Lonestar Cell has rubbished and termed as untrue, claims by Cellcom that it (Lonestar Cell) has illegally blocked the latter’s customers from calling other GSM companies, while accusing it (Cellcom) of being indebted to it in the tune of over US$1 million.
It was reported in several local dailies Monday that Cellcom Liberia had accused Lonestar cell of illegally blocking its customers from calling other networks as a reduction in call rates from Cellcom to any GSM for nine cents per minute.
But Lonestar reacting to the published statement Monday said it did not in any way illegally blocked Cellcom costumers from calling other networks, but said Cellcom owe it (Lonestar cell) over 1million (in interconnectivity fees) that is using its network, adding that it is unacceptable.
The Liberia GSM giant said the amount represents arrears dating as far back as June 2009 unto March, 2011. The company said it has written Cellcom many letters, sent many invoices and met several times to try and resolve the matter, but Cellcom has deliberately refused to oblige.
The Cell-phone giant maintained that the matter was reported to the Liberia Telecommunications Authority for intervention and that the LTA tried to intervene, but Cellcom had since refused.
Speaking at a news conference Monday, Lone Star Chief Communication Consultant, Dr. Laurence Bropleh explained that Lonestar Cell, which was established and began operations here since 2001, has a large subscribers’ base as compared to other networks.
He said this means that many other GSM networks seeks permission from Lonestar cell in order to have their subscribers calls traffic through Lonestar network with the understanding that they would be honorable enough and make payments when invoices are provided with the actual number of calls that are trafficked through Lonestar system.
He noted that Lonestar cell has provided this service to all other GSM networks in Liberia in good faith for many years. “Unfortunately, many GSM companies have not paid what they owe Lonestar cell for many years now.
These companies have been written subsequently and meetings held to try and resolve this matter, unfortunately to no avail”, he said to journalists.
The LTA, the Regulator in Liberia, instructed the two parties, Lonestar and Cellcom to amicably resolve this matter, understanding that Cellcom indebtedness to Lonestar cell well over a million United States Dollars was unacceptable.
But the Lonestar cell said it tried on numerous occasions to sit with Cellcom and resolve the matter, but at each time an agreement was reached Lonestar said Cellcom agreed to pay, but refused at last until present.
Dr. Bropleh noted that, “We would like for the public and all our subscribers to understand that maintaining the quality of our network, as our quality is number one is paramount to satisfying our many subscribers.
Hence, after several attempts on our part to have Cellcom make good on its debt to Lonestar to no avail, even after the intervention of the Government of Liberia through the LTA, Lonestar cell had no option but to limit the interconnection of Cellcom’s traffic through Lonestar cell’s network in favor of Lonestar’s own customers.
“Any responsible company would do same as our first priority is to our customers and we must make sure that they are satisfied,” he stated.
When contacted Cellcom Public Relations Officer, T. Max Jlateh told this paper that Lone Star’s claim of his company being indebted to it at the tune of over 1 million in interconnectivity fee is unthinkable because some people are just good at calling figures.
He said there is a need for both parties to sit and reconcile the figures to establish who is actually indebted to the other. Mr. Jlateh said even if Cellcom is indebted to Lonestar, the latter does not have the right to disconnect Liberians.
Jlateh explained that when Cellcom noticed on Wednesday that its network had been interrupted, it called Lonestar and the company said it had a technical problem and was working on it.
He said his company was surprised that after few hours Lonestar opened the line with Cellcom’s calls being cut by 25% and later 50%. He said the matter was reported to the LTA and both parties were invited but LoneStar officials failed to show up.
T. Max believes that the new promotions introduced by his company must have led Lonestar to disconnect its lines.