S.Africa's MTN denies report Iran network blocked

JOHANNESBURG, June 24 Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:43am EDT

JOHANNESBURG, June 24 (Reuters) - South Africa's MTN Group (MTNJ.J) said on Wednesday its MTN Iran network was working and denied a report it would lose a month's revenue from the country because of blocked mobile phone signals.

"MTN network is running in Iran and there is nothing wrong with it," MTN Group spokeswoman Nozipho Januray-Bardill said.

Local media reported on Wednesday that MTN may lose at least a month's revenue in Iran, its third largest market, after the government blocked cellular network signals following a disputed June 12 election.

The Iranian government blocked SMS text messages during polling after opposition candidates used them to galvanise key young voters during a fiercely contested election campaign, and Internet and mobile phone communications have been severely disrupted since.

Domestic and international media have also been restricted.

MTN Group owns 49 percent of MTN Irancell, which was launched in late 2006 as Iran's No. 2 cellular operator. Some investors deemed the expansion risky, given the country's nuclear stand-off with the West.

MTN, which operates mobile phone networks across Africa and the Middle East, has more than 16 million customers in Iran and says the country has major growth potential. (Reporting by Gugulakhe Lourie)

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