CABLE BAHAMAS AWARDED CELLULAR LICENCE AMID MANY FLAWS

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2053

Over-riding question remains to be answered by URCA? Could Digicel be walking through the backdoor of Cable set to crush the local staff?

Digicel chairman Denis O’Brien: will have received nearly all of the dividend of $10 million paid by the company in the first quarter. Photograph: Swoan Parker/Reuters
Digicel chairman Denis O’Brien: will have received nearly all of the dividend of $10 million paid by the company in the first quarter. Photograph: Swoan Parker/Reuters

Cable Bahamas Limited has been awarded the second mobile cellular license in the country amid a litany of flaws as a cable television provider which has left thousands of Bahamians throughout the archipelago without the service since 1995.

To date, the company has failed to live up to its contractual obligations with the Government to ensure that cable service was delivered to every island of the Bahamas. For the past twenty-plus years, Cable Bahamas has blatantly refused to deliver its service to many communities of 14 Family Islands because they are deemed to be too far removed from the closest nodes in addition to not being financially rewarding for the company. The service has never been provided in some settlements, towns and subdivisions on islands like Andros, Bimini, Eleuthera, Cat Island, Long Island, Exuma and Inagua.

But despite the many glaring shortcomings in their operations, the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority has announced that the Government has approved the granting of the second mobile telephone license to Cable Bahamas Limited, under the name of NewCo2015 Limited. Cable Bahamas emerged as the successful applicant for the new cellular mobile network with a 48.25% shareholding in NewCo2015. A special purpose holding company set up and wholly owned by the Government of the Bahamas, HoldingCo2015 Limited, will own the remaining 51.75% of the shares of NewCo2015.

But the over-riding question remains to be answered by URCA? Where does the awarding of rights, privileges and concessions to the new cellular mobile service provider leave the Bahamas Telecommunications Company Limited? Who has been prepared to face the inevitability of the oncoming competition in the cellular mobile services, it is unheard of that a longstanding company should be called upon to share its infrastructure with an upstart competitor. Who has no history of capital investment in the people of the Bahamas. Failed to meeting its obligation in providing cable tv service to 90% of the Bahamas.To be more specific they have only provided services in 4 major islands over the past 20 years while using BTC’s infrastructure (towers) to provide limited services to 14 small family island communities. They also have a history of illegally obtaining signals from another broadcasting corporation in the Bahamas.

Are they are a real mobile service provider? Where is the infrastructural investment for mobile services in the Bahamas from them? They will benefit from number portability roaming, tower sharing.Practically piggy backing off BTC’s infrastructure without investing no where close in capital investment as their host had previously done. To be unfairly treated by URCA, the regulating agency in this manner is unfortunate and disappointing to many. But that is what BTC has been mandated to do as a result of the terms and conditions negotiated between Cable Bahamas and the Utilities and Regulation Authority, for the second cellular mobile service operator to enter the communications industry in the Bahamas.

Competition is the pinnacle of what makes us what we are. Is it applicable to say that competition, although good for consumers, also has its negative aspects as well? There are many challenges that businesses face due to competition within business, and this will be another example that will demonstrate not only the resolve but the commitment to excellence by BTC, notwithstanding the precarious predicament they are now face with as a second mobile cellular license provider enters the industry.

Signed,

Derek Johnson