Caricel still active, despite legal challenges


Caricel still active, despite legal challenges

Senior staff reporter

Friday, January 11, 2019

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Caricel Jamaica says it has continued to provide world-class service to its more than 15,000 clients, despite the significant legal challenges being faced by the company.

In a release yesterday, the company said that the newest additions to its customer base include various schools across the island.

“In defiance of what many would deem insurmountable challenges, Caricel has continued to thrive as a result of one factor in particular — the superior quality of the services it offers,” the release said.

“Caricel's connected LTE Advanced solution is supported by a seamless network of tower-based infrastructure connectivity, that allows for island-wide mobile coverage at speeds that surpass that of 3G and 4G providers currently in the market. This has been enough to continue attracting customers, as well as international investors such as South African tech firm, Involution Ltd, which acquired a majority stake in the company last year,” the release noted.

However, the company admitted that its journey so far has not been entirely positive. In May 2018, it was publicly announced that then minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr Andrew Wheatley, had decided to revoke the telecommunications licenses issued to Symbiote Investments Ltd, Caricel's parent company.

The decision, it was stated, was made on the grounds that “Symbiote knowingly failed to provide information, or evidence, that may have resulted in the refusal to grant the licenses”. It came after an extensive legal battle between the Government and the company.

In December, following official clearance from the Supreme Court, the Government commenced the revocation process. But, the process was halted shortly after, as the court granted a stay of the implementation until after proceedings in the Court of Appeal this month.

Commenting on the company's operations, Caricel CEO Lowell Lawrence noted that, despite all the challenges the company has faced over the years, it has come a long way and continues to expand.

“Caricel is the only truly Jamaican telecommunications company, and it is our mission to provide Jamaicans with first-class services at an affordable price. I truly believe that Caricel has been unfairly treated, and that is why we have and will continue to fight. Jamaicans deserve the same quality of telecoms service available in the developed world, and we remain dedicated to providing that,” Lawrence said.

He said Caricel has the distinction of being the only “Jamaican owned, facilities-based telecommunications company”, and represents an investment of more than US$80 million.

Last December 17, the Court of Appeal handed down a ruling giving Symbiote Investment the go-ahead to challenge the decision by the Supreme Court two weeks earlier, to reject Caricel's application for judicial review of a decision by then energy minister Dr Wheatley to revoke the company's telecommunications licence.

The Supreme Court also refused Symbiote's application for leave to challenge the decision before the Court of Appeal.

Following the ruling, Attorney General Marlene Malahoo-Forte announced that the Government was moving to complete the process of revoking Caricel's telecommunications licence. But lawyers for Symbiote Investment took their case to the Appeal Court, where they obtained a ruling that stayed the order until January 14, when lawyers for the Government and Symbiote are to return to court for a hearing on whether the company's application for leave should be allowed.

Caricel was founded in 2014, and is operated by an executive management team and board of directors that combine decades of local and international knowledge in the fields of wireless technology, finance, IT, network operations, legal, law, regulatory and telecommunications policy, strategy, marketing, media, and banking.

In 2016, the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA) approved the company's licence for spectrum in the 700MHz band at a price of over US$20 million for a period of 15 years. Since then, the company has been serving Jamaicans with its LTE Advanced network services in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA), with plans to expand island-wide.

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