The Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL), the regional regulatory body for Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, has announced that the final Electronic Communications Bill (EC Bill) to replace the Telecommunications Act of 2000 has been approved and been submitted to all five member states for promulgation. The purpose of the EC Bill is to reform the legislation relating to telecommunications in all ECTEL member states by ‘repealing and replacing the Telecommunications Acts with legislation which is broader in scope to encompass electronic communications. The Bill is aimed at allowing a liberalised and non-discriminatory entry into the electronic communications sector and enabling a robust competitive environment in which there is fairness, transparency and accountability on the part of the regulators of the sector.’
In a press release dated 29 November 2019, the regulator noted that under the transition plan, some states aim to endorse the EC Bill in the coming months – subject to their individual parliamentary schedules – upon completion of which, new licences will be issued under the Electronic Communications Act. However, ECTEL points out that in the event of any delays to the promulgation of the EC Bill in any of the five markets beyond March 2020, it ‘will recommend that Individual Licences and Frequency Authorisations be issued under the Telecommunications Act’. Further, during this transitionary period, ECTEL says it will ‘provide further updates to all service providers and other stakeholders on the development of the legislative reform under EC framework’. This new law will be the EC Act (once promulgated and in force) and Regulations made under the EC Act.