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General News of Thursday, 15 July 2010

Source: The Talk

GLO’s PR prank against government exposed

GLO Mobile Ghana’s announcement that it was considering leaving Ghana is turning out to be just a public relations prank calculated to divert attention from the company’s unpreparedness to deliver on its high profile promise of rolling out in Ghana.
The Talk can reveal authoritatively that the company as of now has no existing communication network on the ground, hence its inability to meet its obligations under the license it obtained from the National communications Authority of Ghana (NCA).
However, instead of concentrating on rolling out the network to achieve its own target, GLO mobile decided to go into Public relations overdrive calculated to blackmail the government into granting the company preferential treatment to be allowed to ignore statutory obligations that all other communications service providers must comply with.
It may be recalled that the May 24th edition of the Daily Graphic of Ghana and other media houses reported that GLO Mobile had decided to divest its investment in Ghana because some interests were bent on sabotaging the company's nation-wide take-off plan. The reasons for the intention to divest its interest in Ghana as provided to the media by a “source close to the company,” included; “an encroachment on the frequency allocated to it [GLO] by the NCA, the repeated sabotage of its billboards and the delay in securing approval for the swift deployment of its infrastructure, such as base stations.”
A visit by this paper to the company’s facilities and cell sites however shows no communication networks installed. There are no antennas or cabling on their Masts. In fact, most of the shelters meant to house the GSM base station equipment were being used as sleeping places by security guards on the site since no equipment had been installed.
Communication experts state emphatically that without a network, GLO cannot detect encroachment on its frequencies.
The report on GLO in the Daily Graphic cited an anonymous investment expert, as stating that GLO’s intended withdrawal from Ghana would be a major setback to the efforts of government to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), generate employment and stimulate economic growth,” and therefore urged the government to intervene on the issue. True to this, The Talk picked up considerable investor anxiety, particularly from the international community, who had limited information on the investment environment in Ghana.
Two year ago, the NCA in a letter dated June 12th, 2008, awarded GLO Mobile Ghana a mobile cellular license to operate mobile phone services in Ghana. This happened when all the available GSM frequency had been allocated for use.
GLO managed to get the then Government of former President Kuffour to re-allocate to them, GSM frequency previously allocated to Ghana’s National Security Agencies. It was agreed that the government would get National security to migrate to another frequency. The migration has since been completed at a considerable cost to the Ghanaian tax payer, and the frequency has been lying idle ever since.
Another area of concern for GLO was the temporary ban on the erection of telecom masts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Investigations however revealed that GLO was erecting some of its Mast without permit, flouting directives by industry and environmental regulatory authorities that must be respected by all service providers.
The government became aware of this illegal activity when a Mast belonging to GLO collapse at Ashale-Botwe, a suburb of Accra causing the death of two people. The government requested GLO to produce the permit for the mast but the company could not produce the permit.
GLO report is cites the ban on the erection of communication mast as one of its frustrations. The ban has been lifted recently.
The company landed a cargo plane at the Kotoka International Airport to announce the arrival of its equipment. Amidst other heavily funded promotions in Ghana is the company’s sponsorship of Ghana’s premiere football league with millions of Ghana Cedis.
GLO is undoubtedly, one of the most visible brands in Ghana even though it has no network in place to provide the services it promised. The branding of GLO has been very successful in building public expectations for their service.
Ghanaian are however waiting for GLO wondering when the company will begin to offer its much awaited services to the public, two years after receiving its license.
At the 2010 Consumer Forum organised by the NCA as part of the International Telecommunications Unions (ITU)’s celebrations, the representative of the company, in an answer to a question from a participant as to when the company would begin offering its services, could only say GLO would become operational soon.
Two weeks ago, this paper sent a questionnaire to GLO’s Ghana office on some of the issues raised by the Daily Graphic report, but has not received any response yet. Among various issues raised in our questionnaire to GLO was the request for the company to provide the list of base stations that have had their frequencies encroached on.
The paper would update readers on the issues as they unfold.

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