Telecom giant could lose billions over switching off Africell calls

Telecom giant could lose billions over switching off Africell calls
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MTN Uganda, MTN Group’s subsidiary here has reportedly been warned over unfair practices against other players, with a massive fine likely.

An insider at the industry regulator, Uganda Communications Commission said the government body is pressing ahead with an unprecedented plan to fine MTN Uganda after last Tuesday’s unfortunate incident where MTN Uganda switched off Africell subscribers from calling MTN numbers.

Africell entered the Uganda telecommunications market in November 2014 after finalizing the acquisition of Orange Telecom’s operations at $12m.

READ MORE: Intrigue cited as MTN temporarily switches off Africell calls

“Yes we could fine MTN,” revealed a senior official at UCC who preferred anonymity due to the sensitive of the issue adding,  “MTN’s actions were not only unlawful but also wrong on over very many grounds, actually they were claiming in media that they consulted us (UCC) but that’s not true.”

Over similar incidences, MTN Nigeria was fined 5Billion dollars for contravention of compliance rules, while on Tuesday 16th May 2017, MTN Rwanda was fined 7 Billion Rwanda Francs over breach of license obligations.

MTN Uganda, which is Uganda’s largest telecommunication corporation with annual revenues in excess of Shs1.2 trillion told local website ChimpReports that they switched off Africell services based on a directive from the Uganda Communications Commission over non-compliance.

But Africell’s representatives claim MTN was in breach of their obligations to provide services under the interconnection agreement.

The Lebanese-owned telecom’s Legal team has since clarified that their network is compliant with regulations set by the Uganda Communications Commission adding that Africell has always come out on top as the best rated network in terms of Quality of Service over the years UCC has carried out such tests.

“In contravention of rules of fair play, Africell was the only telecom operator that was illegally targeted and blocked by MTN on that day,” Africell Uganda said in a complaint seen by TheUgandan on Friday.

But Mr. Mohammad Ghaddar, the Africell Uganda chief operating officer, said Africell Uganda maintains that MTN’s actions were illegal, made in bad faith and amounted to breach of the interconnection agreement, hence denying millions of Africell subscribers the right to make calls.

“It is, therefore, no surprise that MTN was ordered by the Uganda Communications Commission to immediately restore interconnection services to Africell Uganda on 9th May 2017,” said Mr. Mohammad Ghaddar in reaction to the wrangle.

We reached out to MTN Uganda for a comment … so far no word back.

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