New Telecoms Licenses To Reflect Quality Service For Consumers.
Licences given to telecommunications companies to operate in the jurisdictions controlled by the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Company (ECTEL) will be adjusted to reflect a better quality of service to consumers.
This is one of several recommendations coming out of the 33rd Meeting of ECTEL’s Council of Ministers here.
“We would have to see that the licences under which these companies operate would have to be adjusted to incorporate some of the issues that we feel are completely important to our consumers to have a good quality of service at reasonable and affordable rates to help in the quality of life of our citizens,” said Vincent Byron, ECTEL’s Chairman.
This comes as a result of the unwillingness of the parent companies of both FLOW (Columbus Communications International) and LIME (Cable & Wireless) to arrive at an agreement with ECTEL over their merger.
The Council admitted that the many months of negotiations with both companies over the merger had not netted the response they were seeking and that the negotiations ended in a stalemate, however, as a group the matter will be handled by ECTEL via the licences, which are up for renewal pretty soon.
“Those mergers that are taking place are not mergers that are in your interest or in the interest of the consumers in the Eastern Caribbean, they are in the interest of the shareholders of those companies,” Telecommunications Minister, James Fletcher said.
According to him ECTEL was asking some basic things from LIME and Flow such as removing the redundant lines LIME has on electricity poles throughout the country now it has merged with FLOW.
“Those lines should be decommissioned. The poles belong to LUCELEC which has decided the carrying capacity of those poles. LUCELEC has decided that with the number of lines on those poles right now it would not allow anyone else to put more lines on those poles. So if LIME decides not to decommission those lines, or to leave those lines there and do the decommissioning over a period of five years they are in effect blocking out competition. So we said to them to decommission those lines within a short period of time so that should there be another service provider wanting to come in we could provide that infrastructure to the service provider. They chose to give us all kinds of reasons why the decommissioning cannot take place with the very reasonable period of time that we’ve asked,” Fletcher said.
Other requests from ECTEL that were denied by LIME and FLOW was the need to define a cost for entry level broadband and the need for a position on over the top (OTT) providers both of which, Fletcher said were denied by the telecommunications companies.
“The whole position of this meeting is to say loudly and clearly to LIME and FLOW that if you’re operating in our jurisdiction and we ask you for certain basic things, then you have to be able to provide those basic things. And if you don’t then we will have to see what other means there are at our disposal to ensure that our consumers are protected from what we believe is unreasonable behaviour on your part,” Fletcher said.