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MTN Says Nigeria Regulator Has Demanded Better Phone Service

MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest mobile-phone company, said Nigeria’s communications regulator asked it to improve services or stop selling connections to new subscribers in that country by the end of November.

“We have indeed received the Nigerian Communications Commission’s demand and our operation there is dealing with it,” Rich Mkhondo, a spokesman for Johannesburg-based MTN, said by phone today. “We have a fully regulated customer service in Nigeria that deals with all customer issues.”

Nigeria will prevent MTN, Globacom Ltd., and India’s Bharti Airtel Ltd. from selling new lines if their services don’t improve, the National Communications Commission, the industry regulator, said in an e-mailed statement today.

By the deadline, the companies must meet four performance indicators, including call-completion rates and dropped calls, said Reuben Muoka, the commission’s spokesman said in an e-mailed statement today.

“It is not in doubt that the customer experience on your network has been far from satisfactory, especially as the Commission has been inundated with complaints from various subscribers on this matter,” said Muoka, citing the correspondence sent to the three operators.

An Airtel official who answered a phone call to the company’s office declined to comment. A spokesman for Globacom had no immediate comment when reached by phone.

MTN Nigeria is the biggest phone company in Africa’s most populous country. It has 40 million people on its mobile network, a 48 percent share of the market, according to the commission. Globacom has 19 million and India’s Bharti Airtel has 16 million.

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