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Digicel concerned about CWC-Columbus merger

Featured Colm Delves, Digicel Group CEO Colm Delves, Digicel Group CEO
Digicel one of the largest competitors of LIME in the Caribbean, says it is concerned over the pending purchase of Columbus International by Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC).

In a press statement, released on Thursday afternoon, the company said Digicel "is naturally concerned about the clear and obvious challenges and potential issues posed by such a proposed move from a regulatory and competition perspective."

The release quotes Digicel Group CEO, Colm Delves, as saying: “We are naturally concerned to ensure that this proposed transaction will not result in an un-level playing field in the Caribbean. We look forward to engaging constructively and responsibly with all relevant agencies and bodies to the fullest extent necessary to ensure that fair and vibrant competition is maintained in the Caribbean region and that the interests of all Caribbean consumers are fully protected.”

Under the terms of the transaction, CWC has agreed a deal to buy Columbus International, a fibre-based telecoms provider backed by cable TV billionaire John Malone, for US$1.85 billion to boost its mobile, fixed line, broadband and TV offer in the Caribbean.

 The telecommunications company said it understood that the proposed acquisition will require significant regulatory approvals from a number of bodies in the region; "including Ministerial approvals, approvals from Regulatory Bodies as well as approvals from certain anti-trust agencies."

Accordingly, it said it expected to be provided with further details of the proposed transaction so as to allow it to make considered submissions to those regulatory bodies.  

Digicel has placed on the table questions about the transaction and the possible implications for telecommunications regulation and competition generally in the region. 

It highlighted several issues which it believes must be addressed: fairness in spectrum allocations, local loop unbundling and price bundling generally.

Digicel is pressing for an opportunity to engage in the approvals process, in light of what, it asserts, is its status as a major telecommunications provider in the Caribbean region.

CWC owns LIME and Columbus International owns FLOW; both subsidiaries are major providers in the Jamaican and Caribbean telecommunications sector.

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