Bahamas’ telcos dispute number portability

30 Jun 2011

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and Cable Bahamas are at odds regarding the proposed terms for number portability (NP) on the islands. The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) released proposals for NP back in April 2011, and invited feedback from stakeholders and industry players. BTC, which has a monopoly on the wireless market and a significant share of the fixed line market, has called for NP to be delayed until its wireless monopoly ends, and mobile number portability (MNP) and fixed number portability (FNP) can be introduced simultaneously, thereby reducing costs. The position of the BTC is that introducing FNP early would be too costly, as expenses could only be recouped from fixed line customers. Cable Bahamas, parent company of fixed line operator Indigo Networks, has urged the regulator to begin implementation as soon as possible. The telco warned against the negative reaction from BTC, arguing that ‘the strong incentive that a super-dominant operator has to delay the introduction of competition and the loss of market share’ would require the watchdog to play an active role in driving the process forward. By delaying until the mobile industry is ready, BTC would remain in a dominant position in the fixed line market for five more years:

BTC’s mobile exclusivity will last until April 2014 with MNP needed by 2016 at the very earliest. Stressing the importance of NP in creating a competitive market – especially one in the process of liberalisation – Cable Bahamas requested that an ‘economical and technically feasible mobile solution should be left for discussion at a later time’. Both telcos agreed on the establishment of a number portability working group (NPWG) to identify and implement the best technical solution.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in 2001 Indigo Networks won a 15-year fixed line licence to begin 1 January 2004 to service the islands of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco.