By JACOB POK
THE mobile telecommunications “war” has peaked with Digicel shutting out 80% of bemobile subscribers over unsettled outstanding bills.
Digicel’s shutting down of its network from receiving bemobile calls follows a National Court ruling last week.
The court ordered bemobile and Telikom to pay Digicel some outstanding bills (mobile termination charges) amounting to millions of kina since June.
Digicel has sent a notice to its users that “Calls to Digicel from bemobile are restricted due to non-payment of bills”.
This means bemobile users can only send text messages to Digicel phones but are barred from making calls while Digicel users can call and send text messages to bemobile phones.
bemobile and Telikom are to decide who is to pay Digicel the outstanding bills.
Digicel said Telikom, a 50% shareholder of bemobile, which allowed calls and text messages originating from customers on bemobile’s network pass via Telikom’s network, should be also liable to settle the bills.
Telikom, since June, maintained that it was not obliged to pay Digicel mobile termination charges, claiming it was a matter for bemobile to settle.
bemoble has also asserted that since June, it was not obliged to pay Digicel any bills, saying it was Telikom’s responsibility.
It is still unclear who is to pay Digicel the due bills before Digicel reconnected its network.
Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika, while handing down his ruling, suggested bemobile and Telikom deliberate and decide on who is to pay Digicel the call termination fees.
It is believed about K3 million in termination fees is owed to Digicel by either Telikom or bemobile.
The mobile termination charges for both mobile companies are set by the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC).