The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), has suspended the operating license it issued to Lonestar Cell/MTN, saying it needed to send a strong message that the regulator will not take lightly any company that does not play by the rules.
The decision to suspend the operating licenses of Lonestar Cell/MTN was made by the Board of Commissioners of the LTA.
According to the LTA, the licenses will be suspended for three days and will serve as punitive measure and deterrent to other telecoms companies operating in Liberia.
Speaking on Friday, Angeline Weeks, the Board Chairperson of LTA, said the board’s decision was in response to Lonestar Cell/MTN’s unilateral implementation of an unauthorized change in the status of its interconnection with Comium, another GSM Company, from May 18-21, 2012, despite a directive from LTA to have the interconnection between the two companies restored.
The three day suspension will take effect at 12:01 am on December 3 until midnight on December 5, 2012.
Officials of Lonestar Cell have described the suspension as capable of undermining communications in Liberia. They said the suspension announced by LTA presents many challenges that are more than technical issues.
They said while LTA would want to appear tough to the public and compel telecoms companies operating in Liberia to take its fangs seriously, they appealed to the regulator to reconsider the sanctions which they said would have adverse impact on the company’s business, consumer confidence and the country’s economy.
“This will have such effect on the ultimate bottom line that it might affect the number of jobs in our employ, let alone the taxes due to the government of Liberia. This loss could be in millions,” Lonestar Cell/MTN said.
It added the suspension is expected to trigger lawsuits against the company by international carriers such as BICS, an international company with other obligations and back-to-back contracts with other operators around the world.
Lonestar Cell said putting all these together would greatly undermine the integrity of the nation’s telecommunications sector and might open up much larger issues than could be imagined.