ECS 01/2017 – Statement of Results and Final Determination on Mobile Number Portability

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) today published its Statement of Results and Final Determination on Mobile Number Portability (MNP).

On December 14, 2016 URCA issued its Preliminary Determination on the Implementation of Mobile Number Portability in The Bahamas pursuant to Section 80 of the Communications Act, 2009 [ECS 40/2016] (hereinafter referred to as “the Preliminary Determination”). The Preliminary Determination incorporated the Local Number portability Business Rules (“the LNP Business Rules”) and outlined URCA’s preliminary views and proposals relative to the launching of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in The Bahamas. The document invited comments from interested parties on matters related to the implementation of MNP in The Bahamas and subject to responses received, proposed the launch of MNP by 14 February 2017. This proposed date was based on an agreed schedule for the necessary preparatory activities for both providers concerned, namely the Bahamas Telecommunications Company Limited (BTC) and BeAliv Limited (Aliv).

The launch of MNP requires both operators to implement various changes to their networks and business processes, and therefore requires extensive coordination by URCA. Commencing during the last week in January, URCA carried out an assessment of the operators’ readiness for MNP and noted, with disappointment, that neither operator was in a position to ensure a successful implementation of MNP by the proposed 14 February 2017 launch date. URCA was particularly concerned to note that in relation to several of the workflows necessary to support MNP, both Aliv and BTC appeared to have neglected to have made the required progress and moreover, that the information that had been provided on an ongoing basis by both operators to URCA, had not accurately reflected the operators’ actual readiness.

URCA therefore asked an independent advisor to provide expert advice on the remaining work which both operators needed to do to implement MNP, and the time that such work would reasonably take. Further, URCA directed Aliv and BTC to each provide a written assessment of their own readiness and, based on that assessment, to provide URCA with a written commitment of the date on which they would be ready for MNP. Based on the advice of the expert consultant, and the operators’ written commitments, URCA’s Final Determination requires that MNP be available to persons in The Bahamas on any island where mobile services are available from more than one licensee, from 25 April 2017. The relevant licensees (BTC and Aliv) must ensure that they have completed the installation and testing of all required systems and processes for the implementation of MNP by no later than 14 April 2017.

URCA has also issued as part of its Final Determination, the LNP Business Rules which will govern all fixed number portability (FNP) and MNP transactions in The Bahamas, with which all operators must comply. As the LNP Business Rules apply equally to FNP transactions, they supersede and replace the FNP Business Rules which URCA issued in its Second FNP Determination in 2013 and which has governed FNP to date.

Finally, URCA’s Final Determination addresses various ancillary matters pertaining to MNP implementation, including the schedule for testing, and the public awareness campaign which will be undertaken by URCA and the licensees to ensure that the public is fully aware of the way that MNP will work in The Bahamas.