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Emergency meeting of OECS telecom ministers


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Dr. James Fletcher.

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.”

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  1. You are an independent country, so why no create laws that enforce fair trade. C&W has had it's day of exploiting the the Caribbean basin, for years they got fat off the blood of poor people. This 2014 we all know what the real cost of communication is. Stop acting like beggars, this is your country, act like it really is, and stop being little puzzys.

  2. "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."

    ONLY NOW?!?!?!

  3. Cable TV - Monopoly
    Home and business internet - Monopoly
    Cell - Competition still

    How did this happen to us again? We are back to Cable and Wireless - Waiting weeks for service, no one answering your call, high prices, and they have even told the world that they will be cutting staff

  4. I wonder if it was Digicel buyin Columbus if all this drama and fight down would hav happened.

    • Then there would have been real competition, my friend. As it stands, if the transaction occurs, where will the competition for Cable and Internet come from? Think on that.

  5. The only thing the oecs can do now is to bring in competition, especially from the Latin American community!

  6. Good to see they're being proactive. Hope they take a firm position on this and don't just talk.

    We have been talking about competition policy and legislation for years and still nothing has changed.

  7. Spectra ***competition***.... you definitely got that part misconstrued...Spectra is just a dot on the map of coverage in any logical sense..we are now at the point of competition **ZERO***...

  8. I don't know ECTEL's procedure for reaching consensus on a yea or nay vote regarding sanctioning of the merger (or even if their opinion is legally binding on corporations), but I predict that this meeting is nought but show (kabuki); a way to pretend, "Gee, we really oppose this merger, and we really tried to appeal to the public-spiritedness of C&W, but we cannot legally stop the merger because 'free markets' and 'globalization' have trumped our sovereignty and remit (cut off our balls). Phew! Thank goodness our testicles will not really be missed. Our big bellies have hidden them from our view for most of our adult years."

  9. This merger points to the need for a Fair Trading Commission or Competition Authority in the OECS together with the associated anti-trust laws.


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