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FTC assessing spectrum allocation effect on telecoms competition

Published:Friday | July 24, 2020 | 12:12 AM

The Fair Trading Commission, FTC, has launched a study into the telecommunications sector at the request of the Spectrum Management Authority, SMA, to assess the level of competition as it relates to spectrum allocation.

The SMA is reviewing its spectrum cap policy, a tool used to drive and safeguard competition in the telecommunications industry.

“This review is to determine whether the policy should continue, be changed or discontinued,” the FTC said. Its assessment is scheduled to be completed in August.

FTC Executive Director David Miller said that at all times the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, which is responsible for the telecommunications sector, is mindful that the system needs to have enough capacity to accommodate at least one new market entrant, in addition to the assignment of spectrum to the current big operators, Digicel Jamaica and Flow Jamaica, as needed.

“We are looking at how the allocation of spectrum affects the telecoms’ competition, because SMA allocates the spectrum based on what they believe should be given to each player,” said Miller.

He explained that the telecoms in operation normally submit a plan of what they want to do, say over the next three years, and based on that, SMA decides how much spectrum to assign the applicant, for which they are charged a fee.

“So that is what we are looking at now,” he said.

The system now operates with a cap, “meaning you can’t have more than ‘x’ amount of spectrum in a particular band,” he told the Financial Gleaner. The FTC is undertaking the study “specifically to inform the SMA on how they price their spectrum and how they allocate their spectrum going forward,” he said.