ECS 18/2016 Statement of Results & Final Determination & Order National Roaming Services

On 30 March 2016, the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) issued a public consultation document entitled “Provision of National Roaming Services on the Cellular Mobile Networks of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company Ltd. in The Bahamas to the Second Cellular Mobile Operator for an Interim Period“(ECS 10/2016).1 The consultation considered whether in accordance with the provisions of the Communications Act, 2009 (“Comms Act”) and the Electronic Communications Sector Policy (“ECS Policy”), it would be necessary and proportionate for URCA to impose a Significant Market Power (SMP) obligation on the Bahamas Telecommunications Company Ltd. (“BTC”) to provide national roaming services to the second cellular mobile operator (“NewCo2015 Limited”) for an interim period of time during the build-out of its own cellular mobile network.

The consultation document provided an opportunity for members of the public, licensees and other interested parties to submit written comments to URCA. In summary, the consultation consisted of two main parts:

  • URCA’s rationale for the Preliminary Determination on national roaming, including its SMP assessment of the wholesale market for national roaming services in The Bahamas; and
  • URCA’s proposed wording for a Preliminary Determination and Draft Order on national roaming).

The document also contained a number of questions to assist respondents in preparing their written comments on the consultation.

Initial responses to the consultation, and reply comments to responses received, were received from two parties, namely:

  • BTC; and
  • Cable Bahamas Ltd. (“CBL”) on behalf of NewCo2015 Limited (NewCo).

The full text of all written submissions received can be found at URCA wishes to thank BTC and CBL for their participation in the consultation process.

This present document sets out URCA’s Final Determination and Order on national roaming, taking into account the comments received during the consultation period. In particular, URCA has determined that BTC should provide national roaming to NewCo for a restricted period of up to 24 months from the issuance date of NewCo’s Individual Operating Licence (IOL) and Individual Spectrum Licence (ISL). Broadly, this temporary obligation is intended to enable NewCo to offer its pre-paid and post-paid subscribers a range of mobile services in areas outside of its network coverage area. The obligation is  uni-directional because NewCo is under no obligation to supply BTC with equivalent inputs to NewCo’s own cellular mobile network and infrastructure. In preparing this document, URCA has given utmost consideration to all the substantive comments received from both licensees.