Unfavourable terrain and the expensive cost of infrastructure have largely contributed to the cost of internet services in the territory, local telecommunications providers have said.
Marlon Solomon, Corporate Sales Manager of Cable and Wireless Ltd — the parent company of Flow — said the terrain in the BVI is vastly worse than other Caribbean islands as it relates to setting up internet infrastructure.
“If we were in a place like Caymans or a flatter type territory, we would be able to sever the community a lot better with less of an expenditure. Like if the entire territory was in Road Town, I don’t think we would have had a problem,” Soloman said.
“It’s a small place, but this territory requires a lot of infrastructural investment in order to get to some customers. Sadly, we have to recoup the kind of investment that we put in. I’m not trying to say that we are trying to put ourselves first. We are trying to do it as a joint effort where we help the community to rebuild itself,” he added.
“We are not trying to shy away from not serving the customers. But, at the same time, in order to successfully serve you, it will cost some money and as such, we price our products based on that cost,” he said.
CEO of Digicel, Kevin Gordon shared similar sentiments during a subsequent interview with BVI News. He said his company is well aware of what needs to be done and is currently working on rectifying those issues.
“We are always looking to improve the coverage and service in areas where service is either limited or nonexistent by setting up various cell sites in several areas,” Gordon said.
External factors influencing prices from Digicel
According to Gordon, these cell sites are extremely expensive to set up here in the BVI.
“Cell sites go for over $200,000 just to get implemented but that’s a cost that we bear . We understand the constraints of the area that we are working in, we have more hills here than in most islands. I have more cell sites on BVI than I have in Antigua put together and it’s necessary because of the kind of hills and the terrain and it brings some challenges with it,” the Digicel boss explained.
He further said: “It’s a lot more expensive to operate in the BVI than in most territories. For one of my cell sites in BVI, pay for five cell sites in Jamaica or five cell sites in Dominica or five cell sites in Antigua, it’s not the same cost structure and that you cannot change.”
“My rental cost here in the BVI is a lot higher than what we pay in all the other markets; not just for the operations here but also for the cell sites and those are cost that we have to bear up front.”
When BVI News contacted the territory’s third internet provider — CCT, the telecoms company’s CEO Averad Penn declined to comment.
Earlier this month Premier Andrew Fahie said his government will be holding an urgent meeting with local telecommunication providers to address the many issues plaguing the BVI including prices and quality of services.
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