Telecoms regulator vies with National Assembly for market control

27 Jun 2005

Nicaragua’s outgoing telecoms regulator Telcor is refusing to hand over control of the market to a new director appointed by the National Assembly, in protest at the body’s attempts to stymie its liberalisation of the country’s wireline and wireless sectors. The Assembly appointed Freddy Carrión as the country’s new telecoms comptroller on 2 June, but Telcor is reluctant to hand him the reins until the long running issue of liberalisation is resolved. The regulator has the unlikely backing of president Enrique Bolaños. The president went to the Central American Justice Court earlier this month to secure an injunction against Carrión taking office and the new comptroller was refused entry to the regulator’s offices on 14 June. Carrión says he will once again try to take up his post later today.

Telcor had originally planned to liberalise the market on 18 December 2004. The proposal included the transformation of Telcor into the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (Sitep), operating under the wing of the public services watchdog, Superintendencia de Servicios Públicos (Sisep), in an attempt to transfer regulatory power away from the government to the legislature. However, the National Assembly forced the liberalisation date back to 15 April 2005 after fixed line incumbent Enitel pointed out that its most recent concession contract granted it exclusivity until that date. Barely two months later the revised deadline itself was put in doubt when the Assembly demanded the drafting of new anti-monopoly laws before power was handed over to Sisep. A compromise was reached before the deadline, whereby Telcor oversaw market liberalisation with a view to handing power to Sisep later in the year. However, the Assembly is now pushing for new anti-monopoly legislation to be put in place before Sisep takes control and Telcor fears that any attempts to introduce competition into the market will be quashed by the Assembly through Carrión.