Government hoping Court will clear issues surrounding distribution of spectrum

Information Minister Melford Nicholas

The Antigua and Barbuda government is hoping that the High Court will bring about a resolution to the opposition by two foreign-based telecommunication providers to share the island’s spectrum with the state-owned Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA).

The matter began in the High Court here on Thursday, with the government responding to the lawsuit filed by the Irish-owned telecommunications company, Digicel and Flow, formerly known as Cable and Wireless.

The government wants the two foreign companies to share the digital spectrum space equally with APUA and Prime Minister Gaston Browne said they were resisting the move. He insists that his administration would not allow inequality to continue within the industry here.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the weekly Cabinet meeting, Information Minister Melford Nicholas said “it is a matter I think that will be resolved in the interest of all parties.

I believe in inviting the courts to have a look at the whole process may well bring some clarity and some finality to the whole process,” he said, indicating that he was not at liberty to share all the information on the issue with the media.

But he said that the refusal of the companies to share the spectrum has forced the government’s hand.
He said the APUA had over a period of time made it known that ‘their interests were not being best served because they do not have an equitable share of the spectrum.

“Cabinet has deliberated on this matter over a considerable period of time and I think it has got to the point where the rubbers hit the road so to speak. I think the Cabinet made a determination and did authorities me to put certain measures in place whereupon those measures were met with some responses from the operators”.

Nicholas said that the government had taken a policy decision “that the frequency spectrum, which must be utilised by all mobile operates to operate and conduct their businesses ought to be shared equitable”.

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