|Roundup: Claro-Digicel merger, Telefónica-Myriad agreement, Ecuador refund – Regional A Jamaican appeals court has ruled that the Digicel-Claro 2011 merger is in order as it fell within the country’s telecommunications law and not the fair competition act, the Jamaican Observer reported.
Jamaica’s Fair Trading Commission (FTC) had challenged the merger, arguing it would negatively affect consumers, but Digicel filed a counter suit challenging FTC’s jurisdiction in the case.
Swiss company Myriad signed an agreement with Telefónica to offer a co-branded messenger app, msngr, to the Spanish telco’s customers in Latin America.
Revenue generated by the OTT instant messaging service will be shared with the supporting operator, Myriad said in a release.
Operators Claro and Movistar must refund a total of nearly US$54mn to their users in Ecuador due to improper billing as a result of rounding up fees in 1999 and 2000, according to the local telecom regulator.
The operators charged for a full minute even for calls that lasted a few seconds, according to local media reports.
Roundup: Arcep appointment, Chile pay TV, Entel Bolivia centers – Regional Sébastien Soriano has been named head of French regulator Arcep, in replacement of Jean-Ludovic Sciliani, the authority announced in a press release.
Soriano will be in charge of the telecom markets in French territories such as Guyana, Guadeloupe and Martinique. He previously led the mobile market and broadband units of the watchdog.
Chileans watch 2.9 hours a day of pay TV, a 38% increase from 2011, according to a CNTV survey. Over 66% of Chileans now have access to pay TV, the survey found.
Entel Bolivia said it opened 64 telecom community centers in the rural department of Beni during the past year.
Regional manager Fernanda Moreno said 10 centers are operational within indigenous territory of the Isidoro-Sécure national park, while the rest were installed in the municipalities of San Borja, Rurrenabaque, Reyes, Magdalena, Baures and Huacaraje.
Haiti names new prime minister – Haiti
Veteran politician Evans Paul was picked to lead Haiti’s new government in an attempt to defuse protests over the failure to hold legislative elections for the past three years.
On Thursday, Haitian President Michel Martelly chose Paul to replace Laurent Lamothe, who resigned under pressure earlier this month.
A statement from the Haitian presidency said Paul was chosen as a replacement by presidential decree, awaiting confirmation by the legislature.
Opposition parties have organized anti-government protests demanding that Martelly step down, claiming he will rule by decree after the legislature’s term ends on January 12, according to an AFP report.
Cuba to launch Wi-Fi hotspots – report – Cuba Cuba will launch Wi-Fi hotspots and expand public internet access centers in 2015 as part of its plans to gradually open up communications in the communist island nation, Spain’s news service EFE reported, citing local authorities.
Officials from state telco Etecsa were quoted by Cuban daily Juventud Rebelde as saying there were working on projects to grant wireless internet access in public spaces. They also told the daily there would be a significant number of new public internet access centers in the country, according to the EFE report.
The officials said the country currently has 154 public internet access centers, compared to 118 in 2013, when the service was first launched.
Though the Cuban government allows internet access in homes, the high fees are prohibitively expensive for most residents.
In March, the country began allowing citizens to have their e-mail connections accessible via mobile phones. By November, there were some 460,000 users of the service, the report added.
Etecsa has said it plans to make an additional 800,000 mobile lines available, bringing the total in the country to more than 3mn since Raúl Castro’s government lifted the ban on mobile lines in 2008.
There are expectations that the historic announcement of thawing US-Cuba relations will lead to wider access to communications on the island.
Cuba began receiving internet service in 2013 through a connection with Jamaica via submarine cable.
Jamaica commission probes CWC, Columbus merger – Barbados, Jamaica Jamaica’s Fair Trading Commission (FTC) says it is holding a public consultation on the proposed merger of Caribbean telcos Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) and Columbus International.
UK-owned CWC, which operates the LIME brand in the Caribbean, agreed in November to acquire Columbus, which offers Internet and TV via the Flow brand in multiple Caribbean markets. The acquisition is valued at US$3.02bn.
Concerns that that merger will create a monopoly in the Caribbean have prompted probes by various regulators, including Jamaican utilities regulator OUR, whose approval is required.
The Caribbean Telecommunication Union (CTU) and Eastern Caribbean telecom regulation authority Ectel have both said they are investigating the merger.
In a statement, the FTC said it was inviting comments from operators, businesses, consumer groups and any other interested parties to submit their positions.
The FTC said it had recently received an application from the telcos seeking permission to merge the two entities in Barbados.
A statement issued following a special meeting of the Ectel council of ministers noted that, in addition, the regulatory body will also suspend the announcement of a new “price cap plan” until after the completion of the review of the applications by the parties involved, and amend the price cap accordingly.
CWC chief executive, Phil Bentley, has assured the Caribbean governments and regulators that if the company’s acquisition of Columbus International is approved, the enlarged CWC will not negatively impact competition in the cable and broadband markets.
“In the Caribbean countries in which CWC and Columbus overlap – Jamaica, Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenada – we know that we have to work closely with governments and regulators to ensure that our customers benefit and competition is not compromised,” Bentley previously said.
Digicel, CWC’s biggest competitor in the Caribbean, has questioned the merger and said it will review its investment strategy as a result.