By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff
While declaring that he is tired of complaining about the relatively poor service being provided by telephone companies in the British Virgin Islands, member of the parliamentary opposition Julian Fraser today called for the introduction of mobile number portability in the territory.
Mobile number portability effectively enables persons to keep their mobile phone numbers whenever they change from one network carrier to another.
Fraser, in the House of Assembly today, noted that mobile number portability has been effective in a number of countries, adding that it is time for the British Virgin Islands to stop ignoring a ‘modern’ society’s call for the facility.
“The time is now when the TRC (Telecommunications Regulatory Commission) should mandate that a phone number belongs to the customer and not the carrier (phone company) so that the customer holds the number and walks with it to any carrier he wish. There is a good reason for that.”
“We have to get with the programme. This is something that has been happening in other parts of the world – decades now. We continue to ignore the needs of our people. We continue to ignore what modern societies call for. It got to stop,” added Fraser who once had ministerial responsibility for the telecoms industry.
He outlined the importance of mobile number portability.
“You can’t just cancel your phone or render your service down, because you have used that number for many important things – things that you don’t even remember. And, when people are trying to reach you on matters that are crucial, that’s the reference number that they have.”
Fraser said he wants to hear what the TRC has to say regarding the proposed introduction of mobile number portability in the territory.
“I would like to hear from the TRC as to what they are doing about this, because I am serious. I cannot continue to be coming here [in the House] and listening to my neighbours, listening to the community complaining about their phone service. I am not even talking about the internet, because I got fed up and I went to another carrier…”
“I don’t intend to be coming here time and time talking about something that can be resolved easily – it’s an easy fix. These are things that can be done – should be done, and I implore the minister for communication and works [Mark Vanterpool] to see to the TRC looking into these matters,” added Fraser.
He urged the TRC to be mindful of its responsibility to the public.
“The commission has a very important role to play in our lives and the development of the territory. I am not too sure whether it is that they don’t realize it or they are not being quite effective at it.”
“I know that they (TRC) came along at a time when the carriers were quite entrenched…and steeped into their ways – a monopoly a matter of fact, when the commission came about. So, in order to change habits, it will require some form of muscle. Whether or not the TRC wish to flex its muscle is the question,” Fraser further said.
He raised the issues while he contributed to the debate on a motion successfully moved in the House to extend the appointment of the current TRC Board of Directors headed by businessman Michael Thomas.
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