ISP boss says new telecoms bill could result huge job losses

4 Jun 2010

The government of Bermuda has drafted two new telecoms bills – the Bermuda Electronic Communications Act 2010 and the Regulatory Authority Act 2010 – which will shortly go before the House of Assembly, but the move has been greeted coolly by one ISP which says it will sound the death knell for smaller operators and cost ‘hundreds of jobs’. The Royal Gazette cites the managing director of local ISP Transact, Jamie Thain, as saying that the legislation is far from ready to be signed into law. Meanwhile, Vicki Coelho, general manager of another ISP, North Rock Communications, reportedly agreed that the bill is not ready to go into the statute book, but declined to comment further on the proposed measures. The new telecoms laws are the fruit of five years’ worth of industry deliberation and consultation, and aim to deregulate the industry, in the process bringing about greater competition and greater investment in new technologies. Under the new legislation the current licensing system would be abolished in favour of a new regime whereby three different licences would be available to dictate which services can be offered by various providers. However Jamie Thain believes the new system could result in smaller companies going to the wall, leaving the way clear for one or two big players to clean up. He argues that in its current guise, the draft legislation is ‘full of uncertainty’, and will create a new regulator with ‘sweeping discretionary powers’. ‘And what is it that they are trying to fix?’ he said. ‘There is already a lot of competition in this small market and Bermuda is one of the few countries where everyone has access to broadband internet … This will cost hundreds of jobs. They say they want to give out licences within 60 days and this will immediately lead to people being laid off.’