The clock of the Lebanese telecommunications sector is ticking and the first in line is Touch.
The stations that keep the private mobile telecoms company alive are quickly losing their reserves of diesel fuel; an essential component for keeping cellular network operations up and running.
As reported by Al-Akhbar, the fact that the Touch network is on the verge of collapse due to its stock of fuel running out slowly was already felt by the Lebanese users subscribed to its services.
On Monday, June 1st, the Touch station situated in Danniyeh shut off completely after it burned up all that remained of its combustibles. In effect, Touch subscribers were left without cellular coverage for hours that day.
It was only after the company’s employees transported some diesel fuel from another station that the network went back online. However, as it seems, coverage may not remain stable for much longer.
What remains of Touch’s fuel reserves can only last for a few days from now and, when they run out, the company will have no way to keep its stations functioning.
The source of this problem dates back to last year. In 2019, Touch’s administration decided to quit signing and paying its due bills, whereby it receives the components and materials necessary to keep everything running.
Naturally, the bills have been compiling since then and suppliers stopped providing the company with diesel fuel in March 2020. Since then, it has been running on fumes.
Not only is Touch suffering a severe shortage of combustibles but also of the technicians and maintenance components needed to keep many services, including customer service, from shutting down.
With that said, unless Touch pays its dues very soon, the company and its subscribers may end up in a very bad position.
Notably, amid the chaos, speculations have surfaced that these downhill developments are part of a supposed plan to weaken the cellular network before handing it over to the public sector as planned, Al-Akhbar reported.
On the bright side, the Telecommunications Minister has the power to step in and implement an emergency solution. According to the same source, it would consist of the minister contacting the central bank with a request to exceptionally permit the required funds to be released to the suppliers.