Friday, March 23, 2007

Interconnection Agreement Signed by Cable & Wireless and CCT Global Communications

The BVI fixed-line monopolist Cable & Wireless announced on Thursday that it had signed an Interconnection Agreement Memorandum of Understanding with CCT Global Communications, which is now the holder of the only mobile phone services licence in the British Virgin Islands.

Earlier Cable & Wireless and CCT Global Communications argued on the subject concerning the issue of new licences that provided for the liberalization of the BVI telecommunications regime. The Director of CCT said that Cable & Wireless had charged its interconnection rates above its own retail tariffs, and had disrupted CCT's network by testing a wireless communications system over the same frequencies. Chief executive of C&W had denied the accusations of CCT.

Vance Lewis, CEO of Cable & Wireless, commented signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the companies: "Interconnection is a necessary agreement linking two networks for the exchange of traffic. With the signing of this MOU completed, this paves the way to an open and level playing field in the BVI."

He also added that the remaining obstacle is the issuance of unitary licences to provide telecommunications services. After issue of these licences, the only thing to accomplish is the launch of bMobile, Cable & Wireless' mobile service in the Caribbean.

Both companies received the extension of their licences until March 31, 2007. The BVI government announced that it will open the market to competition in 2005. The new licences were expected to be issued by the end of January, when the 40-year monopoly of C&W expired; but the government did not take decision on how many new licences should be issued, so the BVI Telecommunications Regulatory Commission headed by Mr. David Iverson has been forced to give extensions to existing licence holders.

Other applicants for licences included BVI Cable TV, whose license was also extended to March 31, Digicel and Virgin Live Media. David Iverson, CEO of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, has commented: “The number of new licences to be issued is dependent on the Minister’s policy statement, which has not yet been issued. This policy statement is expected in the near future.”

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