The moratorium on issuing new Integrated Communications Operating Licences (ICOLs) could be reviewed; new regulations put in place to protect the Island’s internet network if an undersea cable is damaged; and, consumers could be given compensation for outages or failures in service.
Those are just some of the topics being examined in a new wave of consultation by the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda as it releases a preliminary report and seeks further feedback on a wide range of issues affecting the electronic communications sector.
Aaron Smith, the Authority’s Interim Chief Executive, said: “The industry is constantly evolving, and new issues always arise. We are trying to keep abreast of those issues and involve as many people as we can in the shaping of rules and regulations.
“The Preliminary Report examines key issues that are very important for both the industry and the consumer.”
These include a need for new consumer protection measures to address concerns such as unresolved disputes or queries with ICOL holders, quality of service, customer service, billing issues, and terms and conditions of services provided.
“One consumer protection measure that may be considered would be the introduction of regulations requiring service providers to offer compensation at pre-set levels in the event of outages or failures in service,” said Mr. Smith.
“Another possibility might be to require internet service providers that offer email addresses to their customers to offer a free, or low cost, email forwarding service for a limited period to departing customers in order to remove a potential barrier to switching providers.
In addition, the Authority is examining:
•Whether any specific regulations are needed to mitigate the effects of possible damage to submarine cable infrastructure, including simultaneous damage to more than one cable.
•And if there is a need to introduce any new regulations designed to assist with service continuity in the event of an insolvency of any ICOL holder in Bermuda.
Mr. Smith said that damage to submarine cables was a particular area of concern given the limited number of options available for restoring services via alternative routes.
“The Authority is concerned that Bermuda may be vulnerable to a cable cut or, worse, to an event which may cause simultaneous damage to more than one cable. It may be prudent for this reason to introduce regulations designed to ensure that in such an event the operators of submarine cable infrastructure have in place suitable alternative plans.”
Other areas the Authority is looking at are:
•The level and structure of fees which the Authority feels “may be burdensome for smaller operators and potential new entrants”. Specifically, it is seeking feedback on whether to institute a tiered fee structure.
•Whether there is a review of the moratorium on new ICOLS and if the Authority should institute a licence management process where ICOLs that have been terminated for any reason are available for reissuance.
•Whether certain legislation needs reviewing to enable the Authority to enforce compliance with regulations.
“We would like to hear from people about these issues and, as to what measures if any, should be taken. There would be a separate consultation process before any such measures were introduced and implemented,” said Mr. Smith.
The preliminary report is available on the Authority’s website at:
Written comments should be submitted before 5pm on May 15th, 2018.