The Liberia Telecommunications Authority has announced that it has issued license to Libtelco, the government’s telecommunications company, to henceforth operate like any other Mobile Network Operator in the country.
This means, Libtelco which has been focused recently on the distribution of fiber optic internet service to homes, schools and offices, can now join the competition with the two service providers – Orange Liberia and Lonestar Cell MTN by providing mobile voice service and mobile data service.
According to the LTA, Liberians would now have a wider choice in determining the network of their convenience.
The granting of Libtelco the license to operate mobile network comes at a time when the two GSM companies and the Liberia Telecommunications Authority has been in a disarray over the implementation of the LTA’s surcharges which led to sharp increment of voice and data charges by both GSM Companies. Ultimatum, warnings and meetings by the LTA to the Mobile Network Operators to revert to status quo have yielded no result over the past one week.
LTA described the arbitrary increment of prices as price fixing, collusion, and antitrust conspiracy while Orange Liberia says the demand of the LTA for them to pay surcharges of over US$16 million for the period of March to September 2020 would lead them into bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Standing Committee on Post and Telecommunications, Rep. Isaac B. Roland (District #3, Maryland County) has called on LoneStar Cell-MTN and Orange Liberia to adhere by the mandate of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) by dropping all extra charges placed on voice and data bundles in recent days.
“As head of oversight of the telecom sector and people’s deputy, we are seriously taken aback on this unprecedented increase in the cost of services (voice or data bundles),’ he slammed.
He said, with the current economic situation, the new hike in voice data charges will deprive the average Liberians, especially those in the rural parts of the country and the student populace access to communication and using the internet to enhance their online studies.
“We want to call on both MNOs (Lonestar Cell MTN and Orange Liberia) to return to status quo ante. We support LTA’s press statement of October 8, 2020, in which, the sector regulator frowned on the unilateral decision by MNOs to implement increment without the consent of the regulatory body and regarded the recent hike as illegal price-fixing, collusion, and antitrust conspiracy,” he said.