Caribbean catch-up: Caricel denies wrongdoing; Bahamian operators slam URCA; Digicel BVI rebuild enters final phase

12 Mar 2018

The management team of Jamaican 4G start-up Caricel has refuted allegations of its ‘delinquency’ in providing information about its proposed new majority shareholder, South African firm Involution Limited. In a statement to the local media, Caricel CEO Lowell Lawrence asserted: ‘All necessary information was provided in a timely manner to the relevant authorities, and we have been more than accommodating of all government bodies seeking clarity on this matter … Shareholders who are approved as fit and proper at the time a licence is granted can become disqualified at a later date and replaced, without affecting the legitimacy of the operations.’ The controversial deal was unveiled in February this year, following negotiations in October 2017.

In the Bahamas, meanwhile, the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and Cable Bahamas are urging the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) to remove wholesale regulation relating to their respective resale broadband offers. The watchdog, in unveiling its review of the Significant Market Power (SMP) obligations imposed on BTC and Cable Bahamas back in 2010, has noted there had been ‘no take-up of these resale broadband offers over the course of the last eight years’. Cable Bahamas – the country’s largest ISP by subscribers – has argued: ‘At a time when URCA should be considering deregulatory approaches in order to stimulate investment and incentivise innovation in the sector, URCA is instead proposing to maintain or increase regulation at unsustainable levels.’

Finally, in the British Virgin Islands, Digicel BVI has confirmed that its network rebuild project has entered its final phase. The deployment, which was necessitated by the back-to-back hurricanes, Irma and Maria, last autumn, has seen the cellco ‘rebuild its network from scratch’. Kevin Gordon, CEO of Digicel BVI, commented: ‘Restoring voice and data coverage quickly with temporary sites was phase one. Phase two included the importation of infrastructure and planning of our new network. We are now nearing the end of phase three, which encompasses future-proofing and rebuilding all of our sites, managing capacity to those sites and then optimising speeds so that our customers can get the best possible experience.’

Bahamas, Jamaica, Virgin Islands (U.K.), Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), Cable Bahamas Limited (CBL, REV), Digicel (BVI), Symbiote Investments (Caricel), Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA)