URCA’s decision to refuse Cable Bahamas’ application to increase the rate of the SuperBasic price is extremely disappointing. It is an unbelievable outcome, one that continues to deny a price change to a regulated rate, which was set almost two decades ago. Cable Bahamas believes that its application put forward a complete and a credible case. In fact, URCA confirmed in the September consultation that there were no anti-competitive concerns, that the financial analysis stacked up, and that our benchmarking analysis supported the application. We submitted our application in accordance with the Retail Pricing Regulations promulgated by URCA pursuant to the Communications Act and URCA accepts that the application satisfies the required guidelines. However, URCA has decided to embark on a ‘frolic of its own’ and introduce additional requirements for a price increase.
From our perspective the process with URCA has also been extremely frustrating, despite compelling evidence from Cable Bahamas that the rate increase was below the cumulative rate of inflation. You will recall that Cable Bahamas made the application in December 2011 under the retail price rules applicable to price regulated services. So it has taken almost 15 months to reach this point which speaks volumes about URCA’s priorities and efficiency; a far more expansive set of SMP regulatory proceedings were conducted by URCA within a shorter period of nine months in 2009/2010, and considered a more complex and diverse set of issues involving both of the country’s telecom providers, Cable Bahamas and BTC.
Despite compelling evidence from Cable Bahamas, we are being made to provide service at a price set 18 years ago; a price which by URCA’s own metrics clearly indicates that it is below cost, below the rate of inflation and the allowable rate of return. We believe that URCA has based its refusal on parameters outside the scope and intent of the rules set out by them. It is clear that there needs to be a body to supervise URCA’s discretion. In the absence of the same, URCA has more power than any regulatory or judicial body in the country.
At no stage was Cable Bahamas requested or required by URCA to submit a revised proposal for SuperBasic. Based on past regulatory practices, URCA could have issued a draft decision, and allowed Cable Bahamas a chance to address any concerns. For reasons unknown to us, this avenue was not chosen today. In fact, Cable Bahamas only learnt of URCA’s press conference in the last few hours.
Cable Bahamas will now evaluate the Statement of Results carefully, especially as it follows on the back of another determination on universal service obligations issued just over two weeks ago. We will explore all possible regulatory and legal options available to Cable Bahamas to have this decision challenged.