CRAN digs in on telecoms infrastructure sharing dispute

The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) says its recent decision to order Mobile Telecommunications Ltd (MTC) to share its infrastructure with MTN Namibia was influenced by an independent assessment conducted by the Authority, which concluded that MTC had excess capacity on its network and thus was in a position to share its infrastructure.

“In the case of MTC, an independent assessment was conducted by the Authority (with participation by MTC), which revealed that the supply side capacity on the MTC networks exceeds the levels of traffic demand (both in the current year and in the near future), and hence the directive to MTC to share infrastructure. The said assessment was based on network data provided by MTC for the purpose of the investigation,” CRAN Chief Executive Officer, Emilia Nghikembua said on Wednesday.

She said MTC could only be exempted from infrastructure sharing if it had obtained approval from CRAN.

“There is no obligation for infrastructure sharing if the dominant operator will utilise the infrastructure for its own purpose and has received such exemption from the Authority. MTC has not received an exemption from the Authority in this regard."

She added that “The contention that Licensees that do not co-invest in infrastructure may not share, is not legally nor economically correct. The concept denotes that dominant operators have gained an economic advantage over other operators, and must allow other operators to share in that advantage, for the benefit of consumers. The Lessee of infrastructure must pay a sharing fee to the Lessor, therefore this arrangement is not for free.”

“The Communications Act makes provision for License categories that allow operators to only provide an electronic communication service without constructing their own network, with the understanding that they will share capacity with other operators.”

She said if MTC felt aggrieved by its recent pronouncement, the telco was free to approach CRAN for re-consideration.

“Any aggrieved operator has recourse in terms of the Communications Act to raise its grievances with the Authority for reconsideration,” Nghikembua said.

The pronouncement by CRAN comes as MTC has vowed to challenge the decision by the regulator announcing that it had engaged an independent consultant to study its network and provide an opinion on capacity.

“We know from experience based on our network intelligence and feedback from our customers that they struggle with congestion and burdening our network with another operator will severely compromise our customer service promise,” MTC Chief Human Capital & Corporate Affairs Officer, Tim Ekandjo, said on Friday.

MTC has further accused MTN of being among other telcos that declined its previous offer to co-build telecoms infrastructure in the country.

“The question whether an operator has enough capacity to host a national roaming is common. To enable this infrastructure sharing, MTC would have to invest more in its network. You can host anything, including a national roaming agreement. The question is how much more must you invest and is there a reasonable business case to support these incremental investments?”.

MTC in 2017 launched its 081Every1 network project, a billion-dollar project aimed at expanding its network footprint and infrastructure and achieve close to 100% population network coverage through the roll-out of 524 sites.

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Last modified on Friday, 29 October 2021 16:38

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