Jamaican telecoms watchdog the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has been called in to settle an ‘ongoing dispute’ between the nation’s two cellular providers regarding cross-net calls. The Jamaica Observer writes that UK-backed LIME has complained that its customers have experienced difficulties when attempting to call users of its larger rival. LIME claims it has repeatedly attempted to resolve the issue, but Digicel has refused to provide additional circuits. A statement from LIME noted: ‘LIME has indicated to the OUR that in recent months customers have been experiencing severe congestion when they make a call from LIME to Digicel. The effect of this congestion on our customers is difficulty in completing calls to the Digicel network; increased complaints from LIME customers that they are unable to receive calls from Digicel customers; and increase in the number of redials…In order to defend the rights of and value to our customers, LIME has turned to the OUR for its intervention to direct Digicel to co-operate in ensuring such improved interconnection in accordance with its statutory obligations. This will facilitate the Jamaican consumer’s freedom to make cross-network calls.’ Digicel, meanwhile, said that the issue was due to a ‘miscommunication’ and that the matter had been resolved and as such there was ‘no issue for OUR to intervene on.’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Digicel represents more than three quarters of the mobile market, having taken the lead in late 2011 through the controversial acquisition of a third operator, Claro Jamaica. In the wake of the takeover, LIME has faced an uphill battle against Digicel, which has made the most of weaknesses in Jamaica’s regulatory structure to maintain a comfortable lead. Until mid-2012, LIME and Digicel were embroiled in a dispute over mobile termination rates (MTRs), with Digicel paying USD0.01 to LIME to terminate calls on its network whilst LIME paid USD0.07 for the same service. Following repeated complaints from LIME that its larger competitor was abusing its position as a dominant provider, OUR intervened and set a flat MTR – kicking off a price-war between the two cellcos. OUR’s ability to mediate in the matter was only facilitated by an amendment to the Telecommunication Act earlier that year, however.