LTA, the telecommunications regulator in Liberia recently announced the suspension of Lonestar Communication operation license for violating LTA’s regulations.
According to the two representatives, LTA has the legal ground to regulate the sector, and as such, the GSM provider “must conform to all the regulations of the LTA and be made to pay all fines and penalties to ensure full compliance of the laws of Liberia.”
Even though both lawmakers are not members of the House’s Telecommunications committee, they have vowed to protect LTA in keeping with the laws governing the sector.
The latest development stemmed from a row between Lonestar and Comium over an inter-connectivity agreement in which Comium was indebted to Lonestar. Lonestar threatened to take a drastic action against Comium but LTA stepped in, sparking another row. While Comium has not paid its liability to Lonestar, LTA threatened to suspend Lonestar’s operating license.
Addressing a news conference during the week, the two lawmakers cited several reasons for LTA’s action against Lonestar Communication MTN ranging from the Lonestar and Cellcom inter-connection dispute, Lonestar MTN November 7, 2011 network outage, Lonestar MTN and Comium interconnection dispute and Lonestar MTN importation of fiber cable from a neighboring country.
The lawmakers intoned that all of these actions prompted the intervention of LTA aimed at managing and regulating the sector, but Lonestar did not adhere to instruction from LTA thereby violating the laws of the country.
Representatives Smith and Kparkar alleged that the GSM Company breached the international gateway license terms on the issue of broad band being routed from the company in Ivory Coast.
“Currently, Lonestar is acquiring 3G through an illegal international gateway, thereby constituting a serious breach of its licensing terms as opposed to 2G data application.
“In view of those clear infractions and flagrant disregard of the Telecommunication Act of 2007, we are of the highly considered opinion that LTA which came into force as a result of a legislative enactment must be respected to the letter and her powers to regulate service provider,” Representative Smith said.
The two men urged members of the three branches of Government and general public to respect government institutions and support their statutory mandate for the good of the country.
“Any attempt to disregard or undermine the very institution created is tantamount to shooting yourself in the leg or stabbing in the back,” Representative Kparkar asserted.
Accordingly, Section 11 (M) of the LTA Act gives the regulator the power to institute and maintain appropriate measures for the purpose of preventing service providers from engaging in or continuing anticompetitive practices. In the same Act, Section 11 (E), it provides that LTA can amend, modify, suspend or revoke licenses.
However, the matter is now before House Speaker Alex Tyler for further investigation.
Interestingly, Lonestar MTN in 2011 was named the “highest taxpayer” in Liberia. But economic analysts say as the 2012/2013 budget is under discussion, revoking the operating license of the company could cripple the estimated revenue generation of national Government.