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CALL DIRECT CLOSURE

The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (GRA) on behalf of the Minister for Trade, Industry and Telecommunications confirms that 'Call Direct' closed down their operation on Friday the 8th August 2003.

The GRA is under a duty to regulate and monitor on behalf of the minister for Trade, Industry and Telecommunications, those providing telecommunications services in Gibraltar. It is a separate entity, which is funded directly by the telecommunications service providers as, stated under the European Telecommunications Directives.

'Call Direct' had been operating before the telecommunications Act came into being and duly applied for a licence in June 2001. When it did so, the company was aware that if successful an annual licence fee would be payable, which in its case amounted to approximately 50,000. In applying for a licence, it was giving assurances that it had such financial resources as would be necessary to pay this fee.

In July 2002 the Minister for Trade, Industry and Telecommunications, as licensing authority under the Act, confirmed to 'Call Direct' that he intended to grant them an Individual Licence under the Act. The formalities, terms and conditions needed to be discussed with the GRA. The licence has now been ready for issue for some time but notwithstanding the grant of extensions, time and assistance and guidance so that the company could finalise this process, the company has made it clear that it cannot pay the statutory licence fee of 52,000.

The GRA have made it clear to the company that for it to provide telecommunications services in Gibraltar it must be duly licenced or authorised to do so under the law. Firm action would be taken against any person who purports to provide telecommunications services without licence to do so.

It is in the interest of consumers that telecommunications service providers are properly set-up since it means that the provider has been audited as having the proper procedures, contracts and Codes of Practice in place, to protect consumers, as stated under European Directives.

The GRA had given 'Call Direct' a final deadline of the 25th July 2003 in order that they should regularise their situation. The GRA had also requested that 'Call Direct' should in the event that it could not regularise their situation, write to their customers at least a week before they intended to close down. It appears that 'Call Direct' have not complied with this requirement.

The GRA is aware that customers who pre-paid for the 'Call Direct' service may have monies owing to them. The GRA will do its utmost to protect customers in relation to telecommunications services provided in Gibraltar and is taking legal advice on how best to address this issue. It will then issue a further statement if necessary to advise customers of the company.

12 August 2003



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