Lebanese operator continues with network upgrades despite lawsuit

26 April 2011

Network upgrades anger private-sector players

Swedish telecommunications vendor Ericsson continues to deploy equipment for third-generation (3G) technology for Alfa despite a lawsuit against the mobile operator.

“We were given a contract and will work to that contract,” says an Ericsson spokesperson.

On 11 April, Lebanese internet service provider (ISP) Cedarcom filed a lawsuit against the Telecommunications Ministry and the two-state-owned mobile operators Alfa and MTC Touch for deploying 3G technology without obtaining the required licence.

In February 2010, Alfa and MTC Touch, respectively managed by Egypt’s Orascom and Kuwait’s Zain, announced network upgrades from second-generation (2G) services to third-generation (3G). China’s Huawei will be upgrading MTC Touch’s networks.

“Frequency allocation was a right transferred from the Council of Ministers to the TRA in 2007 when it was established, as yet we have received no request for the 3G frequencies,” says Mahassen Ajam, commissioner and head of information and consumer affairs units at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

According to Cedarcom’s chief executive officer, Imad Tarabay, the ministry is acting illegally and is in breach of the Telecom Law 431. “We are in favour of advanced technologies and we support anything that has the capability of bringing high-speed connectivity, but we want the Telecom Law 431 to be respected, and fair competition enforced on all operators, regardless if they are owned by the government or private sector,” says Tarabay.

The TRA refuses to comment on the matter. “As it is a legal issue, we cannot comment on Cedarcom’s position, but we respect the right of every stakeholder, whether in public or private stakeholder, to defend their interests,” says Ajam.

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