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Lonestar Cell Pleads for Lesser Punishment

Liberia’s GSM Company Lonestar Cell MTN, currently faced with a three-day suspension from the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) has appealed to the communication regulatory body to find an alternative punitive measure.

The LTA announced plan last week to suspend the company’s licenses for unilaterally disconnecting Comium GSM for prolonged indebtedness, while the matter was already taken before the regulatory body.

Lonestar Cell MTN said it would be unfair to its over one million subscribers to be out of communication for three days for actions they are not responsible for. The company noted that if for any reason the LTA should go ahead with the punishment, innocent subscribers shouldn’t bear the burn.

Addressing a news conference at the Lonestar Cell MTN Head office in Monrovia, Chief of Cooperate Communication, Dr. Laurence Bropleh, said if the LTA suspends the licenses of the company, three will be no more Lonestar.

Dr. Bropleh noted that the suspension of Lonestar Cell MTN’s licenses for three days will have negative impact on the lives of its subscribers, many of whom are members of the business community. He added that it will also affect security here, but did not state what effect it could have on national security.

Dr. Bropleh, former Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism clarified that COMMUIM GSM in whose favor the LTA has threatened to punish the company, is no longer indebted to Lonestar Cell MTN. He said COMMUIM has paid in full since the action was taken against it, noting that COMMUIM and Lonestar Cell are OK, and moving strong.

“CMMUIM has paid our debts and the problem that was between us is over,” Bropleh added.

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He described relations between Lonestar Cell MTN and COMMUIM as husband and wife relationship, and maintained that Lonestar Cell has not violated any of the laws of the LTA.

According to him, interconnectivity among GSM companies here is a business, and the LTA as a regulator has nothing to do with it.

“Many people do not understand about the interconnection of network; it is about you using my network and I using your network and at the end of the day, we all submit invoices to each other and we paid each other for the services used,” said the corporate communication chief.

Dr. Bropleh said Liberians should not politicize what is obtaining between the LTA and Lonestar Cell MTN.

There are rumors that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has influenced the LTA’s decision  to suspend Lonestar Cell MTN licenses because the company has some opposition members on its board, who refused to support the President’s second term bid.

No name has been disclosed, but Messers Benoni Urey and Emmanuel Shaw both from the Taylor era, are top Lonestar Cell MTN executives. Dr. Bropleh said he could put his life on the line that President Sirleaf has no link to what is ongoing at the LTA.

“if anyone will say that the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that I know, is behind this for political reasons than let them stand publicly on the street and say it; and if President Johnson-Sirleaf will look in my face and say I am the one behind this, I Dr. Laurence K. Bropleh will look in the face of the president and say to her, you are not the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that I knew in the past, so let no man say the President is behind this or the action is taken in the President’s interest,” he noted.

The Liberia Telecommunication Authority over the weekend announced the suspension of two operational licenses of LoneStar Cell MTN.

The Chairperson of the LTA Board of Commissioners Madam Angelique Weeks, said the decision is a punitive measure from the Board of Commissioners, resulting from LoneStar Cell MTN’s “unilateral” implementation of an “unauthorized” change in its status of its interconnection with Comium- Liberia from May 18, 2012 to May 21, 2012.

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