Ghana's two leading telecom giants have recently been engaged in what can be described as a cellular phone war. The two companies are Scancom Limited, operators of Areeba GSM network and Ghana Telecom, operators of Ghana's largest fixed line network and ONEtouch GSM cellular network.
The war started with Scancom threatening, in a letter dated October 19, 2005 and addressed to the acting Director General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Major J.R.K Tandoh, to block interconnection with Ghana Telecom in Kumasi.
Scancom accused Ghana Telecom of routing ONEtouch traffic in Kumasi to Scancom through the E1 lines designated for fixed network traffic only.
In the said letter, Scancom wrote "We would like to draw your attention that during the month of September, Ghana Telecom routed 3,552,854 minutes on behalf of ONEtouch on the interconnections E1s designated to fixed network traffic in Accra and Kumasi".
This letter, duly signed by Scancom's MD Mr Ahmad Farroukh, added: "We regret to inform you that no action has been taken on this matter and Monday, October 24, 2005 to come, if Ghana Telecom continues such an illegal practice, we find ourselves obliged to block our interconnection with Ghana Telecom in Kumasi".
As a result of this, ONEtouch GSM on Sunday sent a text message to all its subscribers, reading: "Areeba is restricting our calls and has threatened to block all calls from ONEtouch and GT on Monday. Please bear with us while we fix the problem".
On Monday, Mr Farroukh was interviewed on Accra-based Joy FM's Super Morning, where he debunked the statement issued by ONEtouch and said the reverse was the case. He added that NCA had intervened into the matter and had invited both parties to the negotiation table.
After the meeting on Monday, the Director-General of the NCA said to the media: "We will not hesitate to sanction any operator who attempts to block calls from one network to another. He added, "I told Areeba that it was not right to threaten to block calls, while I told Ghana Telecom it had no right to create panic and I hope they all understand".