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November 17, 2006


Cable & Wireless, Digicel ‘fire shots’

The bouncers and googlies between Cable & Wireless and their fierce rival, Digicel, appear to be moving from the cricket pitch and escalating into a galactic battle among the “rising stars”.

At the heart of the dispute is the allegation from Digicel that Cable & Wireless has barred its customers from voting for their favourite Digicel Rising Star.{{more}}

The Irish telecommunications company has been running a crawler across the television screen “aplogising” to customers from other networks saying it is their provider which did not facilitate their participation in the vote.

However the British telecoms giant has told SEARCHLIGHT it is not true.

Chief Executive Officer of Cable & Wireless, Darryl Jackson, said that when Digicel approached them earlier this year the financial arrangements were unacceptable.

“The ticker that they ran is a deliberate attempt to mislead the public,” Jackson said. “Based on what Digicel was offering us when they approached us, Cable & Wireless was really going to be just a collection agency.”

Under arrangements which govern tariffs, carriers share the money a caller pays when the call crosses platforms. In this case Digicel is charging $1 per text message. If that originates on a Cable & Wireless cell phone then Cable & Wireless is entitled to a portion of the fee.

Jackson said that the slice Digicel was offering was lower than the current arrangement for an ordinary text message.

He said talks broke down with Digicel.

However, given the national pride associated with the finals with Vincentians campaigning strongly for Kyron Baptiste, Jackson said they had a change of heart last weekend and decided to go with Digicel’s demand and take the small percentage but Digicel has now refused to accept text messages from Cable & Wireless customers in St Vincent and in Antigua.

He charged that Digicel wants the entire Caribbean Cable & Wireless system onboard or none at all.


Manager of Digicel, Martin Bollers said talks never started so they could not have broken down.

“They said flatly that they would not be willing to participate,” Bollers told SEARCHLIGHT.

He said that Kevin White, CEO Digicel’s OECS operation led the negotiation for Digicel but his team was not allowed to reach the stage of a financial compensation package because Cable & Wireless did not even want to consider the arrangement.

“Rising Star is not about money,” he said, “it is a competition that has become dear to the OECS and it is our way of giving back to the society.”

He charged that Cable & Wireless was attempting to mislead the public with their “change of heart” stance due to “national pride” that the competition has taken on.

“It is their customers that have forced their hands,” Bollers charged. “It is due to a barrage of calls made to their customer care department from customers demanding to be a part of the Rising Star voting process.”

The Digicel manager said talks were now underway.

Cable & Wireless said it has not ruled out legal action and Digicel said it was not “remotely concerned” about any potential legal action because they had all the facts and correspondence.

“Legal action does not scare us. Any Court will be on our side in this matter,” Bollers confidently said.