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Caricel, Gov't resume talks on spectrum licence

Friday, February 22, 2019

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THE Court of Appeal has granted an adjournment in the proceedings arising from telecommunications company Caricel's application for interim relief against an order revoking its licence.

The hearing was scheduled to continue in the Court of Appeal on Monday, but in what has been described by Caricel as a “surprising move”, the Government sought and was granted an adjournment of the application for a period of 30 days, to facilitate discussions between the parties.

The matter is scheduled to return to court on March 18, by then it is expected that the parties would have completed their discussions, which will likely involve newly appointed Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams.

Commenting on the new development, Caricel's CEO Lowell Lawrence described the discussions with the Government as a “positive and welcome step”.

“While I cannot yet comment on the nature of the discussions, the reopening of dialogue, at that level, is a move in the right direction,” Lawrence said.

He added that it was a significant development in the company's long battle to retain its licences and continue operating its telecommunications business.

The Court of Appeal, in a ruling handed down on December 17 last year, gave Symbiote Investment Limited, which operates as Caricel, the go-ahead to challenge a decision by the Supreme Court.

This followed a Supreme Court ruling about two weeks prior to that, which rejected Caricel's application for judicial review of a decision by then technology minister, Dr Andrew Wheatley, to revoke the telecommunications licence granted to Symbiote.

The Supreme Court also refused the company's application for leave to challenge the decision before the Court of Appeal. Following that ruling, Attorney General Marlene Malahoo-Forte had announced that the Government would move to complete the process of revoking Caricel's telecommunications licence. But, the company's lawyers took the matter to the Court of Appeal, where they obtained a ruling that stays the minister's revocation order.

Caricel claims the distinction of being the only “Jamaican-owned, facilities-based telecommunications company” and represents an investment of over US$80 million. The company was founded in 2014. In 2016, the Spectrum Management Authority approved its licence for spectrum in the 700MHz band at a price of over US$20 million for a period of 15 years. Since then, the company has been providing Jamaica with LTE advanced network services in the Kingston Metropolitan Area with plans to expand islandwide.


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