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Number portability decision today

Two months has passed since URCA announced BTC/Cable Bahamas ‘not ready’ to meet initial deadline
  • Stephen Bereaux.

Guardian Business Editor

Published: Oct 23, 2013

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Close to two months after it initially intended to launch number portability, the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) is now expected to reach a decision on a new deadline for the initiative today.

Stephen Bereaux, director of policy for URCA, said the board of directors will meet today and a new deadline will be released shortly thereafter.

Number portability had been expected to go into effect on September 3, 2013, allowing consumers to change their fixed lined telephone provider without changing their phone number.

Such portability is considered a key step in a fully-liberalized, competitive market as it would reduce the role of this factor, which does not relate to the performance of the provider itself, as a determining factor in a consumer’s decision about whether to stay with their current service provider or move to their competitor.

Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) was blasted by Cable Bahamas, its competitor in the fixed-line service market, when URCA announced it would delay number portability in early September in light of what it said was a “lack of readiness” on behalf of both Cable Bahamas and BTC.  Cable Bahamas entered the fixed line market in November 2011.

David Burrows, Cable Bahamas head of marketing, has described number portability as a “cornerstone” of liberalization and argued the company was “ready”, pointing out it has been four years since fixed line services were liberalized in The Bahamas.

But URCA suggested when it delayed the initiative that “it’s not the case that one (operator) could be ready and another not”.

Yesterday Bereaux told Guardian Business URCA is “just about there” with respect to announcing a new deadline for the operators to be ready for portability.

“We’re hoping to have something to say tomorrow morning, or very shortly.  We are in a position to make a decision.  A document will be published once the board decision is made.”

Asked if URCA intends to conduct another extensive public education and awareness campaign ahead of the new deadline, as it did before the first - ultimately delayed - deadline, Bereaux suggested BTC and Cable Bahamas would now be expected to take the lead on marketing the new initiative.

“What will happen is URCA will do some minor releases on it, but operators will have their own say; it’s more in their hands.”

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