Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Flow continues fight as court clears path for rate cuts

Published:Wednesday | November 8, 2017 | 12:00 AMMcPherse Thompson
Flow Managing Director Stephen Price donned pink gloves to celebrate Pink Day, and support Breast Cancer Awareness Month and those in the fight against the deadly disease in this photo released in October. The Supreme Court has given OUR the go-ahead to start implementing cuts to fixed line termination rates, but Flow continues to appeal the OUR's decision with the telecom tribunal.

Termination rate cuts for fixed line phone calls are now to be implemented over a four-month period starting December 1, this year as the Supreme Court gives the green light to the Office of Utilities Regulation, OUR, to proceed with its decision made on June 7 this year.

On October 31, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment denying both of Cable & Wireless Jamaica's applications for leave to apply for judicial review of the OUR's decision and an interim injunction barring the regulator from implementing the rate cuts until the court adjudicated on the matter. The telecom trades as Flow Jamaica.

The OUR had initially delayed implementation of the rate cuts - which were to be done on a glide path from October 1 to April 1 of next year - until the October 5 hearing of Flow's applications and again delayed it until judgment was handed down on Tuesday, October 31.

The telecom objected to the six-month glide path and had been asking the OUR to extend the period to at least two years. It is not ready to give up the fight.

"Cable & Wireless is continuing its appeal before the Telecommu-nications Appeals Tribunal with respect to the fixed termination rates glide path," Flow's Director of Corporate Communications and Stakeholder Management, Kayon Wallace told Gleaner Business.

Asked if it the telecommunications provider, which trades as Flow Jamaica, will be appealing the Court ruling, Wallace said that "as regards the Court of Appeal, Cable & Wireless is still considering its options."

Based on the court ruling, the OUR, in an addendum to the determination notice on the cost model for fixed termination rates posted on its website on Monday, said the first step of the glide path for the reduction in rates should be applied on December 1, 2017 and the second step on April 1, 2018.

The OUR has given C&WJ 10 working days from November 6, the effective date of the addendum containing the regulator's decision regarding an amendment of the timeline for the implementation of the rate cuts, within which to submit to the Office, a revised reference interconnection offer (RIO) tariff schedule reflecting the determined fixed rates and which accords with the specified implementation dates.

The RIO, which is subject to the approval of the OUR, is issued pursuant to section 32 of the Telecommunications Act and sets out the interconnection rates applicable when persons who are licensed to operate a domestic telecommunications network in Jamaica interconnect with the fixed network of C&WJ.

Under Section 32 of the Telecommunications Act, every dominant carrier shall, and any other carrier may, lodge with the OUR a proposed RIO setting out the terms and conditions upon which other carriers may interconnect with the public network of that dominant or other carrier for the provision of telecommunications services.

The OUR has determined that termination charges for phone calls that connect to the fixed-line network are to be reduced by 70 to 90 per cent, which would lead to cheaper phone calls for subscribers.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com