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Gibraltar: E-Commerce

Telecommunications

In October 2000, the Gibraltar House of Assembly passed the Telecommunications Ordinance 2000, which transposed into Gibraltar law (when read with the corresponding regulations) the relevant telecommunications-related EU directives. In 2001 the House finalised another Ordinance which established the Gibraltar Telecommunications Regulatory Authority; this Authority, together with the relevant minister, has a statutory duty to ensure "fair and effective competition" in the commercial operation of telecommunications networks and the provision of telecom services in, from or through Gibraltar.

The Telecommunications Ordinance did away with the Rock's existing telecommunications monopoly. Previously the local telephony service was operated by Nynex under a government licence (the government owned half the company) and the international link, via the UK by satellite, was run by GibTel which was a joint venture between the Gibraltar government and British Telecom plc. In mid-2000, Nynex sold its 50% share to BT so in practice both telecommunications companies were 50/50 joint ventures between BT and the Gibraltar government. BT's stake was then acquired by Verizon Communications.

GNC and Gibraltar Telecommunications International Limited (Gibtel) were brought into common ownership in 2001, and rebranded as Gibtelecom in 2002. Gibraltar NYNEX Communications Limited (GNC) changed its name to Gibtelecom Limited as from 1 October 2003. Gibtelecom was then a joint venture company owned jointly by Verizon Communications of the USA and the Government of Gibraltar. The Gibtelecom Group comprises Gibraltar Nynex Communications (GNC), Gibraltar Telecommunications International (Gibtel) and GNC's wholly owned Internet services subsidiary company, Gibconnect.

In April 2007, it emerged that Telekom Slovenije had completed its purchase of Verizon Communication's 50% shareholding in Gibtelecom.

The Telekom Slovenije group is the main telecommunications provider in Slovenia, serving a population of 2 million people with fixed line and internet services, together with mobile services through its subsidiary, Mobitel.

Of course, hanging over the future of Gibraltar telecommunications was the Spanish intransigence over freeing up additional phone numbers. While Gibraltar had said for some time that this did not affect capacity as such in terms of bandwidth, and thus might not matter to an operator whose interest was in Gibraltar as an international hub, it surely must have compromised the attractiveness of the Rock as a base for call centres or other intensive telecommunications users, at least to an extent.

However, in September 2006, agreement over a number of outstanding issues relating to Gibraltar was reached between the UK's Minister for Europe, Geoff Hoon, Spanish Foreign Minister Migel Angel Moratinos and Gibraltar's Chief Minister, Peter Caruana.

Areas covered by the agreements included the expanded use of Gibraltar Airport, the full inclusion of Gibraltar in EU air liberalisation measures, recognition by Spain of Gibraltar's '350' international dialling code and unblocking by Spain of Gibraltar mobile telephone roaming in Spain.

 

 

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