Digicel deal to drive reform

2 Sep 2011

Jamaica’s prime minister Bruce Golding has made public the conditions handed to Digicel for its acquisition of America Movil’s Jamaican subsidiary, Claro. Contrary to Digicel’s plan to consolidate and integrate the two networks, the government has instructed the combined company to operate and maintain both, including a build-out to meet the 90% coverage requirement of Claro’s licence. These conditions will be monitored and enforced by the Fair Trading Commission, which is also considering further steps to prevent the acquisition having a negative impact on consumers. The issue of encouraging competition within the country’s wireless market has spurred the government into modernising its legislation regarding regulation. According to local news the purchase has brought into sharp focus the need to strengthen the regulatory framework surrounding the telecoms industry in order ‘to bring it in line with contemporary best practices and ensure that the interest of the consumer is held paramount’. Golding has said that it would be necessary to fast-track amendments to the existing Telecommunications Act, and hopes to have the changes ready to be reviewed by Parliament within six weeks.