Digicel Jamaica to close Claro network

Digicel Jamaica has confirmed its plans to close the Claro network, which it acquired from América Móvil in December 2011, despite previous commitments to maintain two separate networks.

The Claro network will be closed from March 1 2012, and parts of the Claro network and its spectrum will be integrated into the Digicel network. This is inevitably a decision which will spark controversy in Jamaica. When former Prime Minister Bruce Golding approved the merger of Digicel and Claro last year, it was on the condition that Digicel must continue to operate two separate networks.

This condition was overturned by his successor, Andrew Holness, although the information was only made public last week. Holness claimed he had consulted widely with other service providers, and concluded that: “The deal between Digicel and Claro, if not completed, could have resulted in a virtual pull-out of one of the operators and this would leave the country in a worse position in terms of the competitive nature of the telecoms environment.”

As the dominant service provider, Digicel had to agree to a reduction in the interconnection rate, in order to prevent them becoming even more dominant in the market.

According to Digicel, the closure of the Claro network is being undertaken to achieve “the right efficiencies and economies of scale”. Digicel claims that the new combined network will enable it to offer island-wide 4G services.

“Our acquisition of Claro allows us to use its infrastructure and spectrum to deliver 4G mobile across Jamaica,” said Mark Linehan, CEO of Digicel Jamaica. “Consumers can look forward to the unveiling of a superfast 4G mobile network in the coming months as we complete the integration.” Digicel will be inviting Claro customers to migrate onto the expanded Digicel network.

The Office of Utilities Regulation has committed to examine what, if any, consumer protection can be afforded to Claro customers following the announcement.

Capacity’s Caribbean Directory 2012 provides a comprehensive guide to carriers operating in this competitive marketplace and is now available in our Directories Archive.

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