Our Readers' Opinions
November 13, 2012

Open letter to the Prime Minister about Internet access in SVG

Tue, Nov 13, 2012

Dear Mr Prime Minister,

Your effort to supply schoolchildren with laptop computers is applauded by everyone; it recognises the nescessity of access to the Internet as a learning tool for children from an early age.

But the supply of the laptops themselves would only be half the full story; access to the Internet through the existing two providers is a completely different problem.{{more}}

Internet access needs to be at a speed and bandwidth consistent with the result of whatever the children may be researching. looking at the supply situation in most countries, I would suggest that a minimum realistic speed would need to be approximately 2meg/sec.

Unfortunately, Vincentians find that they have to pay approximately twice what their immediate neighbours in St Lucia and Grenada do for access to the Internet through both Lime and Karib Cable.

For example: in St Lucia, Karib Cable charges $97.75 for a 2.2Mbps service; the same service in St Vincent and the Grenadines costs $182.25. although there has been a special offer running recently offering this service for $120, it is still a figure demonstrably higher than their offer to St Lucians.

If you compare the offering by LIME to their clients in Grenada, the situation is even more ridiculous: a 2Mbps service to Grenadians, and it is immaterial whether they live in Carriacou or Petit Martinique or on mainland Grenada, is only $79.35/month. In Grenada, for less than they charge for a 2Mbps service here in SVG they’ll give you an 8Mbps service! ($159.85 for 8meg in Grenada, against $171.35 for 2meg here in SVG).

When I recently wrote to Lime and asked for an explanation, they replied that the price for each island country was different and it depended on “customer take-up within the country”. I would suggest that the usual economic rule of thumb easily applies here, the rule stating that when the price is twice as high, the take-up is half of what it might otherwise be. If the price here in SVG was halved, then I very much suspect the take-up would surge possibly to well more than twice the take-up now.

Mr Prime Minister, I appreciate that you are a very busy man and might not be able to personally look into this very important matter, but I would urge you to ask your minister responsible for telecommunications to do so on your behalf and to try to discover, and change, the pricing structure of the existing two providers.

Many thanks.

Richard Ashton