An ongoing dispute between BVI Cable TV and the BVI Electricity Corporation (BVIEC) has resulted in the cable company — which has not been operational since the September 2017 hurricanes — having to suspend its network’s redeployment.
BVI Cable said it is unable to resume its operations because the matter against the BVIEC — who it has accused of using “discriminatory” industry practices — is now before the court.
“We have already invested millions and are very close to relaunching our new and improved retail services that will include both broadcast television and high-speed internet. But, an injunction by the court has effectively halted our network deployment,” BVI Cable said in a media statement on Wednesday, Ausust 14.
In explaining the dispute, BVI Cable said, prior to the hurricanes, it and the BVIEC mutually shared utility poles at no cost — a practice that has been described as common in the telecommunications industry.
BVI Cable said the BVIEC has however decided to charge them to use these poles. While noting that it has no issue paying to use these poles, the telecommunications company said the BVIEC is “charging BVI Cable TV a rate far exceeding what another local telecommunications provider is being charged”.
“In the case of pole-sharing, BVIEC is essentially attempting to prescribe different tariffs or methods of charge for the same service in the same area. This is discriminatory, inequitable and ultimately unfair,” BVI Cable TV argued.
The cable company further argued that this contravenes Section 18 of the territory’s Telecommunications Code which expressly states that “every public supplier and public utility must offer to provide and provide access to facilities and utility installations on a non-discriminatory and equitable basis, including with respect to rates, location and other commercial matters”.
Emergency meeting called with Premier
In a bid to resolve the issue, BVI Cable TV said it has requested an emergency meeting with the Premier to implore the government to establish a fixed tariff for pole-sharing.
The company said it also open to seeking intervention from the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission — the overseeing body for telecoms companies in the BVI.
According to Section 27 of the territory’s Telecommunications Act, “where [public suppliers and public utilities] are unable to reach agreement on the rates, terms and conditions for access to any facility or utility installation within a period of thirty days, either or any of them may refer the matter to the Commission and the Commission shall determine such rates, terms and conditions as it considers to be just and reasonable”.
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