The Electronic Communications Tribunal (ECT) yesterday began hearing details of a petition put before it by the Mobile Network Operators ( MNOs) in the country over the GH34 million fine imposed on them by the National Communications Authority (NCA).
The fine, which the MNOs had earlier described as too heavy, was slapped on them for what the regulator claimed to be the result of various infractions in their (MNOs) license conditions.
Although the hearings were held behind closed doors, sources said the meeting on Monday basically allowed each player to make its preliminary statements on the fine.
They are also expected to defend their case while the NCA will also be given the opportunity to state its case.
The hearings are expected to continue next week. It is not clear when the hearings will be over but a source said, it will be dependent on how proceedings go.
Late last year, the NCA sanctioned all four MNOs for poor services to consumers.
The four network operators sanctioned for their non-compliance with various Quality of Service (QoS) requirements were AirtelTigo, Glo, MTN and Vodafone.
A statement issued by the NCA said the four had been fined a total of GH¢34,065,000.
AirtelTigo is to pay GH¢11,635,000, Glo, GH¢4,460,000, MTN GH¢9,080,000 and Vodafone GH¢8,890,000.
The NCA regularly undertakes QoS monitoring to determine MNOs compliance with their license conditions and to ensure that consumers receive the quality service they pay for.
According to the NCA, in the first quarter of 2018, the authority undertook QoS monitoring of all MNOs in the Greater Accra, Eastern, Western and Northern regions and two districts in the Ashanti Region in the phase one of a nationwide monitoring exercise.
The monitoring enabled the authority to determine the MNOs which were unable to meet their License Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in some district capitals with regards to QoS; Obligations for Coverage, Data, Voice and Speech Quality.
It said as had been the practice, the NCA subsequently held reconciliation meetings with all four mobile network operators and they were given three months ending, August 21, 2018, to cure the infractions detected.
The NCA said at the end of the deadline, it embarked on a follow up monitoring to ascertain if the QoS infractions recorded had been resolved. However, the follow up monitoring revealed that though the key performance indicators (KPIs) in some district capitals had improved, the MNOs were not able to meet the KPI thresholds as per their licences. The NCA as a result sanctioned the MNOs.
Consistently, the MNOs, on the other hand, had complained about some of the disruptions caused through fibre cuts by some road contractors all over the country and cable theft among other things and noted that “we do not intend under any circumstances to disrupt services to our customers”.