URCA blocks ‘unfair’ NP proposals

1 Aug 2013

Bahamian telecoms watchdog the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) has blocked a proposal put forward by Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) that would require customers to cover the costs of porting their number to a rival provider as well as a suggestion from Cable Bahamas that the cost of implementing number portability (NP) be distributed based on the quantity of phone numbers allocated to each carrier. Tribune 242 writes that BTC had argued that as the dominant player, its costs for implementing would be higher than that of its rivals. The incumbent had proposed that subscribers porting to another provider be charged by the donor operator to cover the costs of the porting process. The URCA shot down the proposal, however, arguing that the plan would hinder competition, deter price sensitive users from switching providers and thereby ‘directly undermine one of the key benefits of number portability, the regulator went on: ‘URCA believes the imposition of such a charge on customers by the donor operator undermines the economic objectives to promote effective competition and minimise cost, thereby weakening the competitive and switching effects of number portability.’

URCA also blocked Cable Bahamas’ suggestion that the ‘common industry costs’ of implementing NP be shared out based on number allocation, noting that: ‘BTC would contribute a disproportionate share of the common industry system costs given the size of BTC’s fixed and mobile customer base.’ URCA elaborated on its position, explaining that its stance regarding NP was that ‘no single operator or group of subscribers should bear a disproportionate or unfair share of the common industry system costs,’ adding that such a policy ‘ensures … that the business risk associated with the introduction of NP in the Bahamas is equally shared across participating fixed and mobile operators.’

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