The Telecommunications Act (2001) covers licences in a number of areas but is in need of modernisation. While the Telecommunications Unit is the executing department it reports to the Ministry of Finance and it is the Minister who decides on the award of licences. The Telecommunications Unit has a wealth of information with regard to licences, conditions, cost and a list of policies that have been approved. This information as well as some data on the Telecommunications sector can be found at www.telecoms.gov.bb. Enquiries may be directed to (246) 310-2251.
There is no specific legislation related to ICT which falls under the ambit of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. A draft policy on ICT was due for completion but no firm date was available.
When it comes to legislation related to competition and the regulatory rules on pricing of certain services this falls to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Commerce with the regulatory body, the Fair Trading Commission (FTC), being the executing agency. Rules and regulations as well as various legislation related to the Fair Trading Commission (FTC), competition and regulation, including the Utilities Regulation Act (URA) may be found at the Commission’s website – www.ftc.gov.bb. This website provides a wealth of information, including past decisions and current consultations. It would be seen therefore that there are essentially two regulators, the quasi-autonomous Fair Trading Commission and the Ministry of Finance which is advised by the Telecommunications Unit.
There is no legislation governing cellular services, where open competition is in place in the form of a duopoly comprising Irish company Digicel and LIME (newly branded from Cable & Wireless). Customer Premises Equipment has been liberalised for several years and the Internet is by and large un-regulated but with licencing related to Internet Service Providers and Internet Cafes. Services such as Skype are not regulated as is the case in some other Caribbean countries.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Commerce takes a close interest in some pricing matters and consumer affairs and there are rules and regulations on what is considered fair competition and arbitration of disputes related to goods and services. Adjudication and determination of fair competition issues are shared between the Fair Trading Commission and the Office of Public Council, a state-run department which falls under the Ministry of Commerce, which also has an arbitration tribunal to deal with certain consumer claims. The Ministry’s website has a link to several items of legislation which relate to ICT and Telecommunications, for example theÂ Computer Misuse Act and the Electronic Transactions Act. These more recent Acts are intended to support the enhancement of e-Commerce. Online and computer-related fraud, the legality of digital signatures and acceptance of electronic documents with the same legal standing as hard copy documents are some of the issues these pieces of legislation are designed to address.