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OECS calls for removal of roaming rates

By CMC

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Didacus Jules.

CMC – The St Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern States (OECS) Commission is calling for the removal of roaming fees attached to mobile calls between the nine-member sub-regional grouping.

“We’re not talking about the fancy marketing glitz of something called home roaming or anything like that. We want the removal of roaming,” said OECS Director General Dr Didacus Jules.

The OECS countries have been arguing that since they have formed a single economic union, they should not have to pay roaming charges between Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.

Jules, speaking prior to leaving here for the OECS summit that opens in the French island of Martinique later on Wednesday, said that “if the OECS is a single economic space, the same way you can make a call from Castries to Vieux Fort, the same way you should make a call from Castries to St Georges or Castries to St John’s.

“It cannot be a roaming call,” he added.

The OECS position comes also against the backdrop of efforts by the sub-region to make Information Communication Technology more accessible and affordable to consumers in the sub-region.

Telecommunication service providers have been calling on government to tax Voice over Internet Protocol applications such as Skype and Viber, which they say are impacting negatively on their businesses.

But Jules said such a position by the service providers is not feasible.

“What these facilities have brought in terms of value for money proposition to the use of the internet and to the cost of doing business especially for small business people and even at a family level for families being able to keep in touch with their loved ones in the Diaspora.

“It cannot be subject to taxation and so on because it is a real material benefit,” he added.

Earlier this week, Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said roaming charges pose a challenge to an integrated Caribbean platform and are too costly.

Mitchell, who is also the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) head of government with responsibility for Information, Communication and Telecommunication (ICT), told delegates attending the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) 25th anniversary ICT Week in Trinidad that his government incurred an exorbitant phone bill due to roaming charges.

“The phone is not roaming. For the first two months, when all of us got into office and I saw the bill I said ‘cut it’. Something is fundamentally wrong. I have to use my own personal phone and don’t feel in conscience I should allow the taxpayers to do so (pay for it).

“If I call my friend in London or New York and call Jamaica and go on Cable & Wireless, the cost is extremely high. You can call India for a few cents. Why should we be able to have to spend all that money? We are late. We are behind and we don’t have time,” Mitchell added.

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7 comments

  1. It is definitely high time it stops DJ

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  2. DIGICEL for one, charges are extremely high. even if u got a data plan and travel they still take up your credit in no time and give some silly excuses when u call 100. I've been travelling for years and from last summer it has been so. DIGICEL THE BIGGER NONSENSE NETWORK!!! comeon LIME give some competition to then

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  3. YES GARCON. NO MORE ROAMING CHARGES FOR MOBILE NUMBERS REGISTERED TO CARRIERS WITHIN THE ECTEL REGION. NEXT STAGE IS TO LOOK AT STOLEN MOBILE PHONES WITHIN THE OECS REGION AND BLOCK THEIR USE ACROSS ALL OECS NETWORKS.

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  4. No more roaming charges in the OECS.

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  5. Anonymous there will be an advantage to them because the cheaper the calls the more calls will be made... Very good initiative!

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  6. Finally someone speaks up about these charges..... Good job.

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  7. All these things are good in themselves, such as free movements of people and now free communications by phone. Some questions need to be asked when such moves are made. (1) How is the change going to impact the whole positively ? ( 2) Who benefits the most ? (3) What are the negative consequences of any action and how they can be controlled ? I raise these issues because I am convinced that the intentions are generally good but if not studied before implementation, they can impact negatively when not intended. For example we have seen how freedom of movement are benefitting drug and human traffickers more than anyone else and free calls among islands is just going to facilitate their trade even more effective. If we can control criminals, then it's all good. We cannot give them any advantages.

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