After pressure from the United States Government, the Jamaican Government was forced to take action towards cancelling the Telecoms license granted to new Jamaican telecoms company Caricel. Caricel had taken steps to revoke the cancellation of their telecoms license by appealing in court for an injunction, but that injunction has now been denied.
Supreme court judge Leighton Pusey who handed down the ruling said that Symbiote’s applications were premature, and has also denied Symbiote leave to seek judicial review.
“Symbiote Investments Limited operating under the name Caricel is a Jamaican owned and operated mobile network.
Caricel began its life in March 2014 when Symbiote applied for a Carrier and Service Provider licence from the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) in Jamaica. In February 2016, the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (MSTEM) announced that a new mobile network operator licence was being considered by the Jamaican Government. Despite a change in administration between the announcement, on May 5, 2016, it was announced that a new network was approved by the government but it decided to withhold the operator’s name. Finally, on May 20, 2016, it was announced that Symbiote Investments Ltd was the operator that was awarded the licence and it would be operating under the name, Caricel.”
Caricel began its operation in late 2016 with plans to roll out LTE only networks first across the Kingston metropolitan Area. The company had invested over USD $50 Million and had plans to spend another $50 million USD over the next 3 years in hopes of competing with Jamaica’s current network operators Digicel and FLOW.
Shortly after Caricel began operating in Kingston Jamaica, the Jamaican government was contacted by the US government with evidence that one particular associate of Caricel was under a major US federal investigation in relation to drug smuggling, and that they had concerns with other associates of the company. This lead to the Jamaican government taking steps to cancel the telecoms license issued to Caricel and yet another failed telecoms operator in Jamaica.
It’s quite remarkable how fast Caricel’s operations began in Jamaica and were cancelled, shattering the hopes of many who were happy to welcome a third competitor who promised to offer the lowest possible mobile data rates. With a cancelled telecoms licensed and a barred injunction, we can safely say that Caricel’s days are over, at least for now.
Caricel’s quick departure marks yet another failed attempt by a third telecoms company in Jamaica. Much like politics, it seems like we’re destined to have only two network operators that are capable of standing the test, and no decent third competitor.