URCA Grants Approval to BTC’s Application for Retail Charge for Directory Assistance

February 2, 2012, the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) published its final decision of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company Limited’s (BTC) February 21, 2011 application for a permanent price change to local directory enquiry services. Approval for a per call retail charge of thirty five cents (35¢), for calls originating on BTC’s network, was granted with various conditions. Including:

  • The first three (3) calls each month, from fixed lines (residential and business) and mobile numbers to local directory assistance services shall be free of charge
  • All enquiries from public pay phones shall be free of charge
  • BTC shall publish and keep current its online telephone directory

Directory assistance via mobile and fixed line services has become a chargeable value added service worldwide. URCA is satisfied that BTC’s application is reflective of regulatory practices in competitive markets around the globe.

Comparatively, regional directory enquiry dialling attracts per call rates as high as $1.00, plus additional charges of up to 50¢ on each call, if the customer making the enquiry also wishes to be connected automatically to the requested number. BTC will provide this additional connection service at no additional charge.

Analysis of data on directory dialling assistance call volumes from January 1 2011, to October 31, 2011 revealed that on average, households in The Bahamas make approximately 1.2 calls to directory enquiry services per month; and just one in every three mobile subscribers uses the service each month. URCA is therefore reasonably satisfied that the provision stipulating no charges for the first three (3) of monthly calls per fixed line and mobile number minimises the impact of the new charge to customers. The provision also means that any single holder of separate fixed and mobile lines will in effect have access to six (6) free directory assistance calls each month.

This final decision on BTC’s pricing application follows a consultative process in which URCA licensees and members of the general public were invited to provide feedback on the proposal. URCA extends its thanks to all that participated in the exercise. URCA will review any impacts that may arise from these measures, on the elderly and visually impaired, in furtherance of URCA’s commitment to the welfare of these and other special groups.

URCA’s full press release is available via download of the attached PDF document. A copy of URCA’s Statement of Results and Final Decision is also attached below for download.