Cameroon’s Fibre Saga: MTN has right to build metro network but Camtel keeps national infrastructure monopoly
The Telecommunications Regulatory Board has settled the dispute between Camtel and MTN Cameroon. Camtel continues to have a monopoly over long-distance, national infrastructure but MTN has the right to build metro fibre. The regulator ART has stopped it doing so not because it has no right to but because it failed to seek prior permission.
MTN was building a metro fibre in Douala and the Littoral region to ease congestion on communication links in the city. Camtel saw this as a breach of its monopoly rights over infrastructure.
But last week a decision taken by the General Manager of Agence de Régulation des Télécommunications (ART), Jean-Louis Beh Mengue that specified that metro fibre roll-out was different inter-urban transmission. The latter remains the monopoly right of Camtel. However, MTN was asked to stop its roll-out until it had sought permission from the regulator.
In response, MTN accepted the decision of the Agence de Régulation des Télécommunications (ART), said it was pleased that it clarified matters and brought the not-so-cordial relations between them and Camtel to an end. MTN, through itspress statement, promised to abide by the rules and to work in together with ART.
It also reiterated the need to put up the fibre infrastructure in place, stressing that it would resolve the problem of interference and increase the capacity of its network, thereby allowing subscribers to have better quality services.
Camtel may have a monopoly over national infrastructure but it has signally failed to build a national fibre backbone despite keeping prices on its SAT3 capacity the highest anywhere long the whole African section of the route. Furthermore, despite being given rights to operate the fibre on the Yaounde-Doba (in southern Chad) oil pipeline, it has failed to close the 273 kilometre gap that would have connected it to its SAT3 landing station. What is the point of having a protected monopoly if it fails to deliver?