Digicel Jamaica to shut down Claro network

Digicel Jamaica to shut down Claro network

Digicel Jamaica has begun the termination of the Claro network.

The move will come as a blow to large groups of consumers, who are unable to switch to a different network with their handsets. Local sources claim that several mobile phone types are technically incompatible for migration as the Claro network operates on a different frequency.

Claro customers have been invited to migrate to other networks over the past few months, with the migration period recently extended from February 29 to March 9.

Digicel had originally been instructed to operate Claro’s network separately from its own as a condition of the merger, imposed by Jamaica’s former Prime Minister, Bruce Golding. When Golding was succeeded by Andrew Holness, the condition was removed after a period of consultation with other service providers.

Commenting on the change of stance, Maurice Chavis, deputy director general of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) said: “Following a change of ministers, the previous ruling was overturned. The only explanation given was that it was not practical.”

A Digicel spokesperson denied that any conditions had been placed on the deal. “To be clear, the Telecoms Act in Jamaica does not permit the minister with responsibility for telecoms to impose any conditions on the approval of the deal. Indeed, any imposing of conditions would in fact be unlawful.”

Concern has been mounting that the merger will eliminate competition in the country. Digicel’s rival, LIME, has been opposed to the deal since its inception and filed an unsuccessful lawsuit in September to prevent it. Gary Sinclair, MD of LIME Jamaica & Cayman said “The Digicel/Claro deal could literally kill competition in Jamaica’s telecoms market.”

Before the merger, Digicel had an estimated 57.2% mobile subscriber share in the country, LIME had 23% and Claro 19.8%.

Claro Jamaica was first acquired by Digicel in December 2011 as part of an exchange of assets with Claro’s parent company América Móvil.

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