Minister threatens cellcos with contract termination over service problems

9 May 2014

Lebanese telecommunications minister Boutros Harb said yesterday (8 May 2014) that the country’s two state-owned mobile operators, Touch – managed by Kuwait’s Zain Group – and Alfa – managed by Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding (OTMT) – have until 12 May to improve the quality of their networks or face the termination of their contracts, local newspaper The Daily Star reports. Harb stated that both operators must repair network malfunctions immediately, following persistent problems of call dropping and call interruptions. Both contracts, currently running under a three-month extension, are due for renewal at the end of June. Harb – who took his ministerial position in February – added that since that month the quality of both networks’ services had deteriorated because neither operator had satisfactorily addressed a recent increase in technical malfunctions. ‘All subscribers are entitled to uninterrupted calls without being forced to redial the same number three to four times to finish a conversation, particularly [considering] that the citizen is paying a high bill to both companies that is calculating the duration of the call on a per minute rather than per second basis,’ the minister said, adding: ‘When I took over the ministry, the situation was better and suddenly it started deteriorating. Both operators have failed to assume their responsibilities such as informing me and the office supervisory board of network malfunctions when they occur.’