Etisalat Refutes Filing Multiple Suits Against NCC, MTN
Lagos, Nigeria; November, 2015: Our attention has been drawn to misleading insinuations making the rounds in the media that Etisalat Nigeria has filed multiple suits against the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and MTN Nigeria.
The insinuations have arisen largely from a press statement reportedly issued by MTN Nigeria and published by some print organisations and online media platforms under the headline, “MTN confirms legal fireworks with Etisalat over Visafone.”
Etisalat Nigeria is compelled to set the facts straight on the intent and status of the legal action it instituted against the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and MTN Nigeria in July 2015, due to the misrepresentation of facts about the case as contained in some print and online media reports of Wednesday 9, February 2016.
Etisalat wishes to state categorically that at no time were multiple suits filed either against the NCC or MTN on the same matter as insinuated. Etisalat wishes to affirm that the current litigation against MTN Nigeria and Visafone is on a completely different issue. It is germane to state for clarity that the current litigation is not pricing or tariff related. The suit under reference was instituted by Etisalat Nigeria against MTN Nigeria and Visafone Ltd to challenge MTN’s use of the 800MHz spectrum following the acquisition of Visafone. It is therefore materially different in intent from the former action.
The current action is considered necessary, as it will entrench the dominance of MTN in the retail data services market. It would be recalled that MTN Nigeria was declared dominant by the Nigerian Communications Commission ‘NCC’ in 2013 and remains dominant in the wholesale leased line and retail voice markets. The use of the 800MHz spectrum to deploy broadband services ahead of its competitors, particularly those who prior to MTN’s purchase of Visafone, held similar spectrum bands as MTN, will further entrench MTN’s dominance in the Nigerian telecommunications sector.
Sometime in 2015, Etisalat Nigeria’s attention was drawn to a waiver granted by NCC to MTN Nigeria to offer a 30% differential between its on-net and off-net retail tariffs, contrary to the obligation imposed on MTN Nigeria under the Determination of Dominance.
Etisalat Nigeria thereafter filed an action against NCC and MTN Nigeria seeking a reversal of the waiver as it was in contravention of the subsisting obligation imposed on MTN Nigeria under the Determination of Dominance.
In response to Etisalat Nigeria’s legal action, NCC filed processes stating categorically that it had directed MTN Nigeria “to maintain status quo of the dominant obligation, that is, to revert to maintaining parity between on-net and off-net tariff charges with immediate effect”. This was effectively a reversal of the waiver that Etisalat Nigeria had challenged in that particular suit.
Consequently, Etisalat Nigeria filed a notice of discontinuance in the suit and withdrew the action in December 2015, because the objective of the suit had been accomplished. The latest legal action is therefore materially different in intent from the former and the recent insinuations are therefore misleading and unfortunate to say the least.