MTN’s Zambian Unit Challenges Ban on Free Airtime Promotions

MTN Group Ltd.’s Zambia unit has applied for a judicial review of a regulator’s ban on mobile phone service promotions.

The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority’s decision to halt marketing promotions by Africa’s biggest mobile service provider in the country is illegal as it doesn’t have the powers to do so, MTN Zambia Ltd. said in court documents filed yesterday. The decision was arbitrary and unreasonable, MTN said.

The regulator on Nov. 26 ordered Zambia’s three mobile service providers, which also include the local unit of Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Zamtel, to halt the promotions immediately. The free talktime minutes offered to customers have caused congestion on mobile networks and reduced service quality, the authority said.

Ngabo Nankonde, a spokeswoman for the authority, didn’t answer two calls to her office and two calls to her mobile phone failed to connect. A spokeswoman for Airtel Zambia declined to comment.

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