Local units of Orange, Viettel and MTN were fined a combined XAF3.5 billion ($6 million) by authorities in Cameroon for failing to properly register SIM cards and not meeting network improvement targets, Cameroon Press Agency reported.

Orange received a XAF1.5 billion fee, while the other two operators were charged XAF1 billion each by the country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Agency.

In a statement, the regulator said all three operators had failed to comply with rules set out in September 2015 related to the registration of SIM cards and identification of customers.

It added operators had also been warned for not honouring commitments to improve the quality of their networks, claiming they were “still deteriorating”. The country’s authorities also demanded wholesale rates were cut in some areas, with the aim of reducing consumer prices.

This is not the first time the country has targeted the telecommunications sector, with MTN previously found in breach of unregistered subscriber rules in 2016. Operators have also faced accusations of fraud.

The three operators are by far the largest providers in Cameroon, serving more than 99 per cent of the country’s 21.9 million connections between them.

GSMA Intelligence connection figures for Q1 had MTN leading the market with 9 million, followed by Orange (7.3 million) and Viettel-owned Nexttel (5.5 million).