Jamaica poised to bolster sector with new legislation

3 May 2012

Jamaica’s lower house has approved amendments to the nation’s telecoms regulation that will give the sector regulator, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) greater powers. The bill is expected to be considered by the upper house later this week before the governor general gives final approval for the alterations to pass into law. According to local press reports, ICT Minister Phillip Paulwell said that following the implementation of the new legislation, customers could expect to see a ‘massive’ drop in call rates, as the OUR flexes its regulatory muscles. Addressing parliament, Paulwell also suggested that the introduction of number portability (NP) was on the cards, saying: ‘It is full time that I should be able, with a number I have had for 25 years, for example, to take it to another provider and say: this is my number and I want service.’

Once again, the rivalry between the nation’s two remaining cellcos came to the fore, as Digicel – which, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, claimed 82% of mobile subscribers at the end of December 2011 following its controversial takeover of Claro Jamaica – expressed its ‘grave concern’ regarding the overarching powers that the government wishes to invest in the OUR. LIME meanwhile, praised the amendments as a move towards a ‘levelling of the playing field.’