OECS Agreement to Terminate C&W Monopoly



Editor’s Note:


The OECS Agreement to terminate the Cable & Wireless monopoly is available on the website of the Eastern Communications Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) at:  Website available at http://www.ectel.int/about/Agreement.pdf. 






This agreement to terminate the monopoly of Cable & Wireless (C&W) was made on April 17th, 2001 between (1) The Government Commonwealth of Dominica, (2) The Government of Grenada, (3) The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, (4) The Government of St. Lucia, and (5) The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines [collectively, the “OECS contracting states”] AND (1) Cable & Wireless (West Indies) Limited, (2) Cable & Wireless St. Kitts & Nevis Limited, (3) Cable & Wireless Grenada Limited, (4) Cable & Wireless Caribbean Cellular (St. Lucia) Limited, (5) Cable & Wireless Dominica Limited, (6) Cable & Wireless Cellular (Marketing) Limited, (7) Cable & Wireless Cellular St. Vincent and the Grenadines Limited and (8) Cable & Wireless PLC [collectively, “Cable & Wireless”].  According to paragraph 18, “[t]his agreement shall be governed by and construed, performed and enforced in accordance with the laws of Saint Lucia.”


Historically, Cable & Wireless had exclusive rights to own and operate various telecommunication facilities and provide various telecommunication services in the each of the OECS contracting states.  In an effort to liberalize the telecommunications market and to create a competitive telecommunications environment in the interest of economic and social development of the sub-region, the OECS contracting states each introduced their own Telecommunications Acts & Regulations.  This legislation terminated the exclusive rights enjoyed by Cable & Wireless in each of the OECS states as the new legislation required all telecommunications service providers to obtain non-exclusive licences.


The Termination of theCable & Wireless Monopoly


Paragraph 10 of the Agreement outlines the process by which the OECS contracting states agree to grant Cable & Wireless “new non-exclusive operating licences to provide at least the same networks and services as are currently provided by that operating company or companies before the expiry of any deemed authority under the Telecommunications Acts.”  Pursuant to paragraph 12, Cable & Wireless agreed to relinquish and to waive all claims against the OECS contracting states arising as a result of the introduction of the new legislation and the termination of its exclusive licence agreements in each of the respective jurisdictions.[1]


Schedule 1 to the Agreement sets out a plan for the liberalizaton of the telecommunications markets in the OECS contracting states.  Pursuant to this plan, the transition to competition will occur over two phases.  During the first phase, licences are to be issued for, inter alia, the following:  establishment and operation of a domestic mobile cellular network;  the provision of switched international  telecommunications services to the public on a resale basis;  the establishment and operation of an international VSAT facility;  and the provision of Internet services to the public using the telecommunications network of a licensed network operator.  During the second phase, all remaining restrictions on licences are to be removed.






[1] See paragraph 11 of the Agreement.




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