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URCA prepares for imminent mobile competition - proposed infrastructure sharing regulations issued
Submitted by Mavis Johnson-Collie   
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 10:44

NASSAU, Bahamas -- The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA), the independent Electronics Communications Sector (ECS) regulator, has released its proposed regulations aimed at facilitating easier entry into the market by new competitors.  According to URCA, one of the most significant barriers to entry in the ECS is the high level of infrastructure costs associated with the deployment of electronic communications networks.

URCA is conscious that with the imminent introduction of mobile competition, there will be an increased need for the construction of facilities by new operators.  In an effort to reduce the need to duplicate all existing facilities, thereby reducing the capital investment required to enter the market, URCA proposes to introduce regulations which will require operators, where possible, to share their facilities.  This initiative supports one of URCA’s key functions of promoting the availability of a wide range of high quality, efficient, cost effective and competitive electronic communications services throughout The Bahamas from those licensees who will be subject to these Regulations.

In addition to the goal of reducing the costs associated with entering the ECS market, URCA must also ensure that electronic communications infrastructures have no adverse impact on the public and therefore URCA strives to maintain a balance between development of the sector and maintenance of public health and safety, and environmental considerations.   

The construction of new towers is likely to have an adverse impact on the skyline and the aesthetic environment. Infrastructure sharing seeks to minimize the need for additional towers in congested areas where space is limited; avoid the duplication of towers in areas where towers already exist and minimize the adverse visual and environmental impact of towers.

URCA believes that infrastructure sharing will serve as a catalyst for faster roll-out of new and innovative services by all operators in an effort to differentiate product offerings to consumers.

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DNA commentary: The way forward on immigration
Submitted by the DNA Party   
Monday, 08 December 2014 15:30

The Democratic National Alliance has always supported the idea of immigration reform in the Bahamas. For too long, there has been an undeniable need for real attention to be paid to the issue of illegal migration and the widespread implications and challenges it has created for our still developing nation.

On November 1, the government launched a set of new immigration policies which it hoped would bring order and clarity to the country’s immigration laws. Unfortunately though, the government’s efforts have been tainted by allegations of widespread abuse and mistreatment of immigrants. In fact, it appears that the government’s efforts to craft a firm and fair immigration policy has instead created a public relations and human rights nightmare for the Bahamas – a precarious position considering our economic dependence on Foreign Investment inflows.

The DNA’s position on immigration has not changed. The laws of the country MUST BE ENFORCED and those found to be acting in contravention of those laws must face the consequences. As a member of the global community however, The Bahamas, like all nations of the world must ensure that any and all efforts to address illegal migration issues do not cause more harm than good. The government must ensure that all of its immigration policies are carried out in a way that is both LEGAL and HUMANE.

In the days following the launch of the new initiatives, countless stories, photos and videos of young children being carted away by immigration officers, separated from their parents and even housed at the detention center have, and continue to paint the exercise in a negative light; drawing harsh criticisms from both inside and outside the country. In response, the government has attempted to bring further clarity to its intentions although so far, public commentary has done little to squelch the growing tensions.

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Bahamas immigration minister's lastest statement branded a farce
Submitted by Paco Nunez   
Monday, 08 December 2014 15:27
GRAND BAHAMA HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION STATEMENT
Fred Smith, QC
President GBHRA  

Mitchell’s immigration statement was a farce

Fred Mitchell’s comments at a press conference on Sunday were not based in reality. He can go on paying lip service to the government’s respect for fundamental rights all he wants; actions speak louder than words.

If the Immigration Department is not conducting indiscriminate raids, but rather ‘evidence based checks’ as he purports them to be, how is it that Rose St Fleur, Charline Frederic and Mark Souffrant were detained? How is it that the young children of Maria Cenatus were held for three days, left hungry and without shelter at the Detention Centre?

These people are all Bahamian citizens; what ‘evidence' could there have possibly been against them? And what about Dahene Nonord? If they have good reason to stop her in the street, then why did they release her back into the population? Why were all of the above-mentioned people released, along with dozens if not hundreds of other who were wrongfully detained?

The answer is simple, as Mitchell full well knows: the claim of evidence based detentions are a fantasy. All the facts point to an indiscriminate net being cast over communities, with illegals sorted from those with status after the fact – a practice which tramples the concept of due process underfoot.
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Cable Bahamas appoints mobile telecommunications leader to board of directors
Monday, 08 December 2014 08:49

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Cable Bahamas Ltd (BISX: CAB) today announced the appointment of Michele M. Merrell to the company's board of directors, taking the board to its full complement.

Ms Merrell brings with her almost 20 years of professional experience in marketing and communications, primarily in the mobile telecommunications and IT solutions industries. She is currently Vice President of Global Marketing & Communications for CSPI & Modcomp Systems & Solutions, a global organisation that develops IT solutions, systems integration services and dense cluster computing systems. She has previously held executive positions with Brightstar Corp., Tyco International, as well as others.

She is the President of Merrell Consulting Group, a global marketing and corporate communications consultancy headquartered in Florida. Ms Merrell's experience and expertise in mobile and wireless communications complements the company as Cable Bahamas bids to secure the second cellular license for The Bahamas in 2015.

Ms Merrell's achievements have earned her numerous awards and recognition over her career for her business acumen and leadership. Recently in 2014, she was the recipient of the Florida Achievement Award. In 2013, she was named by the Diversity Journal as a 'Woman Worth Watching' award recipient. She was also named by the South Florida Business Journal in 2012 as one of their 'Business Women of Influence.'

"It is terrific to welcome Michele to the Board," said Gary Kain, Cable Bahamas Chairman. "She will be a great addition to the Cable Bahamas team."

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Noted QC: ‘We should have the right to vote for our Prime Minister’
Submitted by DP&A   
Monday, 08 December 2014 01:32

Fred Smith, QC, Chairman, Save The Bays and Callenders Grand Bahama Managing Partner, calls for the public’s right to vote for prime minister. NASSAU, Bahamas -- A noted Queen’s Counsel attorney is calling for an overhaul of the political process, saying the time has come for Bahamians to choose their prime minister.

“Under the present system, we have the right to cast one vote, that of our Member of Parliament,” said Fred Smith, QC. “We have absolutely no say in who is prime minister. The party has already chosen its leader through an arcane and archaic process of convention, which is really a big political party with negotiations, and rewarding generals and backbenchers who show allegiance. That’s not reflective of what the public wants or who the public would choose.

“With the leader being chosen by party faithfuls, but not by the public except insofar as electing the most MPs and without checks and balances, that distance between the electorate and the elected leads to unbridled power in the hands of the prime minister who does not have to answer to the people because they never voted for him – or possibly for her – in the first place.”

And that ‘unbridled power,’ he said, leads to even graver consequences.

“You end up with a dictatorship,” said Smith, who introduced the idea of a change in the political process during a near standing room only meeting of the Rotary Club of East Nassau recently and expanded on the subject during a subsequent interview this week.

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