ECS 09/2018 Final Determination Resale Broadband Obligation

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) has today published a Final Determination on the requirement for The Bahamas Telecommunications Company Ltd. (“BTC”) and Cable Bahamas Ltd. (“CBL”) to continue to offer a resale fixed broadband product.  The determination also addresses the need for both operators to update their current product offerings to ensure they are fit-for-purpose and in-line with market developments.

By way of background, URCA imposed an obligation as part of its 2010 Final Decision (ECS 11/2010) for both BTC and CBL to offer a resale fixed broadband product in the respective geographic markets where they were considered to have significant market power (SMP).  This SMP obligation aims to provide a low-cost option for alternative providers to enter the fixed broadband market and offer retail services in direct competition to BTC and CBL without having to deploy their own network infrastructure and therefore furthers URCA’s objective of promoting competition.

In keeping with the principle of light-touch regulation, URCA did not review or approve the terms and conditions or pricing of these offers beyond its high-level compliance check of the offers in 2010.

After several industry players raised concerns about the nature of the current offers, URCA was concerned that there had not been any take-up of the resale broadband services to date given the elapsed time since the offers were available. For these reasons, URCA commenced this review.

URCA issued the Preliminary Determination for this consultation on 31 October 2017. The first round of responses to the consultation were initially due on 15 January 2018 but were later extended to 28 February 2018. The second round of responses were initially due on 14 February 2018 and then extended to 2 April 2018.

URCA received responses from Andros Lakeside Development Company Ltd (“ADC”), BTC, and CBL as a part of the first round. Subsequently, BTC and CBL made submissions as part of the second round.

In this Final Determination, URCA reconfirmed the SMP designations of BTC and CBL in wholesale fixed broadband services and hence the need to maintain this obligation. URCA then reviewed the price and non-price terms and conditions of BTC’s and CBL’s resale offers to ensure that these are reasonable and can support the development of effective and  efficient competition in the retail broadband services market.

Taking into account the submissions received, URCA determined that:

  • CBL holds SMP in the wholesale market for fixed broadband services in New Providence, Abaco, Eleuthera and Grand Bahama only; and
  • BTC holds SMP in the wholesale market for fixed broadband services in all areas where CBL does not currently offer retail fixed broadband services.

In view of this, BTC and CBL are required to amend and resubmit revised resale broadband offers as set out in Section 2 of the Final Determination to URCA on or before 31 August 2018. Upon review and approval, URCA will indicate the timeframe for both operators to publish the respective resale broadband offers on their websites.

The full Final Determination can be found below.