BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, March 23, 2017 – Telecommunications giant Cable and Wireless Communications (C&W) says it has been paying a high price in Barbados because of archaic regulations and it has begun a lobby for a major overhaul to create a level playing field in the competitive market.
At issue is a section of the Telecommunications Act which only regulates landline services and requires the company to pay a fee to the Fair Trading Commission that its competitors do not have to pay.
Garfield Sinclair, president of C&W’s Caribbean operation which operates as FLOW, told journalists at a round table meeting yesterday that it was “patently unfair” and should be scrapped.
“And so the regulatory climate that exists today…really only sees that C&W is the entity that is regulated while our competitors are not, and the fixed voice space is regulated where our competitors are not, is making us non-competitive [and is], we believe, patently unfair,” he insisted.
Even more concerning to the C&W official is that the policy remained in place at time when landline business was on its way out – having been overtaken by mobile services.
“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 any more 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.
“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 lamented.
Insisting that it cannot business as usual, the C&W boss revealed that they laid out their position before Senator Darcy Boyce, the minister with responsibility for telecommunication, at talks yesterday and the company was now anticipating action on the matter.
“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 said.
Sinclair reiterated that it was imperative that urgent changes be made, vaguely suggesting that an unnecessary delay could force the company to hold off on major expansion.
“As long as we get a more accommodating regulatory environment that doesn’t single us out for regulation, 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,” he said.