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Digicel worried, LIME welcomes telecoms changes

Published:Wednesday | May 2, 2012 | 9:03 AM

Telecommunications company Digicel is raising concern about the government’s move to have the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR), set interim wholesale and retail telecommunications rates.

However, its competitor LIME is welcoming the proposed changes to the Telecoms Act.

The government is pushing to have amendments to the Telecommunications Act, which would enable the new regulation policy, to be established into law by weekend.

The amendments were passed in the House of Representatives yesterday and the Senate will consider the bill later this week.

If passed, the bill will be sent to the governor general for his assent shortly thereafter.

Interconnectivity rates across LIME and Digicel are currently as high as $9.00 and sources close to the discussions say the OUR has proposed that the rates the networks pay each other be lowered to $5.00.

However, last night Digicel said while it was unable to fully comment on the draft bill at this time, it has noted with grave concern the overarching powers which the Government is seeking to grant the OUR.

Digicel is questioning whether the move is necessary and says it could negatively impact the company’s investment in Jamaica.

However in a media release last night, LIME, said the move to amend the law was good news for consumers as providers will now be better able to compete.

Opposition spokesman on telecommunications, Daryl Vaz also said the move to have the OUR set the rates is a positive one which will benefit consumers.

Meanwhile, if amendments to the Telecoms Act are passed, the OUR and the Spectrum Management Authority will be able to impose sanctions for breaches of the act.

Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell said the agencies will be empowered to demand certain information from telecoms licensees.

The legislation will now require mobile companies to share cell towers instead of the current practise of each having their own.

Paulwell said this is aimed at bringing order to the system.

The amendments could also see mobile phone users having the ability to switch networks while retaining their telephone number.

Paulwell said number portability will go a long way in driving consumer choice.