By Antigua News Room,
Digicel today offered an explanation of why it sought a court order against the government, saying that it is in a bid to shield its customers “from significant service disruption and a negative impact on coverage.”
Digicel yesterday secured a court order against the Government of Antigua & Barbuda to prevent the state from confiscating any of the 850 MHz spectrum which Digicel has been allocated.
The government wants to share that spectrum with the state-owned APUA to use for its LTE service.
In a statement Digicel said it was “forced into this legal challenge to protect its customers and services from being put in jeopardy on foot of the Government of Antigua & Barbuda’s anti-competitive and protectionist decision handed down to Digicel on 8th May that Digicel be compelled to return a significant portion of its 850 MHz spectrum by 31st May under what the Government misleadingly describes as a move towards “equitable distribution” of the spectrum.”
Is said, the Government’s confiscation of the spectrum to the sole benefit of APUA and the detriment of Digicel’s customers would result in half of Digicel’s customer base experiencing significant mobile service disruption – “not to mention the broader negative impact on emergency services and other essential services like point of sale terminals and home security systems – for a period of at least 18 months, since that is the time it would take Digicel to completely rebuild its network at a cost of at least US$25 million.”
Digicel claims that APUA has almost twice as much spectrum as either of the other two operators in the market – despite having less than 25% market share.
“APUA is hoarding a scarce and valuable resource,” the release stated.
“In any other market, this would be a cause for concern for the regulator, but uniquely in Antigua & Barbuda, APUA is also the Regulator, and hence holds the roles of both “referee and player” allowing for protectionist and anti-competitive behaviour to run amok. In addition, APUA is well able to operate a quality LTE network with the spectrum it already has; a fact Digicel can attest to since it operate its LTE networks to a high standard in a similar spectrum environment in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, as do other operators within the Caribbean region,” the statement added.