BY JASON EDGAR
buildup was perfect. The marketing team from LIME had done well. Unlike the
Digicel rebranding event dubbed “Be Extraordinary”, which went by almost
unnoticed, LIME was not about to make this an ordinary event.
day had arrived and the climax was near. The event was MC’ed by the inimitable
Mr. Pringles, at the JQ Mall, in the heart of Rodney Bay. Our passionate Groovy
Soca King, Tennyson John, now also a LIME ambassador, was on standby to hype up
the crowd. A total of 7 or more broadcast houses had been hired to cover the
event (who said we had too many stations in the country!). Present were
distinguished guests such as the ubiquitous President of the Senate, Claudius
Francis, and a commissioner from the National Telecommunications Regulatory
Commission (NTRC), Roderick Cherry. Of noticeable absence was the ‘techy’
Minister of Technology, Dr. Jimmy Fletcher. At 10:32 and a half, the master of
ceremonies invited on stage, none other than the Country Manager for LIME,
Chris Williams, to announce, the “BIG ONE”, the event which would “shake up the
Telecom landscape” forever in Saint Lucia.
by online feedback from the social networks and one-on-one interactions with a
few friends, most expected LIME to announce the immediate launch of 4G mobile
technology during that Saturday morning event. Alas, that was not to be. An
obviously disappointed customer, “ML”, wrote on the page Facebook of LIME,
“that’s the BIG surprise?”. Like him, many appeared also disappointed. Could
this be the reason the Minister decided to stay away?
I had predicted one of three outcomes, a reduction in mobile calling rates, an
increase in broadband speed, or the introduction of 4G. It turned out to be the
first option. Like its counterpart in Jamaica, LIME St. Lucia, announced a new
flat rate, “ONE RATE”, for prepaid callers to other LIME, Digicel, Karib Kable
and other customers in the Caribbean region – unlike Jamaica, though, the new rate is not 3 cents US per minute(a 60%
rate decrease) but rather 60 cents (approximately 23 cents USD) per
minute. This represents a decrease in
the range of 13-24 percent for some destinations and an increase of 20% for
calling other OECS countries (See Fig 1 below for more details). Jamaica’s flat
rate also applies to calls made to the USA, Canada and the UK.
to be outdone by LIME, Digicel decided on the same Saturday morning to sell
cellphones for only $10. Judging by video footage from HTS, this created a
black-Friday type mad rush among customers, as they tried to squeeze through
the door of one of the outlets downtown Castries to get a piece of the pie.
postpaid customers like me, will not benefit from the announcement made by LIME
yesterday. Nevertheless, this sort of competition among the providers is
commendable. The regulators (NTRC/ECTEL), who seem to have gone asleep over the
past few years must now rise; they need to analyze these ‘deals’ to ensure that
they are clear(without any clandestine motives) and in the interest of
consumers. They need to move quickly to ensure that the cross-network
termination rates are reduced; they need to encourage the operators to
implement Mobile Number Portability, MNP, which will allow customers to switch
providers without switching numbers. What became of this exercise which was
started some years ago?
And may the liberalization of the telecom
industry, fought so hard by our current Prime Minister, Dr Kenny D. Anthony,
and his team 14 years ago continue to encourage this sought of healthy competition
among the operators. Did somebody say 4G next?
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