URCA Sets Preliminary Position after Market Review of Retail Fixed Electronic Communications Services in The Bahamas 

 The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) announces its preliminary findings and invites public commentary on the review of the state of competition within the markets for retail fixed electronic communications services in The Bahamas. This encompasses retail fixed voice, retail fixed broadband, and retail pay TV services. 

In its comprehensive Preliminary Determination, URCA has outlined its provisional assessment of the competitive dynamics within these markets and the consequent need for continued ex-ante regulation to ensure fair competition and consumer protection. URCA is now seeking feedback on its initial stance through written responses to consultation questions detailed in the document. 

 URCA’s analysis has identified Significant Market Power (SMP) in various segments of the retail fixed service market. 

In the Retail Fixed Voice Services market, Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), as the primary provider, is found to have Significant Market Power. 

URCA proposes that BTC will be required to continue offering its current standalone fixed voice tariff plans and, subject to URCA’s pre-approval, BTC shall not increase prices of entry-level standalone fixed voice plans over last year’s inflation, or 5 percent a year in case inflation exceeds 5 percent during that year. 

Regarding Retail Fixed Broadband Services, the market is divided into two geographic segments, with Cable Bahamas Limited (CBL) having SMP in areas where it competes with BTC, and BTC holding SMP in regions without CBL’s presence. 

URCA proposes that both providers are required to continue offering current standalone fixed broadband plans and bundles comprising fixed voice and fixed broadband services. Also, subject to URCA’s pre-approval, both providers shall not increase the prices of entry-level standalone fixed broadband plans over last year’s inflation, or 5 percent a year in case inflation exceeds 5 percent during that year. 

Additionally, BTC must ensure uniform pricing across the two geographic areas. 

In the area of Retail Pay TV Services, URCA’s preliminary position is that CBL is the SMP provider of retail pay TV services and is subject to restrictions preventing price increases beyond the inflation rate or 5 percent annually for its entry-level standalone pay TV product. 

This measure aims to promote access to essential services by protecting consumers from potential price hikes. 

With multi-product bundles that include retail pay TV services (i.e., currently double-play including fixed voice and pay TV, double-play including fixed broadband and pay TV services, and triple-play including fixed voice, fixed broadband and pay TV services), URCA’s preliminary position is that CBL has SMP in multi-product bundles including pay TV. However, no additional remedies are proposed for multi-product bundles including pay TV beyond those applied to the other markets noted above. 

Beyond the above market-specific measures, both BTC and CBL will continue to be subject to URCA’s Accounting Separation Guidelines. 

For standalone products that do not require URCA’s pre-approval for changes, the preliminary view is that both providers will be required to notify URCA of any changes in retail tariff plans. Additionally, both operators are mandated to publish all tariffs on their websites, enhancing transparency and accessibility for consumers. 

URCA encourages all interested parties to review the Preliminary Determination and contribute their perspectives by responding to the consultation questions provided. 

Following the consultation period, URCA will consider all feedback and issue a Final Determination, outlining the results of the consultation and detailing the next steps in the regulatory process. 

This initiative underscores URCA’s commitment to fostering a competitive and fair market landscape for electronic communications services in The Bahamas, ensuring that consumers enjoy high-quality services at reasonable prices. 

Directions on how to respond and timelines are contained in the consultation document, which is published on its website at www.urcabahamas.bs. 

About URCA: 

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) is the regulatory body responsible for overseeing the electronic communications, broadcasting, and electricity sectors in The Bahamas. 

Media Contact: 

Juan McCartney 

Corporate and Consumer Relations Manager 

Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority 


1 (242) 396-5242 

The Full PDF document can be found HERE