Monrovia, Liberia-Citizens across the 15 political sub-divisions of Liberia, will now have to further tighten their economic seat-belts as government institutes measures to increase its revenue generation capacity.
The latest is the introduction of a “New Floor Pricing” by GSM regulator, the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA).
The new regulation which took effect on the 1st of September, according to (LTA), is an “intervention to calls by mobile network operators (MNOs) to stop their PREDATORY PRICING WARS which have restrained sector growth and dropped revenue significantly over the last few years. Our market research indicators showed the sector’s instability and anti-competitive behavior was a major factor”.
The head of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority Ivan Brown told Journalists, “mobile network operators have been forced into selling packages to OUTDO each other with offers below market cost thereby creating market instability. He mentioned that the promotional packages have been popular but at the cost of diminishing revenue to providers which hinders innovation, stalls infrastructural development nationwide and reduces the quality of service.
Mr. Brown noted, the LTA was compelled to intervene by stopping what he calls price wars and restore viability.
The network regulator said, the new pricing, voice packages will now have a minimum floor price of one point five-six cents per minute (0.0156) on each call provided in packages to customers by their mobile network operators (MNO).
LTA further stated, data packages will now have a minimum Floor Price of two-point eighteen cents (0.0218) per Megabyte (MB) of data provided to customers by their MNO.
According to the LTA, the model used for the new floor pricing was developed in 2009 and known as the Long Run Incremental Cost Model (LRIC).
The LTA boss concluded by saying, they are confident that consumers will experience increased services through fair pricing and provide an increase in overall revenue.
Orange, according to FPA, claims to still be offering $1 USD for three days call but voice time has been limited to 50 minutes to be used within three days. The news outlet averred, per the new regulation, Lonestar Cell has set a new price floor for data to include $2 for 750MB, $5 for 1.7GB, $10 for 3.8GB, $20 for 7.8GB and $30 for 11.7GB.
For Orange, a gigabyte of data is $2.00. Initially, $2.00 offered 2GB of data for internet browsing.
The measure has coerced Network providers, Lonestar and Orange to make some technical adjustments in services offered to millions of customers in Liberia which many say, is a re-introduction of years-ago, “beeping and begging for calls; simply, “please gimme one minute”.
Continuous “beeping and please gimme one-minute call” practically came to an end over four years ago following the introduction of a three-day free call service for one dollar by Lonestar Cell MTN and then Cellcom GSM.
Many people, most especially impoverished Liberians in slums, market places and hard-to-reach villages say, the Government of Liberia through the LTA took the decision at a wrong time stating, the Country is experiencing economic hard-ship.
They named an abrupt increase in tuition, unregulated transportation sector, high cost of living, escalating prices of commodities, high price of gasoline and fuel and an un-ending increase in the exchange rate which is currently at $210LD to $1USD.
In an interview with KMTV News, a Paynesville resident and student of the University of Liberia Amadu Dugbason, said the new regulation is only intended to increase poverty on the ordinary Liberian people who stood in the rain and withstood the raging Sunshine to vote the current administration into power.