The Public Utilities Commission was established to license and regulate public utilities and telecommunications in Anguilla. The Commission is a corporate body and came into effect with the enactment of the Public Utilities Act (2003) on 7 April 2004.
The Commission consists of three members appointed by the Governor-in-Council pursuant to s3 of the PUC Act (2003). On 4 May 2004, the following persons were appointed to the Commission: Mr. William Withers as Executive Chairman and Executive Director; Ms. Marilyn Bartlett-Richardson as a member and the Deputy Chairman; and Mr. Leroy Martinez as a member. The Commission convened their initial meeting on 21 May 2004,
The Commission is responsible for the administration of the Telecommunications Act (2003). The Act was passed by the House of Assembly on 27 May 2003 and came into effect on 10 June 2003. The Commission’s obligations are set out in Section 3 of the Telecommunications Act and are as follows:
Functions of the Commission
Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Commission shall—
- advise the Minister on positions and policies relating to telecommunications issues at international, regional and national levels;
- establish or monitor the implementation of national telecommunications standards and ensure compliance therewith;
- implement and enforce the provisions of this Act, the regulations and the Telecommunications Code;
- be responsible, where required, for the economic regulation of licensees and authorisation holders and for ensuring fair competition among licensees and all other operators of telecommunications networks or providers of telecommunications services;
- classify types of services as public telecommunications services, closed user group services, private telecommunications services, value added services, broadcasting services, or any other services;
- determine applications for licences, special licences and frequency authorisations for any of the purposes specified in this Act and shall monitor, enforce and ensure effective compliance therewith;
- determine which telecommunications services should be provided, pursuant to section 19, throughout Anguilla and establish and monitor the funding mechanisms therefore;
- collect all fees and any other charges payable to the Commission under this Act;
- investigate and resolve any dispute relating to interconnection or to the sharing of facilities or utility installations or any other matters arising under this Act, as provided in Part 5 of the Public Utilities Commission Act, 2003;
- investigate and resolve all complaints of harmful interference made to the Commission or of which it has knowledge;
- investigate complaints by users of their failure to obtain redress from providers of public telecommunications services and, where it deems appropriate, operators of telecommunications networks or other providers of telecommunications services, in respect of rates, billings and services provided generally and to facilitate relief where necessary;
- carry out, on its own initiative or at the request of any person, investigations in relation to the conduct of a person as will enable it to determine whether and to what extent any person is engaging in conduct in contravention of this Act;
- establish quality of service indicators, reporting requirements for operators and service providers and otherwise monitor and protect the interests of users of telecommunications services;
- certify and ensuring the testing of telecommunications equipment for compliance with—
- international standards; and
- environmental health and safety standards, including electromagnetic radiation and emissions;
- ensure the systematic development of telecommunications throughout Anguilla;
- issue such guidelines and standards as it deems necessary, from time to time, in the form of and which shall constitute the Telecommunications Code;
- obtain such information from persons as is needed to carry out any of its functions; and
- prepare draft regulations, in accordance with section 51, and the Telecommunications Code to give effect to its functions specified in paragraphs (a) to (q).’
Future Challenges and Opportunities
The recruitment and development of human resources to provide the Commission with sound expert advice on technical, economic and financial matters in order to permit the Commission to fulfill its mandate in an effective and efficient manner is a key priority during the initial years of the Commission’s tenure.
A considerable amount of the financial resources of the Commission will be directed to these tasks during the next several years. During this initial period any required expertise will be retained on a contractual basis in order to provide sound advice and also to provide on-going training to Commission staff. In addition, the Commission will retain Anguilla-based university-level Summer students to augment some of their research and analytical undertakings. The objective of this latter activity is to provide Summer internships to Anguillan university students in their field of study and also to evaluate potential permanent staff for the Commission.
The main challenge in the telecommunications sector is the provision of universal access to information, in particular, via the Internet. An important element of this challenge is the price of such access as well as the quality in terms of speed and reliability. There is a an increasingly direct relationship between overall economic development and an economy’s information infrastructure.
In order to fully participate in the information economy, one of the key challenges for island nations is access to reasonably priced international telecommunications capacity. While in Anguilla the international telecommunications sector has been fully liberalized since 19 January 2005, prices for high-speed capacity remain high and the reliance on a single submarine cable raises reliability and economic pricing issues. In turn, retail prices for high-speed Internet remains substantially above those in larger developed economies. With a more diversified supply, reliability and prices will improve.
The Commission’s current focus is on the telecommunications sector. However, Section 7 of the PUC Act provides for a broader mandate, in particular sub-section 7
(3)(a) which reads as follows:
“(3) Subject to subsection (1), the Commission has the following general functions—
(a) to secure, as far as it is economical to meet them, that all reasonable demands in Anguilla for electricity, telecommunications and piped water are met;”
The intention is to expand the Commission’s jurisdiction to the electric and water sectors in the future. Any such expansion is subject to Government policy and related legislative initiatives.
Public Utilities Commission
Fair Play Commercial Complex, P.O. Box 1400, The Valley, Anguilla, B.W.I.
Tel.: (264)-497-7374 | Fax: (264)-497-2782