Cable and Wireless Bermuda to get new name as telecoms reform looms
Cable and Wireless Bermuda is set next month to announce a new name for the 121-year-old company and new products that fall within its exisiting licence.
The company, like other telecoms providers, is gearing up for long awaited regulatory reform expected to shake up the industry and finally allow the public one-stop-shopping for phone, cable and Internet in Bermuda.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Energy, Telecommunications and E-Commerce (METEC) said Government continues to move forward with the proposed overhaul.
METEC said the much anticipated legislation could finally be introduced in the coming session of Parliament.
“As a result of past consultations with the (telecoms) industry the Ministry has taken steps to incorporate a number of respondents' consultations in the reform document,” METEC said.
“Once the redrafting is completed as a final draft they will be tabled, and the industry will be fully informed. The Ministry is fully committed to introduce these Bills in the November Session subject to Cabinet approval.”
The renamed and rebranded Cable and Wireless Bermuda is expected to be one of the largest players in a field that industry insiders said would likely ultimately come to be made up of three or possibly four major providers of multiple services (Internet, cable/TV, land line, even cell phone), with larger, more significant players taking over some of the smaller players.
Cable and Wireless was acquired in a $70 millon deal by the Bragg Group, which operates as EastLink in Canada, bundling cable, Internet and telephone services.
“We look forward to a level playing field for all participants in this sector,” Cable and Wireless Bermuda Holdings CEO Ann Petley-Jones told
The Royal Gazette.
“We have always been and continue to support the regulatory reform process. We see it as very beneficial to Bermuda and it should spur further infrastructure investment.”
She said the company had been hiring in Bermuda in anticipation of the transition and will be rolling out new products that fall within its current licence along with new branding.
She added the company sees “implementing local number portability as a critical item” of the reform process. New fees were another major concern of the industry
(see separate story).
The proposed overhaul aims to abandon the different telecoms licence categories, so all providers would be able to offer all services and thus compete with each other.
The larger providers could offer what are known as “bundled” or “triple play” services including cable, phone and Internet.
CellOne has said it would be looking to get into the long distance market as well as other new areas.
Meanwhile, TeleBermuda International has suggested it would like to enter the residential Internet market.
And North Rock Communications, currently restricted to offering internet services, has said it may launch internet-based mobile phone services.
Currently in what is a complex process, local residents must contract with several providers for their telecoms services.
METEC has expressed concern that restrictions on services that can be provided by individual providers as well as the small size of the customer base in Bermuda “may mean that some providers do not make investments in advanced technology, or it may mean that those who do make the investments will need to charge higher prices”.
Telecoms providers in Bermuda have been busy preparing for the overhaul over the past several months, by expanding, announcing mergers, opening new retail locations, and launching colourful new branding and marketing campaigns.