NTRC approves reduction in Telecom rates
May 22, 2009
NTRC approves reduction in Telecom rates

Vincentian small business operators may have an opportunity to put some extra dollars in their coffers later this year with the anticipated reduction in the rates for telecommunication services.{{more}}

Cheryl Hector, an economist in the Ministry of Telecommunications, Science and Industry, on Monday, May 18th, 2009, made the disclosure at a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Conference Room held to discuss the reduction in the local telecommunications interconnection rates.

Hector said the entrepreneurs stand to benefit most from the expected reduction in fixed to mobile rates because they will now be able to save on their fixed lines when calling customers who have mobile phones.

The reduction in interconnection rates stems from a decision taken at the 19th meeting of the Council of Ministers of ECTEL held in St.Lucia on Friday, March 13th, 2009. At that meeting the Ministers approved the long run incremental cost lyric models to be used in the determination of cost oriented interconnection models in the East Caribbean Telecommunications (ECTEL) member states.

Minister of Telecommunications, Science and Industry Dr.Jerrol Thompson told the media that the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) has moved to approve the interconnection rates put forward by the ministers and this means that cost oriented interconnection rates will be utilized in St.Vincent and the Grenadines. He further stated that the introduction of cost oriented rates will result in the reduction of rates for all interconnection services.

“It is our expectations that come June 1st the various operators are going to reduce the rates. We are particularly interested in our mobile to mobile charges, as well as the fixed to mobile charges,” said Minister Thompson.

“Presently we have some 79 cents for a mobile to mobile call that’s prepaid. We expect some reduction in that to as low as 50 cents. In the case of the fixed to mobile charges, these are in the region of some 89 cents and we expect that there will be some adjustments of those particular rates,” said Thompson.

According to Thompson, fixed to mobile rates are regulated in a current price cap agreement, which has been extended to November 2009, while mobile to mobile rates are unregulated and will be determined by market forces.

Apollo Knights, Director of NTRC, said St.Vincent and the Grenadines is the first of the OECS states to implement the new cost regulated rates. This is due to the fact that this country has moved ahead with its plans to have a new interconnection agreement in place from May 11.

“We expect to see a lowering of certain rates as the Minister has outlined. We don’t have a time frame when that will happen. Some of the rates are unregulated, which is up to the provider to implement them at a certain time. What I can say is that from correspondence that we have received from Cable and Wireless in the past year or two, they had outlined that they will move to a reduced rate that is the fixed to mobile rate by a certain percentage if the mobile termination rate was reduced,” Knights explained.

Knights expressed that the interconnection rates have been reduced to a figure that is in line with what LIME was looking for.(HN)