Telecom liberalisation would enhance Barbados’ competitiveness

By Randy Howard

THE liberalization of the local telecommunications market is not only good for consumers, but would also greatly enhance Barbados’ level of competitiveness vis-à-vis the rest of the world.

This was the argument made by Director of the consulting firm Ideas 4 Lease, Chris Halsall, in an interview with the Business Monday.

Halsall was very passionate when he made the argument, stating that “as long as our telecommunications rates as high as they currently are, we’re not going to be anywhere near as competitive as, for example, Mexico, India, and Thailand. There are a lot of places in the world with much better telecoms at much better rates.”

He was making this point regarding the issue of the current state of long distance telecommunications, the cost of which he believes to be too high.

He stated that “International voice is Cable & Wireless’ traditional cash cow” and that no one should be angry with them because their job is to maximise their returns. However, he is of the view that there needs to be a “true elimination of these outrageous long distance charges – and the only way to achieve this is with regulation.”

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Enforce the telecommunications legislation

By Randy Howard

POLICIES have been agreed on, legislation has been passed, however, liberalization of the telecommunications market has not progressed in the way that it should.

As a result, one local commentator is calling on Government, specifically the Barbados Fair Trading Commission (FTC), to take steps towards enforcing the legislation that has been passed, and to ensure that the level of liberalization sought is brought to fruition.

Chris Halsall, Director of independent consulting firm, Ideas 4 Lease, made the point that the local Telecommunications Act Review Committee, on which he sits, has done some excellent work in the last year regarding the push towards liberalisation, including the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Policy, and then more recently the Two Stage Dialing Policy, and the Indirect Access and Equal Access Policy. All of these can be downloaded from the www.telecoms.gov.bb web site.

He stated that Government had set a January 1st 2008 for the implementation of Two Stage Dialing, and October 1st 2008 for Indirect and Equal Access. However, the competitive long distance providers – Sunbeach, Blue Communications, and TeleBarabdos – have been trying to purchase the required interconnecting circuits from the Cable & Wireless without success, even through they are clearly defined within the Policy.

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