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Friday, July 19, 2024

LTA IMPOSES HEAVY FINES ON GSM PROVIDERS FOR REGULATORY VIOLATIONS

Date:

The Government of Liberia, through its telecommunications regulatory body, the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), has taken decisive action against two leading GSM service providers in the country. In a news conference held on Thursday, June 27, 2024, acting Chairperson Abdullai Kamara announced substantial fines of three hundred thousand United States Dollars each to Lone Star MTN and Orange Liberia. These fines were imposed due to a series of serious regulatory violations committed by both companies.

Mr. Kamara stated that the immediate enforcement action was necessary to compel compliance from the GSM service providers. The violations primarily involved breaches related to the Floor Price regulation and the failure to submit critical data with revenue implications. The Floor Price regulation, initially implemented in 2019 to stabilize the telecom market amid price wars, sets a minimum consumer package price for data and voice services. According to Mr. Kamara, both companies engaged in predatory pricing practices, undercutting market prices to attract consumers but leading to network congestion, dropped calls, and declining service quality.

Highlighting the impact of these violations, Mr. Kamara noted that the telecom landscape suffered, with providers unable to expand networks and facing operational challenges such as tower decommissioning and staff layoffs. The reintroduction of pre-Floor Price offerings over the past year, he emphasized, has exacerbated market instability and diminished government revenue capacities.

Furthermore, the LTA’s enforcement actions are also aimed at upholding quality of service regulations, which both providers allegedly failed to comply with despite a comprehensive nationwide sector survey conducted by the LTA. Orange Liberia, in particular, was cited for cross-border connectivity violations, having utilized a cross-border connection license with Ivory Coast during internet disruptions in March without proper written authorization.

Additionally, Mr. Kamara revealed that Orange Liberia had three unreported network links, including two international and one local, which are crucial for effective sector monitoring. These unauthorized connections undermine regulatory oversight and compromise the LTA’s ability to manage the telecommunications sector effectively.

In conclusion, Mr. Kamara expressed the LTA’s commitment to fostering fair competition and maintaining an open market environment while ensuring compliance with regulatory standards. He encouraged all stakeholders in the telecommunications industry to adhere to their obligations, highlighting positive compliance developments among radio stations as a benchmark for others to follow.

The LTA’s recent decisions, particularly the imposition of significant fines on Lone Star MTN and Orange Liberia, signal a firm stance against non-compliance and aim to restore order and stability in Liberia’s telecommunications sector.

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