At a time when the British Virgin Islands is focused on recovering its hurricane-struck economy, two prominent local attorneys have said poor internet service is retarding the territory’s progress.
Those sentiments came from Queen’s Counsel Gerard Farara, as well as from Colin Riegels, a managing partner of the global offshore law firm, Harneys.
“If you ask me what are the major chokes on the business environment at the moment, it has to be telecommunications,” Riegels said Tuesday evening during the Honestly Speaking with Claude Skelton Cline radio programme.
“The bandwidth speeds that are available are just extremely low for the heavy usage that we require,” he said while also joining in on concerns about the cost of internet service in the BVI.
“We [at Harneys] pay … a scary-high number to make sure we have proper communications to the outside world.”
Farara, in the meantime, concurred that the quality of telecommunication services offered locally is affecting businesses in, and outside the financial services industry, which is the territory’s main revenue-earner.
He said the deep-rooted issue reminds him of another problem that has been long-standing in the territory – sewerage.
“Year after year, after year, we talk about it but we haven’t really addressed it. We haven’t done anything about it. This is a high-tech world, and if you’re going to transform the economy of the British Virgin Islands, telecommunications is the bedrock of such transformation,” said Farara, who is a former Acting High Court judge.
Telecoms providers have till end of 2018 to improve
Minister responsible for telecommunications, Mark Vanterpool told BVI News back in April that local providers have until the end of 2018 to at least start showing signs of improved internet service.
A few short months before that disclosure, the minister had said telecoms providers were given an ultimatum to improve their internet service or risk having government invite other internet providers to operate in the BVI.
This ultimatum had followed a BVI News publication of a UK report that labelled the BVI as having one of the worst and most expensive internet services on the planet.
The main telecoms providers in the BVI are Flow, Digicel, and CCT. Vanterpool said BVI Cable TV is also licenced to provide internet services to the territory. Local telecoms regulations only allow for four providers to operate in the BVI, Vanterpool said.
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