Premier Andrew Fahie has rubbished the reasons local telecommunications providers recently gave for their poor and expensive internet service to the territory.
The Premier was responding to recent BVI News report in which two of the three main telecoms providers claimed that unfavourable terrain and the expensive cost of infrastructure have largely contributed to the cost of internet services in the territory.
“These stated reasons raise certain questions in my mind and certainly in the mind of ordinary everyday persons because the telecommunications service providers would have known about these technical issues before they applied for the concessions to operate and therefore, I cannot believe that this is an after the fact discovery,” the Premier said in the House of Assembly on Monday.
He said telecoms providers will now have up to half-a-decade to improve their service. He further noted that other measures will be taken to facilitate this.
“The government and the regulator have begun discussions and will continue to discuss with the operators and other key stakeholders propose changes to the market structure, regulatory reforms, new license requirements, enhance quality of service standards and revisiting the implementation of the industry levy to deliver market improvement of telecommunications services throughout the territory within three to five years,” Premier Fahie stated.
Fahie also revealed that more than 20 million dollars in taxes were waived by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission to facilitate telecoms providers in delivering modern, competitive, and reasonably-priced services to the local market.
“A total revenue that would have been collected by the commission from the telecom companies from the date of liberalisation — 2007 to present is $20,773,529.02. That is the amount of money that the Commission gifted the telecoms company by this forbearance with the anticipation that it would be put towards improving the service quality and price,” the Premier said.
Due to what he described as a large number of complaints about high internet prices and inconsistent service locally, the Premier said it is evident the primary policy objectives set back in 2007 have not been achieved.
A UK report back in 2017 listed BVI as an underperforming country that has one of the most expensive internet services on the planet.
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