Uzbekistan throws USD80 million fine at MTS

The State Committee of Uzbekistan has imposed over USD 80 million fines on beleaguered cellco MTS Uzbekistan for violating antimonopoly, consumer protection and advertising laws.

MTS has said that it will appeal the decision, but is unlikely to receive a official pardon. Since June this year, MTS has been accused of breaking numerous laws, from failing to acquire the correct permissions before erecting towers to laundering money, as part of what is widely believed to be a government shakedown.

Late last month, the cellco’s operating licenses were also suspended, for ten days at first though the duration was subsequently extended to 90 days. As MTS cannot operate, its customers, (9.5 million in March 2012) represented 37.6% of the wireless market at that date, have moved to rival providers.

Though local news reports have raised doubts over the capability of the smaller cellcos to deal with the sudden influx of subscribers.

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