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OPEN LETTER TO MRS. A. WEEKS, CHAIRWOMAN LIBERIA TELECOMMUNICTAIONS AUTHORITY (LTA)

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March 28, 2016

Dear Madam Weeks:

We write, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of individuals, subscribers to cellular telephone & Internet Services provided by the Lonestar, Cellcom and Novafone, and in support of Subscriber/Complainant, Mr. Jura A. M. Sanoe, in his demand for your timely action in fulfillment of your responsibility to the Nation and people, as the regulatory Agency of the Nation.

It is important to note that many of the subscribers arevoiceless, unrepresented,poor, hungry, sick and, more often than not,“beg and borrow” to prepay for these services. For example, on the basis of experience, there is no reliable, efficient and effective functioning Internet service provider in the Republic of Liberia. Primarily, the three cellular, telephone service firms in the country – Lone Star, Cellcom and Novafone – are owned by foreign-based organizations or foreigners in Liberia, only Lone Star with a Liberian face, and the West African Telecom, also foreign-owned and exclusive Internet Service Provider, now closed for reported tax evasion.

These three companies, in addition to the cell phone business, “provide internet service”. They market a “modem” jack each, inserted in the Laptop or desktop. The average price of the modem is US $40, a one-time investment, but with a “weekly/monthly charge, re-charge” cost of US $5, $10, $12 prepaid. The rate is not really a weekly/monthly rate, but an undisclosed “as use” rate similar and equal to the cell-phone-use rate.But these “modems” are unreliable, very, very slow, time consuming and, more often than not, do not work at all. Some of the jacks do not work at all in the counties such as Grand Gedeh, etc.Cellcom and Novafone are now marketing modems for US $99/year and $55/three months respectively.

Our concerns are not with these costs and charges prepaid, although hidden with dubious and, apparently, dishonesty. Presently, we bought and are using three modems, interchangeably – Lone Star, Cellcom and Novafone, after a terrible, costly experience with West African Telecom.

The problem here has been, and is, that the service is woefully inefficient and unreliable – wait, wait, wait and wait for hours on the PC to get on line, this, in the Monrovia area, let alone in distant counties!! Moreover, government regulation is something else. There is nowhere to turn for redress. Are these guys, passing themselves off as internet service providers, apparently, CROOKS in collusion with dishonest regulators, at the expense of subscribers?

Therefore, one is forced to conclude, from demonstrable experience of inefficient/ineffective internet service and, by implication, that efficient, effective Internet Service Delivery in our country, Liberia, is in the hands of CROOKS, in collusion with dishonesty (Corruption, Inc.) and profoundly DISGRACEFUL!!

No Need for Lecture, but . . .

Throughout history, all human activities – social, economic, political – depended upon, had been and are achieved, successfully, through efficient, effective reliable communication. Now, with 21st century, phenomenalpopulation growth and urbanization, fast travel and people movements, local, national and international interactions; and changed/changing socio-cultural and economic lifestyles, there had been and is a much more efficient/effective mode of communication than before, made possible and available by scientific, technological innovations – the improvement of Landline, Telephone Communication. There is an absolute need for Liberia to restore an efficient/effective communication – the Landline Telephone Service. But, there is no need to tell you that with which you are familiar.

Landline Telephone Service withSubscriber Directory

Before the civil conflict, Liberia enjoyed a comfortable, developing landline telephone service, with limited coverage of the rural counties. Landline telephone service provides safety, security and socio-economic well-being for all citizens, particularly, the average, ordinary citizens.For examples, landline telephone service will provide a listing of all offices of government and others in a directory:

Offices of the President 

Offices of the Vice President
Offices of the Judiciary
Offices of Legislature
Offices of Ministries & Agencies of government
Offices of all state-owned Enterprises
Offices of all Superintendents & other officials of the counties
The Police, NSA, Bureau of Immigration
Business Houses & Organizations
Doctors, Hospitals, Clinics & Pharmacies
Diplomatic, Foreign Missions
Individual subscribers, A-Z,

All telephone Service isa necessary, regulated public Service, but Landline, Telephone Service, with a directory for the information of the publicis, indeed, a much more required, regulated public service for the following reasons:

• It is relatively low-cost, within the reach of the average, low-income, Liberian wage-earner.

• Rather than a telephone (with a separate number) for each member of a large family, one may place a telephone in the room of each family member on a single telephone line (number) into the family home.
• For important, critical government services, the addresses and telephone numbers of all government ministries and agencies – local and national – with information on international, direct dialing are listed in the white pages of a telephone directory published by the service provider.

• Similarly, the addresses and telephone numbers of all private businesses are, also, listed in the yellow pages of the telephone directory published by the service provider.

• Individual landline subscribers who stand in need of urgent, medical service can find the addresses and telephone numbers of the clinics, hospitals, etc. in the telephone directory. The caller can be identified through his/her landline call.

It is very important to note that information – electronic or otherwise, such as the mail – facilitates or moves business; business facilitates or moves the economy; and the economy sustains the society, the people. In this connection, it is very important, also, to remind ourselves that we have been around for more than a century and a half, and that it is about time that we establish street addresses and mail delivery system with post offices, nationwide. This is doable.

Meanwhile, cellular or mobile telephone service is an asset that has become indispensable to the modern business person “on the go”. The combination of these indispensable service is rational resolution of the problem by planning and economic development responsibility.

Kind Regards,

Bai M. Gbala, Sr
Bai M. Gbala, Sr

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