The Regulatory Authority of Bermuda (RAB) is acting to clamp down on unregulated IPTV providers in the country, instructing them to cease and desist the provision of such services until they have secured the requisite authorisations. The RAB is warning consumers not to sign up for what might appear attractive low-cost unlicensed services delivered over the internet, rather than via fixed, satellite or cable broadband networks. If prosecuted, unregulated IPTV providers could be fined up to 10% of their total annual turnover, it says, while warning that the perpetrators could face imprisonment and a fine of BMD50,000 (USD50,000), with a further BMD25,000 fine each day any contravention continues. The Royal Gazette reports the watchdog as saying it ‘strongly recommends’ that a subscription is only taken out with one of the locally regulated IPTV providers – Digicel, Fort Knox Bermuda (FKB, LiveNet Bermuda), One Communications, World On Wireless (WOW) and Bluewave Internet.
The regulator is taking steps after receiving complaints from two licensed operators – One Communications and WOW – which have raised concerns over the impact of unlicensed IPTV providers on their businesses. OneComm has expressed its fears ‘about the continued impact of unlicensed providers of subscription TV on its business and on the integrity of the process and calls upon the RAB to take action to enforce the statutory licensing requirements against these illegal providers,’ while WOW noted the fresh challenges it faces ‘dealing with the effect of unlicensed subscription TV services being provided illegally in Bermuda,’ which is undermining those providing the service legally. The RAB recognises the problem but says that resolving it is not straightforward. ‘The majority of these providers have no physical or legal presence in Bermuda, which will require consideration of enforcement issues. The RAB also plans to develop ways to raise awareness of this issue on the part of users and potential users of unlicensed services,’ it said.