URCA clarifies USO legislation

24 Jan 2013

Bahamian telecoms regulator the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) has issued a final decision on the clarification and implementation of Universal Service Obligations (USOs) as provided for by the Communications Act 2009, ending a consultation process launched in March 2012. The ruling is chiefly concerned with explaining certain definitions, and addressing the concerns of the two Universal Service Providers (USPs) Cable Bahamas Ltd (CBL) and Bahamas Telecommunication Company (BTC). For example, the decision specified which types of institutions to which the USPs were obliged to provide USO services for free, namely: public and church operated schools, public libraries, public hospitals and medical clinics, senior citizens homes and orphanages.

URCA also announced that it was was involved in developing industry guidelines for the calculation of the net avoidable costs of universal services, and also aims to create a universal service fund (USF) and establish operating procedures for a universal service compensation fund. Further, URCA is assessing the level of compliance from USPs with existing obligations.

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