilst meanwhile both Alfa and MTC have taken active steps to build 3G network infrastructure in partnership with equipment providers. The two new 3G networks are estimated to cost around USD80 million and ‘will be paid for in total by the Lebanese citizens’ tax money, i.e. by public funds,’ the statement continued. Cedarcom summed up its position by urging the TRA to take a ‘decisive transparent regulatory role’ by enforcing the implementation of Law 431 in respect of formal 3G licensing.