The Public Utilities Commission (the PUC) has transitioned to the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) as the regulator for the electronic communications sector in The Bahamas. The Communications Act 2009, which gives URCA full powers of regulation and of oversight of the sector, came into force on 1 September 2009.
This signaled the start of a new regulatory regime. A release from URCA points out that greater competition will be introduced in the electronic communications sector, to the benefit of the economy and of all persons in The Bahamas.
During the transition, URCA was required to act to ensure maximum continuity. For this purpose, the functions and powers previously vested in the Public Utilities Commission and the Television Regulatory Authority were transferred to URCA by law.
Firms and individuals authorised to provide services and to operate networks under the Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Act will be able to apply for a licence under the Communications Act. To facilitate a smooth transition to the new licensing regime as possible, a number of new documents were published and are available at URCA’s [website](http://www.urcabahamas.bs). These include:
* Preliminary Determination covering several Class Operating and Spectrum licences, Exemptions, and Types of Fees
* Individual Operating and Spectrum licences
* Draft Class Operating and Spectrum licences
* Licensing Guidelines
* Fee schedule
* Radio Spectrum Statement (Existing Allocation and Assignment)
* Various forms – Full Details Form and Notice of Objection Form for the transition, and an Application Form for a licence.
The new regime encourages participation by all – the website also provides the opportunity to learn more about the new regime with updates on Competition Policy, Consultation results and determinations and latest news of the regime.
To promote the new regulatory regime and achieve the goal of liberalisation, a package of new legislation was drafted by the Government of the Bahamas and submitted to Parliament for approval in May 2009:
• The Communications Act, 2009
• The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) Act, 2009
• The Utilities Appeal Tribunal (UAT) Act, 2009