JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Government has decided to proceed with the granting of a Domestic Mobile Spectrum Licence (DMSL) to Symbiote Investments Limited.
  • The Prime Minister said the decisions were made on the legal advice of the Attorney General and after consultations with the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA), the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and Symbiote.
  • “The main work for my Cabinet was to determine whether the conditions set by the former Cabinet were met, but we did more than that. We carefully considered the matter and took into account the legal advice of the Attorney General,” Mr. Holness said.

The Government has decided to proceed with the granting of a Domestic Mobile Spectrum Licence (DMSL) to Symbiote Investments Limited.

This was disclosed by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, during the sitting of the House of Representatives on September 13.

He noted further that the Government will not revoke the current carrier and service provider licences held by the company, which operates as Caricel.

The Prime Minister said the decisions were made on the legal advice of the Attorney General and after consultations with the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA), the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and Symbiote.

The Office of the Contractor General (OCG) had recommended that the DMSL should not be issued based on investigation into the company and that the licences previously granted be revoked.

The adverse findings were contained in a Special Report tabled in the House in July.

Prime Minister Holness told the House that the findings cited in the OCG report relate to information gathered up to 2009.  He said that the police have advised that the party in question is not the subject of any investigation.

“Non-issuance of the spectrum licence, in the circumstances, would be tantamount to a revocation of the grant of said licence and would be in violation of the principles of natural justice,” he said.

On February 15, 2016, the former Cabinet approved the granting of a DSML or spectrum licence, to Symbiote for a period of 15 years, at the licence’s fee of US$20,833,332.00.

The Prime Minister said this was subject to the following conditions: confirmation from the Financial Investigation Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) that there were no adverse findings from the due diligence exercise; no sale of the licence; and no change of control or owner (directly or indirectly) without the approval of the Government of Jamaica.

“The main work for my Cabinet was to determine whether the conditions set by the former Cabinet were met, but we did more than that.  We carefully considered the matter and took into account the legal advice of the Attorney General,” Mr. Holness said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Holness said the Attorney General has recommended a number of areas for legislative and other actions.

These, he said, include placing a duty on non-natural persons who are applying for telecommunications licences to provide all required and relevant information about their shareholders, directors and other officers.

He noted that there should be the setting of clear standards to determine whether an applicant for a telecommunications licence is fit and proper and placing an ongoing duty on the regulatory authorities to remain satisfied that a telecommunications licensee is fit and proper.

Mr. Holness further said a mechanism should be put in place to enable the relevant authorities to determine which adverse trace finding, where any exists, would result in a failure of the fit and proper test; and a requirement that a person who is the subject of an investigation by the OCG and/or against whom the OCG is about to make an adverse finding be given a hearing in the course of the investigation and/or before the publication of its report.

The Prime Minister said an overall review of the legal and regulatory framework for the telecommunications industry is to be undertaken to correct drafting deficiencies and other weaknesses, to reflect contemporary realities, including the emergence of new technologies and to cover issues such as equipment testing as well as emergency use of spectrum by the security forces.