Case Study Report
This report reviews the electronic communications and broadcasting sector reform that led to the creation of the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
The overall goals of the reform were:
(i) to fully liberalize the electronic communications sector through the introduction of competition in various market segments, including the mobile and cable television services markets; and
(ii) to privatize the state-owned incumbent provider, Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), to attract investment and further develop the electronic communications sector.
The reform process was launched with the passage of two key legal instruments, the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority Act of 2009 (URCA Act) and the Communications Act of 2009. These laws created the regulatory underpinnings for the liberalization and privatization process and established URCA, an independent, multi-sector regulator, initially tasked with overseeing the electronic communications and broadcasting sectors and enforcing competition law in these sectors. Since the laws were passed, all market segments, with the exception of mobile services, have been opened to competition.
Over the past four years, URCA has adopted a series of regulatory decisions designed to protect consumers and create a procompetitive environment. These have included, for example, the licensing of competitive providers in most market segments, the adoption of asymmetric regulations for operators found to have significant market power, including interconnection and access obligations, the adoption of codes of conduct and competition guidelines. In addition, BTC was privatized in 2011, with the sale of 51 per cent to Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC).