BTC fined for blocking competitors

31 Jul 2014

Bahamian watchdog the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) has issued fixed line incumbent and wireless monopoly holder Bahamas Telecommunication Company (BTC) with an order instructing the operator to cease certain anti-competitive practices. URCA launched an investigation following complaints from Systems Resource Group (SRG, now part of Cable Bahamas Ltd [CBL]) that BTC had signed executive supply agreements with wholesalers preventing the latter from selling SRG’s ‘IndiGO’ calling cards, preventing SRG from distributing its calling cards through certain wholesalers since March 2012. URCA’s probe found that BTC’s agreements were in violation of sections 67 and 69 of the Communications Act, as they prevent, restrict and distort competition ‘such that it appreciably affects trade within the Bahamas.’ Further, the regulator ruled that the telco’s measures amounted to an abuse of the operator’s dominant position.

URCA’s order instructs BTC to immediately cease any ‘conduct or behaviour denying future market access to potential competitors in the relevant market for two stage LD [long distance] calling cards by executing or renewing any Master Distributors Agreement[s]… which include [the] violating provisions.’ BTC must amend its distributors agreements and submit them to the watchdog within 14 days for approval. Finally, BTC must also pay a fine, the value of which was not given by URCA in its press release but reportedly totalled BSD243,442 (USD242,441) according to the Bahama Journal.