FTC starts investigation into telecommunication companies

The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) is in the process of investigating a number of alleged

anti-competitive practices involving telecommunication companies here.

In its 2013 annual report the FTC said it started a number of investigations into complaints

against Digicel (Barbados), TeleBarbados (now Columbus), and Cable & Wireless (Barbados)

Limited, which trades as LIME (Barbados).

The complaints ranged from refusal to supply to “price squeezing”. The report examined the

period April 2012 to March 31, 2013.

It said in the case of Digicel, Wi-Connect wrote to the FTC alleging that Digicel was refusing

to provide it with the necessary connectivity to deliver two-way messaging mobile subscribers

across the Caribbean. The FTC said it “commenced review of this matter”.

Also on the issue of refusal to supply, Sunbeach Communications Inc. complained that

Columbus had refused to supply wholesale dedicated Internet access to Sunbeach.

“The commission is also investigating this complaint,” said the report.

The FTC said it had requested “relevant information” regarding the merger acquisition of

Karib Cable by Columbus International and was awaiting responses from both parties.

It explained: “[D]uring the month of March 2013 Columbus International indicated that

they were in the process of acquiring controlling interests in Karib Cable. Under the Fair

Competition Act notification of a merger is required if the enterprise by itself or together

with any other enterprise with which it intends to merge controls not less than 40 per cent of

any market.

“However, where companies do not reach that threshold but are operating in markets

in which the merger is likely to have a significant impact on a large number of consumers,

the commission will ask for information to satisfy itself that the merger is not likely to harm

competition, consumers or the Barbados economy”.

Efforts to get an expected date of completion for those investigations were futile. However, it

is anticipated that the outcome of those investigations would be published in the next report.

As it related to consumer complaints against

utility companies for the April 2012 to March

31, 2013 period, there were 38 against LIME

and 13 against the Barbados Light & Power

Company (BL&P). This compared to 43 against

LIME and 22 against BL&P in the previous year.


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