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Phone rivals clash over long distance

The cell phone war of words continued yesterday, as CellOne and Digicel accused each other of skewing the facts on the law governing offering international long distance service.

In a statement earlier yesterday, CellOne insisted it was playing by the rules when it came to international long distance (ILD), while Digicel was not.

CellOne was responding to Digicel's comments yesterday following the announcement of a new long-distance service for cell phone users, by KeyTech subsidiary Cable Co for CellOne's mobile customers.

Digicel hit back this afternoon, calling CellOne's allegations “patently false” and seeking to “correct” that it was Bermuda largest wireless provider, not CellOne.

In a statement Digicel said, “Digicel notes in particular the allegations made by CellOne that Digicel was not 'playing by the rules'.

“These libellous allegations are simply untrue. In actual fact, CellOne has itself sought to misrepresent and skew the facts so as to obscure the plain reality; which is that yesterday, CellOne began providing the very same service that it has spent the last four months whining incessantly about. These legal gymnastics engaged in by CellOne over the past 24 hours are undoubtedly painful and embarrassing for CellOne, but this does not mean that they ought to resort to making wild and baseless allegations about other operators to cover their own tracks.”

However, in its statement today, CellOne said it had good reason to not yet provide interconnection to its customers so they could get the new Digicel/Transact ILD service.

“Digicel continues to conveniently disregard the facts with regard to the ongoing ILD issue when making statements to the press and the general public,” CellOne said.

CellOne said the service being offered through CellOne was provided by Cable Co, a Class A licensed carrier (as are TBI and Link Bermuda) and as such was permitted to offer ILD to mobile customers.

“On the other hand Digicel's service is provided through Transact, a Class C ISP carrier which until Digicel purchased the company last year had never provided ILD services to mobile customers,” CellOne said. “This is consistent with the operating practices of the Island's other ISPs such as North Rock and Logic who to this day do not and cannot provide ILD to mobile subscribers because of license restrictions.”

CellOne continued: “CellOne's position has remained unchanged since this matter began in October of last year: that since 2004 mobile carriers have been prohibited by the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) to interconnect with Class C ISPs for the provision of long-distance services and furthermore, the DOT has required that mobile carriers can only offer ILD through a Class A carrier such as TBI, Link Bermuda or Cable Co Ltd.

“For the customer this may make little sense, but these have been the rules of the game. When asked by Transact, a Class C ISP, to provide interconnection, CellOne simply replied that it could not do so until it obtained clarification from the DOT.

“Fulfilling the interconnection request would have meant CellOne operating outside of the terms of its own licence and exposing itself to regulatory action from the DOT.

“It was Digicel, not CellOne, who then placed both parties into the courtroom in an attempt to force interconnection. The courts and the Government have yet to confirm that Transact's licence permits them to offer ILD to mobile subscribers, hence the issue is currently before the Telecommunications Commission and CellOne patiently awaits a decision from the Minister responsible for Telecommunications.”

But Digicel said: “One would have to wonder that if what CellOne is now doing is 'playing by the rules' and that if their position has not changed since 2004, why have they waited until February 2012 to launch this service?

“The answer is because where Digicel goes CellOne follows.

“By CellOne's own admission therefore, it would not have started to provide this service unless Digicel showed them the way. CellOne is doing what Digicel started to do four months ago. It is plain and simple. CellOne need to stop muddying the waters and pedalling mistruths. For the avoidance of any doubt, the ILD service provided by Transact was expressly approved by the Department of Telecommunications before Transact ever began offering that service.

“Digicel/Transact went to great lengths over an extended period of consultation to ensure that the Department of Telecommunications fully understood what was being proposed by Digicel and Transact in respect of this International Long Distance service.

“This long distance service was expressly approved and subsequently launched on that basis. That this Digicel/Transact ILD service was expressly approved in advance by the appropriate authorities has never been denied. CellOne was not a party to that process. It is not Digicel, but rather CellOne, who is 'conveniently disregarding the facts'.

“It is worth reminding CellOne of the Ruling delivered by Mr. Justice Kawaley in this matter in October, 2011 when the learned Judge stated: 'The evidence presently before the Court suggests that [Digicel and Transact] have acted with due propriety and sought and obtained the necessary regulatory consents to introduce a lucrative new service which has provoked their competitors' ire'. Indeed, Digicel has continued to provoke CellOne's ire. Digicel's regards CellOne's nonsensical statements seeking to justify the abandoning of their position yesterday as puerile and disingenuous. Digicel would also regard the making of such false statements by CellOne as being ill-advised and wholly improper.”

Digicel added that it was “happy to correct CellOne and remind them of the undisputed facts that it is Digicel, and not CellOne, that is Bermuda's largest wireless network; and this is by any reasonable metric that CellOne would care to use; be it market share; subscriber numbers etc. It is the choices of the people of Bermuda that have formed the largest wireless network. That network is Digicel the only bigger, better, network.”

Digicel and CellOne are in a war of words over long distance services.
WAR OF WORDS

Digicel: 'These legal gymnastics engaged in by CellOne over the past 24 hours are undoubtedly painful and embarrassing for CellOne, but this does not mean that they ought to resort to making wild and baseless allegations about other operators to cover their own tracks.'

CellOne: 'Fulfilling the interconnection request would have meant CellOne operating outside of the terms of its own licence and exposing itself to regulatory action from the DOT. '

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Published February 18, 2012 at 7:00 am (Updated February 17, 2012 at 11:53 pm)

Phone rivals clash over long distance

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