Not right

CWC wants old landline laws scrapped

Communications and entertainment provider Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) is hinting that unless certain “patently unfair” regulations are lifted, it would be forced to give second thoughts to its level of investments here.

CWC is contending that outdated laws governing fixed voice – or landline – business place it at a competitive disadvantage.

And while the president of the company’s Caribbean operations Garfield Sinclair promised that CWC’s local telecommunications firm Flow was in Barbados for the long haul, he said it was important that changes be made to the regulations to better reflect the current market conditions.

Garfield Sinclair

“As long as we get a more accommodating regulatory environment that doesn’t single us out for regulation in the space I believe we will continue to invest in the kinds of areas that are going to advance the prospects for the average Barbadian citizen and help improve the overall Barbadian economy,” Sinclair told the media Wednesday at a roundtable at Flow’s headquarters in Warrens, St Michael.

At issue is the section of the Telecommunications Act which empowers the Fair Trading Commission to charge the company certain fees based on its history as the dominant player in the landline business, fees that its competitors in the mobile sector do not have to pay.

The telecommunications boss said this was happening at a time when the landline business had been declining, not only in Barbados, but the world over.

“What we are saying now is that the regulation needs to recognize the fact that the dominant mode of voice traffic is mobile, that market couldn’t be anymore competitive and that we need not now be the only ones that are subjected to this fixed voice based regulation which was a throwback to the past when fixed voice was the dominant [mode] of voice traffic. But that was decades ago. Today the dominant means of talking and voice is mobile. Yet my mobile competitor is not subjected to the regulatory impediments that we are,” Sinclair explained.

The CWC executive could not immediately say what percentage of the market or of the company’s business was generated through landlines.

He said he met yesterday with Senator Darcy Boyce, the minister with responsibility for telecommunications, and advised him that the current regulation was “anachronistic and needs to be modernized and recognize the fact that now we are in a way more competitive environment”.

“We believe it is patently unfair, and in fairness . . . the minister of telecoms was in full agreement and indeed started the preliminary discussions with his permanent secretary about how we regularize that situation,” he reported.

With the Canadian telecommunications firm, Ozone, preparing to begin operations here, and with Flow’s market share in the television business already taking a hit, Sinclair said his company remained undaunted, and he saw the additional competition as an opportunity to respond even more strongly.

“Competition in and of itself is not a concern, it heightens your need to become more competitive. Clearly Ozone is going to have an impact on the market if they come in and are well run as we are expecting them to be, but it will make us more fit for purpose,” he said.

One area Flow is considering is number portability, which would allow Barbadians to keep their telephone numbers when they switch providers.

Sinclair said this service was already available in the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, and the company was capable of implementing it here, although he said it presented no clear advantage.

“We don’t have an issue with number portability at all. We think the customer should have the choice of network that suits them and be able to switch networks and keep their number. We think it is the purview largely of a postpaid customer,” he said.

“You have a flurry of activity right after the implementation of it where people are switching networks but after a while it basically evens out. So you port out roughly the same number of people you port in at the end of the day,” he added.

4 Responses to Not right

  1. Santini More
    Santini More March 23, 2017 at 7:04 am

    Last year Digicel absorbed the 4.5% VAT increase imposed by Sinkler on cell phones. That short term act helped to blunt the mass outcry from the Barbados public and shielded the Government from criticism. I therefore doubt if C&W are going to get their wish to have a level playing field on the Barbados telecommunication front.

  2. Alex Alleyne March 23, 2017 at 9:04 am

    New CWC man at the helm and wanting to hold BDS to ransom ??????. “It will be forced to give second thoughts to it’s level of investments here”. I AM HEARING A LOT OF “POLITICS” IN THIS STATEMENT”.

  3. jrsmith March 23, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Big yes bajans are the sufferers , when it come to air-wave telecoms we are up against the cartel in the region, thats why barbados is being used as the guinea pig….
    I will bet lots of people never got what they expected from this telecom deal, it plays in it plays out but it back fires……….
    When it comes to big businesses other than hotels and tourism our educated one are lost…………………………………………
    What we want in barbados a new telecom company with they own cell sites and this will give barbados a choice,
    The issue (Cable & Wireless ) is full of it they think their are the only telecom company in the world who could service the

  4. Milli Watt March 23, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    what investment?….STUPSE if not for the signage would not know the company is hereI got to deal with POOR customer service, increased rates, slow connections, dropped calls. IF THAT IS INVESTMENT THEN HE COULD KEEP IT.


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