Confirming its readiness for number portability, the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) granted the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) a certificate of readiness last week, ahead of the December 2 deadline for number portability.
Number portability allows consumers to change their service providers without having to change their telephone numbers. It is one of the basic elements of consumer choice in a competitive telecom market, ensuring that the attachment people feel to their telephone numbers cannot be used as a means of undermining competition.
Welcoming URCA’s efforts to responsibly prepare the market for competition, BTC invested $2.3 million to accomplish the changeover in record breaking time.
“Getting to a state of readiness took much more than a simple flick of a switch. Despite the much hyped delay in the original September deadline, the fact remains, the industry has brought this key consumer benefit to market in just over two years, when the process usually takes up to four years. In one Caribbean country it took six years to port,” said Marlon Johnson, BTC Vice-President of Sales and Marketing.
“We reject any suggestion that we are not fully prepared for competition. Competition is a fact of business, and we are confident that our loyal customer base will always choose the only telephone provider that provides true nationwide coverage to the Bahamas,” said Mr Johnson.
It is no coincidence that number portability will only be available in four islands; Abaco, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and New Providence are the only islands with more than one home phone provider.
“We anticipate this will be so for some time, not because of any effort on our part to block competition. But our competitors do not seem to be fully committed to nationwide coverage. They are the largest player in the Internet market, with the capacity to provide Internet service to the entire Bahamas, and yet they fail to do so. What is worse, as a significant market player they are obligated to do so,” said Mr Johnson.
“They have not met this basic obligation – which is the core of their business – at a time when it is so critical for the entire Bahamas to be connected online. So why should consumers expect their home phone service to be any different; that they would not indiscriminately leave out some islands?” said Mr Johnson.
There is no disputing BTC is the only home phone provider that has the Bahamas fully covered. So much so, competitors hop on to BTC’s network to get their calls connected, even when they have the ability to use their own technology. They sell a service, but they use BTC’s technology to deliver.
“From day one we have demonstrated our commitment to an open market; we will maintain our market position as the largest provider of telephone services in The Bahamas through the pure strength of our product offerings. BTC has the best value for money with the most add-ons at one low price. Our service is on par with our counterparts in the United States; it is nationwide; and it is the most reliable service in times of crisis,” said Mr Johnson.
BTC land lines remain operational during power outages, including those brought on by severe weather, and BTC has proved more reliable when connected with alarm monitoring systems.
As number portability comes on stream, BTC reaffirms its commitment to working with URCA to prepare the industry for competition. It is the responsible thing to do in light of the inevitable liberalization of the market. Number portability is a simple stepping stone to carry the Bahamas forward, and after the roll out his week, BTC will be ready to work with URCA to continue the market transition, as there is much work to do.
The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is the leading telecoms operator in The Bahamas. BTC is jointly owned by Cable & Wireless Communications (51%) and the Government of The Bahamas (49%). Cable & Wireless Communications has both management and Board control.
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