Just days after the Government of Liberia granted operational license to Liberia Telecommunication Corporation or LIBTELCO to provide GSM services besides two other companies here, Grand Kru County District # 2 Representative J. Fonati Koffa, has called on the LIBTELCO Management to move as fast as possible, now that it has obtained operational license.
Addressing reporters on Thursday, 15 October 2020 in Monrovia, Rep. Koffa said Liberia, a small economy with high GSM penetration, it is in the interest of Liberians to have their own, rather than have private companies control the communication network, something, he described as dangerous to national security.
Rep. Koffa, also a lawyer, said recent surcharge by Orange Liberia and Lonestar Cell MTN and subsequent turnaround is intended to save face.
He demands both companies to restitute moneys deducted from subscribers, as a result of the surcharge.
Both companies have offered free minutes for on-net voice and data services to the public for the recent surcharge that saw millions of subscribers virtually incapacitated, financially.
The Board Commissioners of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority on Wednesday, October 14, granted operational license to LIBTELCO to provide mobile services to the public.
The Mobile Network Operators (MNO) License signed by the LTA brings to three, the number of GSM service providers in the country.
This means LIBTELCO will now compete with Lonestar Cell MTN and Orange Liberia for a share in the local mobile market, increasing consumers’ choices in determining network of their convenient.
The MNO had been earlier signed on Friday, September 25, 2020 at the head offices of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority, which regulates the industry.
GSM companies here and the LTA had been in serious disagreement over surcharge levied by the latter, with the regulatory authority demanding a return to status quo, an instruction the companies had earlier reneged on.
Earlier, the companies argued the surcharge was approved by the government based on a circular issued by the LTA. The regulator has neither denied nor confirmed the circular but insists the companies return to status quo.
“Orange Liberia informs all its customers that it will place an “additional cost” (surcharge) in the amount of$0.008 for each minute of on-net voice and US$0.00065 of data in compliance with the LTA Order: 0016-02-25 issued by the Liberia Telecommunications Authority on February 25, 2019. As from Monday 5th October 2020 offers shall be amended gradually going forward”, the Management of Orange Liberia Incorporated texted its subscribers across the country recently.
Immediately the surcharge took effect, citizens began to feel the economic pinch in recharging their mobiles, making communication further expensive and unbearable, particularly for the average citizen.
However, following reported intervention by President George Manneh Weah, the two companies abandoned the surcharge and promised to reimburse subscribers who suffered cuts in minutes for on-net voice (from 45ms to 15ms) for a dollar card, and to restore the regular services, amid a new competitor in the industry.
By Bridgett Milton–Editing by Jonathan Browne