Digicel Jamaica has lost a legal battle in its long-standing court case to ascertain whether the Office of Utilities (OUR) has power to price interconnection rates. The UK based Privy Council dismissed an appeal by the telco against an earlier decision of the Jamaican Court of Appeal. The Privy Council’s decision now confirms that the OUR has the authority to, among other things, determine interconnection rates between competing phone service providers. Digicel has long contended that this should not be the responsibility of the OUR. According to the law lords, regulating interconnection issues is the essence of the OUR’s role as regulator. It says the law imposes on each telephone company a duty to permit other carriers to interconnect with its network. But the Privy Council contends that this duty might not be properly discharged if each carrier is left to set its own charges for interconnection. Equally, it says, in the absence of a regulator’s intervention, the market could be abused by a dominant service provider or by anti-competitive agreements between some service providers.
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