Antigua-based cellcos Flow and Digicel to sue gov’t over spectrum sharing plan

29 May 2019

Antigua and Barbuda’s two largest mobile network operators, Flow and Digicel, are suing the government over the state’s plans to force them to share their mobile spectrum ‘equally’ with another competitor – state-owned fixed and mobile operator Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA). Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who has a track record of falling out with the two foreign-owned companies, said at the weekend that both cellcos are ‘resisting’ the move. The PM wrote to them recently to order them to comply with an edict to share space with APUA in the lower frequency band, which he claims has been placed at a disadvantage in terms of its spectrum holdings. With neither firm yielding, Brown said bullishly: ‘No court can tell us to whom we can license our spectrum, our national asset, so we are allowing for due process, we are allowing for a period of negotiation.’ However, Digicel and Flow have already filed litigation against the government. In the interest of maintaining the peace though, the government intends to ‘extend the period for them to comply by a further three months …. in that case, we expect that in that 90-day period they will cooperate with us because ultimately the spectrum is an asset for the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda.’