New Communications Licences
"I am pleased to announce today (Monday, 24th August) that the Regulatory Authority (RA) has approved three new communications licences, for three companies to operate selected communications services in Bermuda."
The companies and licences are:
- Cable and Wireless Network Services (SubCOL – Submarine Communication Operating Licence);
- Paradise Mobile Limited (ICOL – Integrated Communication Operating Licence); and,
- Wave Bermuda Limited (ICOL – Integrated Communication Operating Licence). Who also trades as Horizon Communications Ltd.
This is welcome news for our economy, as we continue to navigate the financial effects of the coronavirus global pandemic – and provides additional choice to consumers. It also extends our extensive telecommunications system, which connects Bermuda to the world’s financial centers.
Let me explain what each of the granted licences involves.
A SubCOL allows for connection of submarine cable(s) to the network(s) of any ICOL to deliver international connectivity services.
There are currently four international submarine cables linking Bermuda to mainland North America.
An ICOL allows for the establishment, construction and operation of one or more electronic communication network(s) as well as the ability to provide services on an integrated basis in Bermuda.
Currently, Bermuda has issued 19 separate ICOLs for mobile, broadband, fixed voice, subscription television, business connectivity and off-island connectivity – although there has been some consolidation in the electronic communications sector in recent years.
To put this exciting new development into perspective, the existing market consists of 19 ICOLs with 151,909 mobile subscribers representing $269.4 million. The additional 2 new ICOLs will add in access of $20 million in investment which will create jobs.
The PLP government from when it was elected in 2017, stated in our platform for the economy, “...In order for Bermuda to succeed, we need to return the economy to a path of balanced growth that creates Jobs…“
Although the last four months has disrupted that path, this government will remain focused on the economic challenges we face. It is obviously satisfying that these new telecoms operators have remained committed to following through with their investment into the Bermuda Market.
In February 2019, I as Minister with responsibility of Regulatory Affairs approved the RA inviting interested qualified parties to apply for licences. Licences had not been issued since most of the existing licences were created when the Authority was established in 2012. The government made it clear to the Regulator that in order to meet the desired objectives of economic growth, job creation and economic diversification steps needed to be made to further open the telecommunications sector. Additionally there were clearly a number of parties interested in investing in Bermuda and giving them an opportunity to enter the Bermuda market was in the public interest.
We believe that if Bermuda is going to maintain its position as leading Global Financial Center we will need to maintain first class infrastructure, especially in the rapidly changing area of global telecommunications. We would also need to open up to additional entrants to bring innovation, jobs, and additional competition. Bermuda must also maintain an environment of innovation and diversification as technology further and further governs the success of business, market and communities.
It will also be of positive news that one of the new licence holders, principally operated by a Bermudian, will also benefit from support the Bermuda Infrastructure Fund
This is in keeping with our promise to create an environment were, as stated in our 2017 platform, “…Bermudian business can thrive, opportunities for Bermudians can be created, and capable, qualified Bermudians can earn opportunities to work, train and succeed at every level…”
The government is pleased to see its support for the Bermuda Infrastructure Fund is benefitting a Bermudian’s aspiration to enter this market. It is our hope that further developments like this will continue.
Before I close – I am also aware of the discussion in the community regarding the mobile technology known as 5G.
The RA has announced today that there will be an opportunity for the public to have their say – before any decision is made – regarding the potential future deployment of 5G infrastructure in Bermuda.
There has clearly been a lot of public concern raised about the deployment of what is known as 5G technology in Bermuda. I wish to reiterate that there is NO PERMISSION by any licence holder to deploy 5G in Bermuda.
With government support the RA will mandate a temporary moratorium on the deployment of 5G for all ICOL and COL holders, pending the completion of a Radio Frequency Study and issuance of final determination. The Radio Frequency Study will include an opportunity for the public to provide their input to the RA prior to any final decisions or a final determination is issued.
I would encourage input from all sectors of the community on this topic, to assist the RA in coming to a final determination.