BVI News

Local attorneys: Poor internet choking BVI business env’t

Local attorneys Colin Reigels (left) and Gerard Farara.

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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36 Comments

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  1. Laura says:

    For several years there has been a consistent push for more competition in the BVI within the telecoms sector, but it is still plagued with poor quality telecoms service.

    BVI fails to realize that technology must be a fundamental entity that links/bridges the gap between all areas/sectors of the island (be it Tourism, yachting, financial, hospital and the like). Internet connectivity is undoubtedly a crucial requirement for the growth of the country on all levels.

    The government is clearly not aware that telecom usage is changing not only the way people communicate but also the way in which they do business, and connect with people around the world. Improved mobile and broadband access is one of the most fundamental enablers of private sector growth and job creation, especially in emerging markets. It creates business opportunities and impacts people’s lives.

    The BVI needs to step up to the mark and fix this problem, it has gone on for far too long. Many regions have moved on to faster and better emerging opportunities, we are still lagging behind.#wakeupBVI

    Like 21
    Dislike 2
    • Rubber Duck says:

      The government should adopt the 50/50 target

      50 mbps for $50 per month.

      This is achieved in other Cable and Wireless territories.

      There is no reason other than greed that it cannot be achieved here.

      Like 34
      Dislike 1
      • true says:

        It cannot be achieved when the above companies pay very large amounts to steal away all the top speeds. For years very high speeds and bandwidth has been available but only if your paying thousands of dollars a month, this is why the normal person struggles while the rich fly and now the same for work permits!

        Like 3
        Dislike 6
        • @True says:

          Do poor people hire people? What’s with all the rich talk? What if you some day open a business and become ‘rich’ then what? This has nothing to do with rich or poor as neither should have to pay exorbitant rates for proper functioning internet in a so called ‘rich’ place like the BVI. This affects us all whether have or have not if you want to put it that way, as it doesn’t matter how much speed you’re paying for, what matters is whether the s**t works and works consistently! It is killing business!

          Like 21
          • HRMPH says:

            Why would the telephone companies drop the rates and increase the spped when HWR are prepared to pay $10k per month!!! That is the same as 200 customers at $50 per month.

        • CW says:

          BAHAHA OMG that’s sad but also hilarious. Steal away top speeds? ???????????????? That isn’t how internet works at all lol. What’s your next joke? ????????

      • Theo says:

        “No reason” you say. How about people who like to control others to squeeze their very last dime out of them?

      • We need fibre says:

        first we need the infrastructure!!! no private company will lay down the fibre cables, including connection points without having express right to run the services so they can recoup costs or make a profit…maybe government can subsidize this as well or nationalize the built and then lease it out…that way everyone will pay what they need to pay for a decent service.

  2. Superman says:

    The irony is we have a Global fiber optic line running though our islands but our leaders have refused to allow a competitor to tap into it. This super high speed line could easily provide the same or faster speeds than our neighboring islands receive. There needs to be an investigation into this. Has someone received a kickback for preventing competition? Not only is our service slow it is grotesquely expensive and broken much of the time. Is someone filling their pockets while we are waiting for pages to load?

    Like 37
    Dislike 1
  3. Pain Point says:

    Many professionals are waiting to move home, but not without a proper internet infrastructure.

    Like 24
    Dislike 1
  4. BuzzBvi says:

    Remarks By Minister For Communications And Works, Honourable Mark Vanterpool, At The Official Opening Ceremony Of Tortola Pier Park

    I am pleased to be a Member of the Government, led by Premier Dr. D. Orlando Smith, who will go down, firmly, in the annals of the history of the Virgin Islands, for being, by far, the leader of Government, that made the largest capital investment ever, for projects, that would benefit this Territory for a long time, in all areas.

    Ladies and gentlemen, when this chapter of the history books are written, historians will write, that Dr. D. Orlando Smith’s Government, invested in excess of $600 million, in his three Terms of Office, as follows:

    1. Approximately $200 million on Airports Development;

    2. $150 million in Health, with a new state-of-the-art hospital in Road Town, Tortola; a new mini hospital in Virgin Gorda; and upgrades to clinics in Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, East End and Carrot Bay;

    3. Approximately $100 million in Sea Ports Development;

    4. $50 million in new Roads Infrastructural Development;

    5. $50 million in Electricity and Renewable Energy Development;

    6. $25 million in Sewerage and Water Works;

    7. $10 million in Schools; and

    8. $5 for City Development.

    On top of that, ladies and gentlemen, Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. D. Orlando Smith, must not be afraid to toot his horn and declare, that his Government invested $600 million in the Territory’s growth and development.

    On top of that, at the end of his term, three years from now, he is intending to leave $100 million in the Government’s reserves for a rainy day, $50 million of which is already there.

    Now tell me ladies and gentlemen, what is it to say about that?!

    Like 6
    Dislike 3
    • islander says:

      and without much to show for it, look at the place we didn’t get value for money the ndp has failed

      Like 10
    • Mark Twain says:

      Imagine if people been filling their own pockets with all our money that’s been spent. Where is the audit? Why has this been delayed over the past several years? We need more transparency and accountability. We need leaders we can trust.

      Like 11
  5. Bidder says:

    Yes the internet is bad for business. You know how many times I lost out on bids on eBay from quicker bidders. SMH

    Like 19
    Dislike 2
  6. vtp again says:

    Professor Pothole gave the companies till the end of 2018 to deal with the problems.

    Why on earth does it have to take that long???

    I am pretty sure that (ahum) if nothing has changed by the end of 2018 Professor Pothole will do absolutely nothing. Like he always does.

    Like 12
    • Fozzy Bear says:

      Lacking Action Man done raid the barn long time now – check their investments around the place. BVI got hoodwinked by these pirates.

      Now his idle threat will go absolutely nowhere as he is not seeking re-election as his cup runneth over.

  7. Customer says:

    Lime need to fix the access to certain website problems. People can’t access sites because the Internet is Antigua and Bermuda. They need to change Internet back to British Virgin Islands.

  8. @Proud BVislander says:

    You know your internet speed is extremely slow when you try to stream a U Tube video and it keeps on freezing.

    Customers should be given their money back..no questions ask.

    Like 10
  9. frequent flyer says:

    What is general guy doing besides racking up frequent flyer miles?

  10. The Diaspora says:

    You know, this is annoying! And beyond bothersome! While visiting home (Virgin Islands) earlier this year, I had to withdraw from my online courses of study as I could not meet my required deadlines for courses submission due to internet connection problems (which I attributed to the present issues surrounding Urmaria storms). Therefore, I had to sit out an entire semester of study. I am presently re-enrolling for those courses of study this fall semester, and at the same time praying that I don’t have to visit until my study is completed because of that main (internet connection) issue.
    Therefore, I concur with Pain Point’s opinion (August 22, 2018 at 8:34 AM) “Many professionals are waiting to move home, but not without a proper internet infrastructure.” I would like to add, not only proper internet service, but definitely proper sewerage infrastructure.” How long did the fix to the sewerage issue began? I am sure it is about 30 years if not more. Any idea(s) what those of us in the diaspora can do to help. I know we have young brilliant minds in the country who can step-up to the plate and take care of these long-standing issue. I am asking all the older leaders to move aside, and let our young brilliant minds find their rightful positions to catapult our country forward into the paradise it certainly can be.

    Like 10
  11. concern says:

    What are some of the roles and responsibilities of trc. I know of few businesses have to relocate because of poor Internet and this has nothing do do with hurricane. It was way before.
    Kids cannot do their homework properly because of this. Cannot play certain video games in the bvi because of slow Internet or lack there of.
    I just came from antegua ,the Internet service there is first class.

    Like 7
    Dislike 1
  12. real says:

    I think some companies move their server to the caman islands and are working here remotely because of poor service

  13. Brad Boynes says:

    The BVI Dutty! Clean it up.

  14. Government says:

    Government to be blamed… the public been complaining and the governments just sit back and do nothing about it from day one.

  15. Silent says:

    The TRC is a waste of time and so is the minister. All of them need locking up as far as I am concerned.

  16. Shark says:

    With the telecommunications sector if you want to get better service, we already have the laws inplace, all you have to do is induce heavy fines on these companies and you would get results, send the message across the board.but I guess when you have law makers who are share holders in these companies you get nothing done.

    • They suck says:

      Fines would require a TRC CEO that knows what to do and how to do it. As long as the current leader is there that’s NOT going to happen. He’s all excuses and boarding passes till he can retire.

  17. Retired says:

    Someday in the future the internet will be delivered via satellites at customer friendly user speeds and rates. The 3 BVI internet providers are purposely gouging customers here now with high rates and slow speeds for pure greed.

    • Rubber Duck says:

      The non too distant future. Satellite internet will undoubtedly kill the lazy slothful greedy backward companies that we have here in BVI. But it will not be cheap for many years. No 50/50 for a while.

  18. E.Leonard says:

    Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged and decimated the BVI, causing approximately $3.6B in damages. Every part of life was impacted, ie, schools, sport, employment/jobs, housing, public safety, infrastruncture, medical, social safety net, economy………etc. It (VI) is struggling to find its footing.

    Though the hurricanes devastated the territory disrupting life, causing stress, changing life and circumstances……..etc, in a twisted way, it created a new opportunity to do things differently, including rebuilding differently and better. It can rebuild infrastructure, schools, public safety facilities…..etc differently. It should capitalized on the oppprtunity to do things differently; however, it wil require patience, inconveniences, sacrifices, understanding……etc by residents.

    Moreover, as others have eloquently stated, telecommunications is important for effective business operations and sustainability both locally and internationally. Telecommunications enhances productivity and provides flexibility in performing work. Government needs to set performance standards and perform strong and effective oversight to ensure that at least the minimum standards are being met. And companies that cannot meet standards, customer expectations and satisfaction, perhaps, should leave the market.

    • Class Mate says:

      In a different world and under different circumstances, the BVI should take advantage of the opportunity to do things and rebuild differently. You are rightly looking towards the future and focusing on the production possibilities frontier. But boi mehson, dem man need wuk now to pay them car payment, mortgage(s), feed and clothed dem family, pay tuition fees…..etc.

      Further, the territory is having difficulty now in borrowing to rebuild the same as it was so where will it get the money to rebuild differently? If it were you calling the shots, how would you address the issue?

      By the way, notice that you are suggesting tearing down the Elmore House High School(ESHS) and redesigning and resiting it to maximize land use. Concur with that suggestion. The ESHS was poorly designed and maximum use is not being had from the land.

      • E. Leonard says:

        @Class Mate & Hmm.

        Hmm: We hate change and we are comfortable in our comfort zones but change is inevitable; it is one of the few constants in life. A paradigm shift is needed in our attitude and approach towards change.

        Class Mate: “ If it were you calling the shots, how would you address the issue?” The decision and plans on how to attack the national recovery is complex and complicated; should things be done differently or the same;it requires a balancing act.

        The territory was not developed based on a structured national development plan/master plan. Consequently, opportunities and resources were not maximized/optimized. However, the devastation presented an opportunity to do things differently. This will take planning, courage, commitment, leadership, sacrifices, making priorities, funding, community engagement ………..etc.

        Fast forwarding, an action plan should be developed to 1) deliver basic services, and 2) recovery plan for doing things differently.

        Moreover, the territory must look beyond today; it must look towards the future. It must take care of current generations (Silent, Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y(Millenial), Gen Z and others) and also plan for generations of Virgin Islanders yet unborn.

    • hmm says:

      true, agreed. However no one likes change so the way things were is the way things will be.

  19. informed says:

    Local cellular data service if fine regardless of local provider (meaning the problem isn’t the phone to tower bandwidth). The problem is the size of the data “pipe” to the rest of the world which is typically a problem of insufficient a local government’s infrastucture planning. So……if the BVI government found a way to fund a better telecom infrastructure for “off island” comms the problem woud be alleviated

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