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|D-Day for Lone Star Cell: LTA Set To Decide Fate of Telecommunications Giant||| Print ||
|Written by FPA Staff Report|
|Tuesday, 13 November 2012 00:33|
Monrovia - It has come to this. A defining and possibly crucial decision which could alter the outlook of the telecommunications giant, Lonestar cell when the Liberian Telecommunications Authority announces its decision over whether or not it would implement its decision to either warn Lonestar Cell or suspend the two operating licenses of LonestarCell for its alleged unilateral and illegal disconnection of interconnection links with Comium, and for non-compliance with the subsequent order of the LTA that LonestarCell restores interconnection links with Comium.
In a statement on October 12, the LTA last month, the regulatory body would make its “final decision” in November. “The Public will be appropriately informed in due course of the outcome of the Board of Commissioners’ deliberation on this matter,” the LTA said in a statement last month. Multiple sources have confirmed to FrontPageAfrica that the decision could come any day now possibly today or sometime during the week.
The LTA said last month that it was setting the record straight on a number of issues regarding LTA’s regulatory functions and activities respecting ongoing sector developments in hopes of laying to rest negative perceptions about the regulatory body.
While many remain unsure how the LTA will rule on the matter, the regulatory body says it is satisfied that it has been compliant with its regulatory and Statutory obligations in respect of how it has gone about holding its stakeholder consultations on the Lonestar suspension issue; in particular the last public consultation at the Monrovia City Hall, where a well attended forum comprising civil society organizations, including the Press Union of Liberia, the Liberia Marketing Association, student and consumer groups, and representatives of rural inhabitants, freely expressed their views in an open forum organized to discuss the Lonestar suspension issue.
The LTA dismissed suggestions that it has already decided the matter. “The LTA wishes to make it abundantly clear, that it has taken time to bring these outstanding issues to finality because the nature of a telecom regulator, its modus operandi, and the legal framework within which it operates, are such that the regulator has to be systematic, transparent, patient and clearly deliberative before embarking on any regulatory decision and its subsequent implementation.”
The LTA said the decision to hold a public hearing was aimed at taking into consideration the views/inputs of those to be affected in one way or the other by such regulatory actions and measures, including those of complainants and offending parties, but especially the views of consumers and/or subscribers.
“Such cautionary and sometimes time-consuming deliberations on the part of the regulator become imperative particularly when the same Telecommunications Act that gives the LTA its statutory powers and responsibilities, also provides those affected by its decisions, recourse to seek redress against regulatory sanctions and actions.”
The LTA says it will not be dragged into a situation where it is forced to bow to pressure. “What the LTA will not do is to be stampeded into taking actions based not on professional and regulatory sector considerations and sober deliberation, but on the whims and caprices of individuals and self-proclaimed advocates of the masses driven more by self-interest than by the public good.
"Indeed, the LTA remains focused and will not be distracted by influence peddlers. Indeed, its five commissioners are united in respect of the regulator’s vision to ensure the creation of a vibrant telecommunications and information technologies environment for the benefit of the Liberian people.”
Critics of the LTA say the regulators have not been transparent in its dealings with the public, pointing to lack of publicity surrounding the town-hall-style meeting and numerous allegations that the body has been less the stern in implementing its own decisions reached by commissioners. But the LTA insists that it has.
As the hour of the decision looms, industry observers see the task before the regulators as key. But whichever way the regulators rule, some say the telecommunications industry could be bracing for the unexpected as the LTA decides the fate of what is inarguably, the biggest cellular giant in post-war Liberia.