An Accra High Court has dismissed an application by MTN seeking to quash the directive of the National Communication Authority to classify it as a significant market player in the telecommunications industry.

The court in a 33 page ruling dismissed the case while awarding a cost f ghc10,000 against MTN.

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By the decision of the court presided over by Justice Samuel Asiedu, a Court of Appeal judge sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, the NCA can now take measures to promote competition to protect the interest of other mobile service operators.

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Background

Telecommunication giant, MTN in June this year dragged the National Communication Authority to court over attempts by the regulator to break up the near-monopoly of the company.

In a statement, MTN said despite consultations with NCA, the company was left with no choice than to resort to the court to seek redress.

MTN described the government’s move as “unfair” and said the decision to go to court, was a “difficult” move.

The Ministry of Communications on June 9, 2020 announced that the telecommunication industry was facing “glaring disparities” and “imbalances” which it said was unhealthy for competition.

According to a statement signed by the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the new policies were meant to correct the imbalance in the telecommunication market.

The statement indicated that the NCA would, among others, apply the measures, including asymmetrical interconnect rate in favour of the disadvantaged operators, in the exercise of its regulatory mandate.

The NCA said it would also set floor pricing on all minutes, data, SMS and Mobile Money, and review and approve all pricing by the SMP as required by law.

It added that it would insist that SMP did not have differential prices for on-net and off-net transactions while ensuring that various operator vendors were not subjected to exclusionary pricing or behaviour.

These would be done besides the NCA ensuring that SMP’s access to information did not disadvantage any value-added service of non-SMP operators.

“It will require operators to present implementation plans on National Roaming Services within the next 30 days for execution on or before the next 90 days,” the minister said.

“These measures kick in immediately and the NCA is expected to work with all Network Operators who must cooperate to ensure it is done painlessly.”

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful pointed out that the measures taken in the past to open up the market and ensure fairer competition, though unpleasant to the dominant player then, had eventually ensued to the benefit of the consumer, which had also seen a vibrant telecom sector today.

“This will also have the same result over time. It is corrective and not punitive,” the statement concluded.

 

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