MTN Liberia dodges bullet over licence suspension, paper says

7 Jun 2012

MTN Liberia, which is 60% owned by the South African MTN Group and trades locally as Lonestar Cell, has been granted a ‘stay order’ by a Liberian court, the Business Day newspaper reports. The country’s telecoms watchdog, the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), had announced it was suspending MTN Liberia’s two operating licences after the cellco disconnected rival player Comium Liberia over unpaid interconnection fees dating back over a year. However, MTN says the court has upheld its call for a stay order against the LTA’s move which, if put in place, would have resulted in severe disruption for over a million Lonestar Cell users. MTN Liberia says it will continue to work with the LTA to resolve the matter.

CommsUpdate reported yesterday that the LTA had suspended MTN Liberia’s licence for two weeks in relation to its ‘unilateral disconnection’ of rival operator Comium. In a press release, the LTA said that the action had been taken for MTN Liberia’s non-compliance with the subsequent instruction of the LTA to reconnect Comium within a specific timeframe. On 23 May the LTA ordered MTN Liberia to reconnect Comium ‘with immediate effect’. The watchdog’s ruling, which was issued at 5pm (local time), was delivered by its acting director of public and consumer affairs, E Blamo Robinson. The decision followed a complaint from Comium that MTN Liberia had illegally disconnected the interconnection on the trunk network between the two firms on 18 May 2012. In issuing the order, the LTA warned MTN Liberia that its failure to comply with the mandate would result in the commencement of proceedings to suspend its operating licence and ‘other appropriate actions’.

Liberia, Lonestar Cell-MTN