JIS News

The first year of full liberalisation of the telecommunications sector has seen the issuing of 58 international carrier licences and 52 international service provider licences by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR).
The third phase of a liberalisation process, which began in 2000 allowed telecommunications operators to provide international call service to customers without having to go through Cable and Wireless.An international carrier is a network that allows for the transmission of signals worldwide, while an international service provider is the operator who actually supplies the service to customers over a carrier’s network.
Deputy Director General for the OUR, Courtney Jackson told JIS News that of the operators who received licences, 20 have worked out interconnection agreement with Cable and Wireless to provide service. “They can now bring in international calls using their own satellite earth stations and terminate them (i.e. provide a terminal for incoming calls) on a mobile or fixed line network,” the Deputy Director General explained.
He observed however, that this end of the market where operators were bringing in incoming calls from abroad was more attractive to new entrants than providing a service for sending calls out from the island.
Mr Jackson expressed the view that a shift in the focus from the provision of incoming call service to Jamaica to offering more outgoing call service would allow greater competition in international call service and thus lower price.
“Once competition takes place in the origination of calls from Jamaica to foreign destination, particularly in North America, then I am sure that the price will fall below J$10.00 per minute,” he stated.
Other licences that have been issued by the OUR since the liberalisation process started in 2000 include 65 licences for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), seven licences to ISPs to provide cable television service, 51 international voice service providers who resell Cable and Wireless minutes to customers, 28 domestic carriers to provide mobile or fixed services, 38 domestic voice service providers, 10 free zone providers and eight free zone service providers.
Mr. Jackson observed that though many licences had been granted, some operators were yet to provide service to the public. He pointed out however, that the subscriber base for mobile, fixed and Internet services had grown significantly since 2000.
“To the extent that we’ve had our subscribership in Jamaica grow from half a million to now close to 1.5 million new subscribers is an indication of the degree of success we have experienced in Jamaica,” he said.