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Reduction in International Mobile Termination Rates has absolutely no benefit for Jamaica

TUESAY, JUNE 19, 2012, KINGSTON, JAMAICA: Following weeks of thorough review and consultations with both Jamaican and international experts on Constitutional law Digicel filed on Wednesday 13th June 2012 an application at the Supreme Court seeking leave to proceed with a claim for Judicial Review of the OUR’s recent determination on interim mobile termination rates.

In its application, Digicel is challenging that the determination on interim mobile termination rates made by the OUR on 4 June 2012 is unconstitutional and contrary to the common law right of natural justice since, among other things, the OUR has denied Digicel of its rights and legitimate expectation that the OUR adhere to due process and procedural fairness when making determinations.  The OUR have failed in this regard which is the reason for Digicel filing this challenge.

The application was initially heard by Justice Mangatal on 15th June 2012, at which time Digicel requested the Court to grant permission to proceed with its Judicial Review challenge and for the Court to order that there be a stay of the determination pending the outcome of Digicel’s application for a Judicial Review.  In considering the matter, the Court has directed that there be an inter partes hearing on 21st June 2012, at which time the Court will further consider arguments from both Digicel and the OUR on whether to grant a stay of the determination.  Given the significance of the constitutional issues being considered it is expected that the Court will proceed on an expeditious basis.

Richard Fraser, Head of Legal and Regulatory Affairs for Digicel Jamaica, comments; “The unfettered powers granted to the regulator are of extreme concern given that they effectively install the OUR as judge, jury and executioner. The OUR’s action in terms of setting interim mobile termination rates with no regard for due process and procedural fairness, cannot go unchallenged as the medium and long terms effects of actions like these will be detrimental to the telecoms industry and to the wider Jamaican economy.

While Digicel is supportive of constructive change, any reforms introduced in the telecoms sector need to follow due process and to comply with the Constitution of Jamaica. It is paramount that the OUR follow the established consultative processes to which it had thus far adhered when regulating the sector.  The OUR failed to issue any consultation in respect of its determination of interim rates and has materially misguided itself as a consequence.  Further, it is extremely concerning that the first action of the OUR was to reduce International Mobile Termination Rates which has no benefit at all for Jamaica.  This change will be very costly to the country, a view which Digicel, LIME and FLOW are in full agreement as a matter of public record. This move by the OUR will deprive local telecoms operators and the Jamaican economy  of much needed revenues  and will have the impact of lowering investment in  this vibrant sector making job creation even more difficult at this critical time.”


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