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BTC must amend RAIO, URCA says

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) has published its final determination, imposing obligations on the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) to make changes to its Reference Access and Interconnection Offer (RAIO).

BTC’s next step in the consultation process is to submit the amendments for the RAIO to URCA within 14 calendar days from the published final determination.

URCA and BTC disagreed on the time frame necessary to complete the amendments for the RAIO.

“URCA finds BTC’s 90-day time frame is unnecessary and excessive. This is because of the limited scope of the required changes to BTC’s RAIO and NewCo’s obligation to launch services within three months of its license award (June 30, 2016),” URCA said.

The utilities regulator reviewed the current status quo in light of the liberalization and introduction of competition into the cellular mobile market in The Bahamas by the new cellular mobile license known as NewCo Limited 2015.

“URCA has determined certain key changes that will need to be made to BTC’s RAIO to ensure that the access and/or interconnection services provided by BTC meet the needs of the electronic communications market.

“The introduction of competition into the mobile market will only work if there are seamless and effective communications between all operators in the market, and if the economic conditions under which the competing operators provide services create a level playing field,” said the regulator.

In its final determination, BTC is required to amend its RAIO to include URCA-approved interim mobile termination rates of 2.48 cents per minute for calls originating on NewCo’s cellular mobile network and terminating on BTC’s cellular mobile network and 1.4 cents per message for each short message service (SMS) terminated on BTC’s cellular mobile network.

The rates mentioned would remain in place until URCA has undertaken its comprehensive review of termination rates.

URCA also requires BTC to include details of the service specification and parameters for NewCo and other licensees to interconnect directly to one or more suitable points of interconnection on BTC’s cellular mobile network, and to include provisions to enable NewCo and other licensees to obtain interconnection at one or more discreet points on BTC’s fixed and/or cellular mobile networks, using interconnection transport links based on Internet protocol (IP) supporting session Internet protocol (SIP) technology.

BTC, by the amendment of its RAIO, now has to include service specifications/parameters for termination of domestic and inbound international SMS messages to BTC’s cellular mobile network.

BTC must also submit copies of its amended RAIO (in tracked changes) to URCA and NewCo within 21 calendar days of this determination and provide physical interconnection within 30 calendar days of NewCo’s initial request.

A full interconnection agreement must be completed within 42 calendar days following BTC receiving a valid request from NewCo to negotiate an interconnection agreement.

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