Double-Dutch? NBC emerges from the woodwork to protest against 3G licences

27 Sep 2012

According to RadioOkapi.net, Netherland British Compagny (NBC), a DRC-based business which manufactures and distributes telecoms products, has accused telecoms watchdog Autorite de Regulation de la Poste et des Telecommunications (ARPTC) of ‘unlawfully’ awarding 3G concessions to four mobile operators, Airtel DRC, Oasis Telecom (Tigo), Vodacom Congo and Africell, in July this year. NBC’s complaint seems to relate to the fact that it was itself issued a ten-year mobile concession in 2004, and feels that it should have been considered for 3G frequencies. NBC’s lawyer, Serge Lukanga, has asked the commercial court to suspend the use of all 3G spectrum until its case has been heard.

TeleGeography notes that the DRC’s mobile market has witnessed numerous companies fall foul of the government’s notoriously awkward licencing regime over the years; as many as 16 companies have been granted 2G mobile licences in recent times, only to come unstuck due to myriad legal and financial issues. Indeed, of the aforementioned 3G licensees, Africell only announced the commercial launch of its GSM network in late-June 2012, almost two years after receiving rights and spectrum to offer wireless services in the DRC. It is not believed that NBC has actually taken steps to utilise its unconfirmed mobile concession, which would be set to expire in 2014. In the past the ARPTC has gone on record as describing its frequency resources as ‘completely exhausted’.