Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Digicel vs BVI Telecommunications Regulatory Commission

Legal action that was taken by Digicel against telecommunications regulators of the British Virgin Islands, has been settled 2 weeks ago in favour of the license holder. Digicel's application for a mobile telecommunications license was rejected in February 2007 by the BVI Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, and on April 30 the company filed the application against the TRC in the BVI High Court; the company also once again expressed its interest in entering the BVI market.

Digicel's victory against the BVI government in the BVI High Court means that the Regulatory Commission has to consider the same application of this telecoms operator for providing telecommunications services on the territory.

Digicel claimed that its application to operate a GSM license in the British Virgin Islands had not been addressed in accordance with the Act, which stipulates that each application must be considered on an objective, transparent and non-discriminatory basis. On May 18 it was ruled by the Court that Digicel's application for a Judicial Review into the issuing of licences by the BVI Telecommunications Regulatory Commission succeeds on the reason that the TRC had acted unreasonably.

In the end of April, BVI government gave final approvement of Telecommunications Liberalization Policy, having invited the three currently licensed public suppliers to apply for licenses to operate across fixed line, mobile and cable sectors. By this other applicants were excluded from the process, among them were Digicel and Virgin Live Media.

In the opinion of the BVI government, it was not constitutionally or legally obliged to open the market immediately to full competition. The government also stated that Digicel had no unfettered right to apply for a license.

Justice of the High Court Rita Olivette argued that the Act provides no barriers to applicants wishing to receive license other than meeting the criteria defined by the legislation. Olivette also issued an order requiring the TRC to consider and determine Digicel's application filed on February, and ruled that the TRC must pick up Digicel's costs.

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