Government restates regulator reform goals

23 Jan 2013

Technology minister Phillip Paulwell has reiterated the government’s plans to overhaul the regulation of the telecoms sector, the Jamaica Information Service reports. Paulwell confirmed that the government was looking to create a single watchdog for the segment, combining the responsibilities of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), the Spectrum Management Authority and the Broadcasting Commission: ‘We are determined to replace all of that with one body and that will also enable us to put in place more elaborate rules, not so much focusing on pricing issues but other areas that will encourage competition.’ TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that although plans to consolidate the nation’s regulatory bodies first surfaced in 2009, they were brought to the fore by the debacle surrounding Digicel’s takeover of Mexican-backed cellco Claro. Despite opposition from the OUR and the Fair Trade Commission, the deal went ahead in mid-2011 without any pre-conditions, allowing Digicel to increase its hold on the market and making the sector vulnerable to anti-competitive practices.

Paulwell also added that the government was keen to issue a new wireless licence ‘not for voice but for broadband.’ However, the minister stopped short of revealing any details regarding the proposed concession.