Liberia Orange, MTN fight regulator on mobile price hikes



a car driving on a city street filled with lots of traffic


© Provided by Quartz


Liberia, one of Africa’s smallest economies, has seen a rapid growth in mobile users over the last decade, but its regulators are stuck in an ongoing pricing battle with two of the region’s largest telecoms companies in the world.

French giant Orange and Lonestar Cell MTN, a subsidiary of South Africa’s MTN Group have told consumers they are increasing prices because of a new order which imposes additional surcharges of $0.008 for each minute of voice calls and $0.0065 on each megabyte of data.

Under the new plan, a $1 recharge card is worth 15 minutes of voice calls, down from 45 mins. And $2 will buy 600 megabytes on internet data down from 1.2 gigabytes.

Loading...

Load Error

In response, the state regulator, Liberia Telecommunication Authority, said on Oct. 8 the mobile companies were engaging in illegal price-fixing and collusion . It gave the network companies 12 hours to rescind their new prices which they did not.

The regulator argues the price floors established in 2019 gave the network companies a windfall of $104 million in extra revenue. And that the new prices are designed for additional profiteering.

French giant Orange and Lonestar Cell MTN, a subsidiary of South Africa’s MTN Group have been in a long-running battle with the Liberia Telecommunications Authority over charges which are aimed at increasing competitiveness and in turn bring stability to the market.

Over the years, the two companies have become a dominant duopoly providing voice calls and data at cheap prices, thus effectively pricing competitors like Novafone out of the market. Novafone was later bought by Lonestar-MTN.

The mobile network companies are fighting to lower their prices arguing that ordinary Liberians cannot afford a price regime which increases the average phone user’s costs by as much as 100%.

In

‘Fortnite’ Has Given Up 73 Million iOS Only Users In Order To Fight Against Apple

Another day, another update that does not sound terribly good for Epic in its ongoing fight against Apple, as the Fortnite developer tries to get some regulation in place to ensure that the 30% cut Apple takes in its iOS app store is altered or the platform opens up more to competition.

A court has just ruled that for now, Apple cannot be forced to put Fortnite back on the app store, after it was taken off due to breaking the rules there by sidestepping the 30% cut with an update that allowed direct payment to Epic. But they also said Apple cannot take further, more destructive action against Epic by going after the entire Unreal engine, which would cause a ton of collateral damage to games and apps not owned by Epic at all.

The court documents reveal some pretty stunning statistics about just what Epic has given up to pursue this possibly quixotic fight with Apple:

  • 116 million mobile users on iOS.
  • Of those, 73 million only played Fortnite on iOS and no other platforms.
  • 2.5 million DAUs on iOS, which represents 10% of Fortnite 25 million DAU total.

There’s no word on how many millions of users Epic has given up with its similar ban on the Google Play store. Still millions, no doubt, though less than this, and Fortnite can still technically run on Android devices outside of the Play store.

Both Apple and Epic are touting victories from this last ruling, Apple saying they’re grateful the court recognizes that Epic deliberately broke its rules, Epic saying they’re grateful the court is stopping action against Unreal. And yet the longer this goes on, the more of an uphill battle this seems like it’s going to be for Epic who has to convince

Huawei CFO Dealt Fresh Setback in Fight Against Extradition

Meng Wanzhou leaves the Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Sept. 28.

Photographer: Darryl Dyck/Bloomberg

Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou failed to convince a Canadian judge to grant her access to confidential documents pertaining to her extradition fight.

Meng has pressed for additional disclosure about the circumstances of her arrest at Vancouver’s airport on a U.S. handover request in December 2018. She argues her arrest was unlawful and that her extradition case should be dismissed.

In August, she sought an order from the Supreme Court of British Columbia to force the Canadian government to authorize full access to documents she said had been redacted or withheld arbitrarily. Canada argued that divulging them would violate confidentiality agreements with clients and third parties.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes “upheld a majority of Canada’s privilege claims,” Canada’s Department of Justice said in a statement late Thursday, without providing further details on the ruling. Holmes’ decision wasn’t immediately available from the courthouse after hours.

It’s the latest setback for Meng — eldest daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei — who lives under house arrest at a Vancouver mansion she owns. In May, Meng saw her first shot at release quashed when Holmes ruled that her case met a key test of Canada’s extradition law. Three months later, a federal court rejected her bid to access documents withheld on national security grounds.

One of Meng’s legal strategies is to show that there was an abuse of process so serious during her arrest that it warrants throwing out her extradition case. She accuses Canadian border agents, police and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation of unlawfully using the pretext of an immigration check to get her to disclose evidence they could use against her. Border agents have

20 years after Microsoft’s antitrust fight, Steve Ballmer betting that Big Tech won’t be broken up

Steve Ballmer at the GeekWire Summit 2019 (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

Twenty years after Microsoft waged its own antitrust battle with the U.S. government, former CEO Steve Ballmer is betting that Congress won’t break up Big Tech this time around.

In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday (below), Ballmer was reacting to a U.S. House antitrust subcommittee report released this week that found challenges presented by the dominance and business practices of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

RELATED: House antitrust probe says Amazon has ‘monopoly power’ over sellers, company slams ‘fringe’ findings

“I’ll bet money that they will not be broken up,” Ballmer told CNBC.

The 450-page report from the subcommittee’s Democratic leaders concludes a 16-month investigation into the four companies as the operators of major online markets. It finds that the market power of the tech giants “has diminished consumer choice, eroded innovation and entrepreneurship in the U.S. economy, weakened the vibrancy of the free and diverse press, and undermined Americans’ privacy.”

Ballmer said he doesn’t think the notion of breaking up the companies answers most of the questions or complaints that are being raised against the companies. And he thinks Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple would do well to engage with regulators now rather than take unilateral action that they hope satisfies those calling the shots.

“If I’m in these guys’ shoes, I say, ‘Come on, let’s get down there and let’s regulate me and let’s get it over with so I know what I can do,’” Ballmer told CNBC.

Ballmer is currently the billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise and founder of the Bellevue, Wash.-based nonpartisan, not-for-profit civic data initiative USAFacts.

Ballmer also discussed USAFacts’ launch of a $10 million ad campaign, to air during the nationally televised presidential debates, aimed at illustrating

Paytm, other Indian startups vow to fight ‘big daddy’ Google’s clout: sources

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Dozens of India’s technology startups, chafing at Google’s local dominance of key apps, are banding together to consider ways to challenge the U.S. tech giant, including by lodging complaints with the government and courts, executives told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past the sign of “Google for India”, the company’s annual technology event in New Delhi, India, September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Sankalp Phartiyal/File Photo

Although Google, owned by Alphabet Inc GOOGL.O, has worked closely with India’s booming startup sector and is ramping up its investments, it has recently angered many tech companies with what they say are unfair practices.

Setting the stage for a potential showdown, entrepreneurs held two video conferences this week to strategise, three executives told Reuters.

“It’s definitely going to be a bitter fight,” said Dinesh Agarwal, CEO of e-commerce firm IndiaMART INMR.NS. “Google will lose this battle. It’s just a matter of time.”

He said executives have discussed forming a new startup association aimed chiefly at lodging protests with the Indian government and courts against the Silicon Valley company.

Nearly 99% of the smartphones of India’s half a billion users run on Google’s Android mobile operating system. Some Indian startups say that allows Google to exert excessive control over the types of apps and other services they can offer, an allegation the company denies.

The uproar began last month when Google removed popular payments app Paytm from its Play Store, citing policy violations. This led to a sharp rebuke from the Indian firm’s founder, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, whose app returned to the Google platform a few hours later, after Paytm made certain changes.

In a video call on Tuesday, Sharma called Google the “big daddy” that controls the “oxygen supply of (app) distribution” on Android phones, according to an attendee.