BEIRUT

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Harb to revoke mobile licenses unless quality improved

  • File - The Alfa building is seen in Beirut, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Telecoms Minister Boutros Harb Wednesday warned the Zain Group and Orascom Telecom that the government would terminate their contacts unless the cellular networks’ quality was improved in few hours, media reports said.

“The minister sent a warning to the companies in which he complained about the malfunctions that have recently occurred in an unprecedented manner on the cellular network which led to a decline in the quality of services,” the ministry said in a statement.

Harb asked the companies to restore the networks’ performance within a period of a few hours or the “ministry would be forced to terminate the contracts and hold them legally responsible for their actions.”

The Zain Group manages touch, which was previously known as MTC, while Orascom Telecom runs Alfa. Both networks are owned by the government, but their management is contracted out to the companies.

The companies were not available for comment.

Despite the huge investment in upgrading the telecoms sector, the quality of the service remains poor and customers complain that on some occasions phone calls are cut off or interrupted.

It is still unclear whether Harb will call for a new tender Thursday if the telecoms companies fail to improve the quality of the services quickly.

The Cabinet renewed the contracts with both companies for another three months after the firms reduced their rates and pledged to improve the quality of their services.

In March, Harb pledged to slash the prices of phone and Internet services before his term in office expired.

“I am sure that we can implement these measures in two months and if I had any doubts about our capacity to slash prices within this period of time, I would not have taken this initiative in the first place,” he said during a news conference held at the Telecommunications Ministry.

Harb said his plans could not be implemented until steps were taken by the Finance Ministry.

However, the decision to reduce prices needs the approval of the Cabinet and Finance Ministry.

The telecoms sector generates more than $1.5 billion a year for the treasury, making it the third-largest source of state income.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 08, 2014, on page 5.
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Summary

Telecoms Minister Boutros Harb Wednesday warned the Zain Group and Orascom Telecom that the government would terminate their contacts unless the cellular networks' quality was improved in few hours, media reports said.

The Zain Group manages touch, which was previously known as MTC, while Orascom Telecom runs Alfa.

It is still unclear whether Harb will call for a new tender Thursday if the telecoms companies fail to improve the quality of the services quickly.

The Cabinet renewed the contracts with both companies for another three months after the firms reduced their rates and pledged to improve the quality of their services.


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