Telecommunications ministers from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will meet here on Thursday to discuss ramifications of the planned merger of the British telecommunications company, Cable and Wireless (CWC) and Columbus Communications International.
Telecommunication Minister Dr. James Fletcher and the members of the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) will meet for the talks, which he described as are crucial given the fact that the recent merger is a source of grave concern to the entire region.
“The proposed merger of Cable and Wireless and Columbus is worrying for us. Flow when they emerged acted as a disrupter, doing things the incumbents were not doing and we really would not like to see the new entity of Lime and Columbus rolling back on some of these things that were very positive for the consuming public,” Minister Fletcher told the local media.
Dr. Fletcher said the situation has highlighted deficiencies in existing legislation, which may have to be revisited. He also said there may be need to create a Fair Trade Commission, since a merger may take place not only in telecommunications, but in other sectors as well.
The OECS telecoms ministers are expected to discuss options and agree on a common position with regard to the proposed deal involving Cable and Wireless and Columbus.
A number of St. Lucians have raised concerns over CWC re-entering the telecommunications market. Some persons accused the company of making telecommunication services expensive in the past. Many persons are calling for increased competition, especially in the land-line service. They are hopeful that this will provide some guarantee for improved services and cheaper rates.
One disgruntled customer said, “Cable and Wireless really think they are fooling us. After all these years of extortion we finally broke free! Only to be returned to their monopoly strong hold. SMDH…Merger my foot. No competitor for fixed line and the only competition for Cable and Internet are Spectra. St Lucia we are in deep trouble. This is back to the 90’s in 2014.”