BTC fined $102,004 by URCA

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) has been fined more than $100,000 by the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA), after it was found to have breached the protocols relating to mobile number portability (MNP) last November, according to an URCA press release.

BTC was ordered by URCA to pay $51,400 of the $102,004 fine to the customers who were affected by BTC’s breach. Those customers should receive that credit on their mobile accounts today. The balance of the fine was paid to URCA.

“Consumers affected by a regulatory breach by the Bahamas Telecommunications Company can expect to receive a $100 credit applied to their cellular mobile account on December 12, 2018,” the release states.

“Each of the affected subscribers who currently have active services on the Aliv and BTC networks will receive the $100 credit. The affected subscribers whose accounts are credited shall be sent an SMS message advising them of credited funds.”

According to the release, URCA determined that on November 24 and 25, 2017, BTC caused 514 customers seeking to port their mobile numbers over to Aliv’s network to be unnecessarily delayed.

“BTC failed to comply with the requirements of the rules and regulations relating to mobile number portability,” the release notes. 

“The Bahamas Telecommunications Company has paid a fine of $102,004.00, in compliance with an order handed down by the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority, after a comprehensive investigation and determination in which URCA found that BTC had breached the regulations relating to number portability.”

Following the porting incident last year, Chief Aliv Officer Damian Blackburn, in an interview with Guardian Business said: “Obviously you can see 1,000 ported in two days is not a typical normal day. So, we submitted about 1,000 requests to the system for porting. It was clearly going to be one of the biggest days on Friday, and we extended our offers into Saturday because of the disruption on Friday.”

Blackburn said last November that porting had taken “way longer than it should” between Friday and Saturday.

“The sad result on Saturday was that we submitted 443 porting requests and didn’t get hardly any through,” Blackburn added.

Gravette Brown, who was then Chief Aliv Business Developer, said the situation worsened on Saturday. “It was extremely abnormal,” she said.

URCA released a statement on November 24, 2017 saying: “The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) understands that there have been significant and unacceptable delays in the mobile number portability (MNP) service experienced by persons seeking to port mobile numbers during the course of today, November 24, 2017. The fault appears to impact primarily those customers seeking to switch their service provider and port their cellular mobile telephone numbers from Bahamas Telecommunications Company Ltd. (BTC) to Be Aliv Limited (Aliv). URCA is aware of the inconvenience and is taking the necessary measures to further investigate and address this matter expeditiously. URCA will issue a further updates once the situation has been fully resolved.”

One year later, URCA has found BTC culpable for the November 24 and 25 delay in MNP.

URCA’s release yesterday explained that more than 47,000 customers have ported their telephone numbers between BTC and Aliv. The release also explained that MNP “allows a subscriber of mobile telephone services to choose the service provider of their choice, without having to change their telephone number by using the established number porting process”.

URCA said it is committed to ensuring that the operators under its purview comply with the laws and regulations, while protecting the interest of consumers.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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