Frequency fracas as SuperCell questions DRC spectrum redistribution

23 Jul 2012

SuperCell, a mobile operator active in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) eastern cities of Goma, Bukavu and Uvira, has reportedly taken legal action against watchdog Autorite de Regulation de la Poste et des Telecommunications (ARPTC) and rival operator Congo Chine Telecom (CCT), local website www.7sur7.cd reports. SuperCell, which launched in July 2002, has accused the regulator of distributing frequencies that belong to it, to CCT’s parent company, France Telecom-Orange (FT-Orange) in October 2011; that month saw the French giant complete the 100% acquisition of the cellco for USD196, whilst simultaneously paying USD71 million for improved licence terms and additional spectrum.

After its requests for clarification from the ARPTC and CCT fell on deaf ears, SuperCell has petitioned the Tribunal of Commerce (TriCom) for compensation to cover the misappropriation of three 2MHz spectrum blocks in the 894MHz-955MHz frequency band, which it said it was awarded on 16 December 2004. As such, SuperCell has demanded a total of USD16.59 million in compensation, broken down as follows: USD8.64 million for the illegal exploitation of its frequency, USD6.95 million in overpaid taxes and USD1.00 million in damages.

Congo, Dem. Rep., Autorite de Regulation des Postes et Telecom (ARPTC), Orange DRC, SuperCell (DRC)