Government is to have pressing talks with local telecommunications providers and will be engaging the local regulator to finally address the many Internet-related issues plaguing the BVI.
Premier and minister responsible for telecommunication services, Andrew Fahie made that announcement on Monday, May 13.
“I intend to call an urgent meeting with the heads of the telecommunications companies operating in the territory to address what we view as a technological crisis. The meeting with all the relevant stakeholders in the telecommunication industry and the Premier will be sought forthwith,” Fahie said.
Premier Fahie said he believes a modern communication network that is reliable, efficient and inexpensive is fundamental to developing the territory’s economy, which is heavily reliant on tourism and financial services.
He’s also urged the private sector to invest and develop the territory’s communication architecture to assist with providing a better overall service.
“In this regard, we want partners who understand the developmental needs, and who understand that by making communication reliable and affordable, it helps grow the market in which they are operating, ultimately broadening their base in the long term and increasing their profitability,” the Premier said.
Fahie said he believes the BVI will have vastly improved telecommunication services, once stakeholders pool their efforts to tackle the issues.
“We need all hands on deck to confront this challenge and solve the problems for the benefit of our people and the national economy. The cries of our people in this area will not go unheard and unaddressed any longer,” Fahie said while pledging to keep residents informed of the outcome of his meeting with local providers.
Fahie, in the meantime, made reference to previous studies which show that BVI has some of the most expensive internet rates in the world.
“In some cases, taking into consideration exchange rates, our customers are paying four times the cost for the same type of service as in some of the other islands of the region,” Fahie said.
“Adding insult to injury, our people on a regular basis have had to endure regular outages and many reports of consequent poor customer services. My office will inform the local regulatory authorities to look into this matter immediately.”
The main providers are Flow, Digicel, and CCT. And according to the former minister responsible for telecommunications, Mark Vanterpool, BVI Cable TV is also licenced to provide internet services to the territory.
During his tenure as portfolio minister last year, Vanterpool threatened to invite outside Internet providers to do business in the territory if the current telecommunications companies in the local market did not improve their service. Vanterpool did not follow through.
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