MTN and Cellcom fight leaving users as losers

27 May 2011

A row has erupted between Liberia’s leading GSM operators MTN Liberia (formerly Lonestar Communications) and Cellcom Liberia over the alleged non-payment of debts totalling more than USD1 million, prompting the former to limit its interconnection with Cellcom’s network. Cellcom has accused its rival of ‘illegally blocking’ its network, but MTN has refuted the claim, saying it has only limited its interconnection due to the unpaid bill. However, the stand-off has left many Cellcom users unable to communicate with any family of friends who use the MTN network. Cellcom is claiming that its rival’s move is in direct contravention of the Telecommunications Act of 2007 which states that ‘dominant service providers are prohibited from undertaking activities or actions that abuse their dominant positions.’ It has called on the regulator, the Liberian Telecommunications Authority, to intervene. The fight between the two players apparently broke out after Cellcom which had 449,000 mobile subscribers at the start of this year, launched a new promotion offering calls to any network, including MTN, at LRD0.09 (USD0.00125) per minute. MTN Liberia had 746,000 GSM users at the same date.

Liberia, Lonestar Cell-MTN