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LTA Position on Interconnection Dispute between Lonestar & Cellcom

The Liberia Telecommunications Authority has warned Lonestar and Cellcom GSM companies to immediately desist from any anti-competitive tendencies that have the potential to generate crisis in the telecommunications sector and adversely affect millions of telephone subscribers in the country.

Speaking in a meeting with representatives of the two GSM companies on Monday in Monrovia, the LTA ordered Lonestar to immediately restore the E-1 facility that allows interconnection between the two operators to enable Cellcom subscribers to call Lonestar subscribers.   Also, Cellcom was instructed to file a bond in the amount of US $1.5 million to guarantee compliance with the outcome of the pending interconnection audit for monies allegedly owed Lonestar by Cellcom.

The LTA further threatened to impose a daily fine in the amount of US $25,000.00 against the two GSM companies for non-compliance following the stated deadline of May 25, 2011.

The LTA notes that at the onset of the dispute in the past several months between the two GSM operators, it held series of meetings and consultations with both operators, in an attempt to settle the matter out of court.   Consequently, the LTA, following further discussions with both Lonestar and Cellcom, decided to hire a technical consultant (Independent Software certification) to conduct an interconnection audit of the two companies with a view to establishing the facts of the claims and counterclaims of the two GSM companies.

Sections 3 f and j of the Telecom Act of 2007 mandate the LTA to protect the interests of subscribers and other customers of telecommunications services, and to prohibit certain types of conduct contrary to the orderly development and regulation of the telecommunications sector. The Act also empowers the LTA to make orders respecting any matter or thing to compel compliance.  

Given the foregoing and consistent with Functions and Duties of the LTA regarding Interconnection (as spelt out in PART VIII of the Telecom Act), the LTA is warning both Lonestar and Cellcom not to obstruct the LTA in carrying out its statutory responsibilities. The LTA will not hesitate to take prompt and appropriate punitive action against any GSM company that ignores its directives. .


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