Dehring's statement unfortunate; let OUR do its work

Letters to the Editor

Dehring's statement unfortunate; let OUR do its work

Thursday, November 28, 2019

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Dear Editor,

We write in response to a letter to the editor by Chris Dehring, of ReadyNET, published in the Jamaica Observer on November 18, 2019.

While the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) does not normally comment on licence applications before us, we wish to respond to the concern about the status of his company’s application for a telecommunications licence, as his allegations and imputations were made in a public domain and cannot be ignored.

Dehring opines that, “The silence from the Office of Utilities Regulation on the status of our licence application is ominous given recent statements by the minister, which seemed to suggest a focus on asking existing telecommunications providers to improve, rather than introducing new competitors. That would be a mistake.”

1. Responsibility for the granting of licences: Section 4(1) (b) of the Telecommunications Act provides that the OUR receives and processes applications for telecommunications licences and makes recommendations to the minister in relation to the application as the office considers necessary or desirable.

2. OUR’s licensing procedure: The OUR has a documented licensing procedure which stipulates 90 calendar days for the processing of new applications, if all information is received in a timely manner. The procedure includes internal and external verification processes, and requests for additional information from applicants, if necessary. The OUR also conducts a due diligence review, which is a systematic process of enquiry, investigation and assessment (including checks by the relevant security agency) to satisfy itself that an applicant can be recommended for the grant or renewal of a licence to provide utility services. The OUR’s Due Diligence Policy can be found on our website.

The licence application process may take longer when we have to await information from external parties. The facts are that ReadyNET submitted its application on May 10, 2019, and the OUR has been in dialogue with the applicant during the licensing process.

The last submission to the OUR, based on additional information requested, was on September 3, 2019. We are continuing the due diligence process and once this is completed we will send our recommendation to the minister of science energy and technology. The OUR finds Dehring’s statement unfortunate.

He has subtly implied that the OUR is coordinating with the minister to keep out other competitors in the telecommunications market. We wish to completely reject the imputation.

As the regulator of telecommunications services in Jamaica, the OUR has a responsibility to ensure that there is a vibrant and competitive market while safeguarding the interests of customers.

To this end, it also has to ensure that proper procedures are followed so that any recommendation to the minister regarding the grant of a telecommunications licence can withstand scrutiny.

We ask that Dehring allow the OUR to execute this aspect of its mandate without applying unnecessary pressure on the regulator. Elizabeth Bennett Marsh Public Education Specialist Office of Utilities Regulation

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