ECS 05/2018 Final Determination and Order – Bahamas Telecommunications Company Ltd. and Be Aliv Limited Fixed Termination Charge Dispute

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) has today published a Final Determination and Order to the Bahamas Telecommunications Company Ltd. (‘BTC’) and Be Aliv Limited (‘Aliv’) (the Parties) relating to their interconnection rate dispute which was submitted to URCA by BTC on 15 August 2017.

By way of background, Aliv’s mobile phone numbers are non-geographic. Therefore, numbers cannot be used to identify the point of call origination from Aliv’s mobile network. BTC contended that this makes it difficult for BTC to measure the volume of intra- and inter-island traffic from Aliv’s subscribers to BTC’s fixed subscribers and apply the correct fixed termination rates set out in Annex G.1 of the URCA-approved BTC Reference Access and Interconnection Offer (“RAIO”).

BTC and Aliv were not able to agree on an appropriate approach to charging termination rates for these calls, and on 15 August 2017 BTC submitted a Notice of Dispute to URCA for resolution of the issue.

Following consideration of BTC’s Notice of Dispute, Aliv’s response to the Notice, and detailed submissions by BTC and Aliv, URCA issued a Preliminary Determination and Draft Order (ECS 25/2017) on 5 December 2017 setting out its proposed findings and giving the Parties the opportunity to make representations or objections on or before 19 January 2018. URCA received submissions from both Parties.

Consequential to its assessment of the submissions received, URCA issued its Final Determination and Order to BTC and Aliv on 3 May 2018 in which URCA made the following findings:

  • The BTC/Aliv Interconnection Agreement provides for two physical points of interconnection (POIs) between Aliv’s mobile network and BTC’s fixed network – one in New Providence and one in Grand Bahama. Aliv uses far-end handover for calls from its mobile network to BTC’s fixed subscribers. Far-end handover means that Aliv hands over the call to BTC at the POI closest to the network termination point of the called party, irrespective of which island the Aliv customer is on when making the call. This means that for an Aliv to BTC fixed call the intra-island termination rate applies where the BTC fixed line customer and the POI are on the same island.
  • Given that Aliv uses far-end handover and its service numbers are non-geographic, a fair and reasonable application of Annex G.1 of the RAIO must take account of the location of the called party and the POI between BTC’s fixed network and Aliv’s mobile network.
  • Because it is technically feasible for BTC to identify the island of the called party by the office code digits of the number, a blended rate is not required to resolve the Dispute. This method of identification along with the traffic management responsibilities established in the BTC RAIO provide a transparent and efficient framework for verifying billing outputs.
  • The correct termination rate for an Aliv mobile call to a ViBe customer is 2.01 cents per minute.
  • Aliv does not require a national call transit service to convey calls to BTC’s fixed subscribers.
  • The Parties shall revise the interconnection payments resulting from any incorrect charges effective from December 2016 to present, based on the above findings.
  • URCA requires both Parties to comply with the remedies outlined above within 30 calendar days from the issuance of this Order.

The full Final Determination and Order can be found below.