Premier Goes Soft On Telecom Providers

Melissa Edwards, Senior Journalist | February 13, 2018 7:47 am MST
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Premier Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith has softened government’s stance against the poor internet service provided by the three telecom providers in the Territory--Flow, CCT and Digicel.

Earlier this month, Hon. Mark Vanterpool, Minister of Communications and Works, warned the companies to improve their service or the government will expand the market.

However, days later, Premier Smith said that it was decided years ago that three providers are the ideal amount for the BVI.

Premier Smith also told reporters last week that no decision has been taken to expand the market.

“You would also recall that couple of years ago when we started the process of liberalization it was determined that maybe three was the optimum number,” he told members of the media.

Minister Vanterpool had stated that government is prepared to amend the necessary legislation to allow for other providers to enter the local market. He went as far as to state that he is scheduled to have discussions two companies which are interested in entering the market.

However, Premier Smith said, “I know that there have been discussions with the TRC (Telecommunications Regulatory Commission) to encourage that to happen. The matter of whether we will be opening up to more providers that is not a decision that has been taken.”

The Premier also spoke about the efforts the companies have been following the damage to their networks caused by Hurricane Irma and Maria.

“We know that during the hurricanes telecommunications were all interrupted. Subsequently, they all got to work and try to reestablish as far as they could. They made considerable progress,” he said.

He added, “But there is still a lot of work to be done to reestablish fully the telecommunications sector, so businesses can be able to function more effectively.”

In his comments earlier this month, Hon. Vanterpool said that they have spoken repeatedly to the telecom providers.

“We have been talking for a long time now, for many years with the internet providers, and we were hoping that by now they could have been a lot further on with their investments to give us faster speed and more reliable internet. Unfortunately, that is not happening,” Minister Vanterpool said.

Government has repeatedly reminded that CCT, Flow and Digicel were all granted spectrum awards by the TRC in 2016. The awards gave each service provider the capacity to deliver higher speed internet to residents.
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