Our Readers' Opinions
April 19, 2016
FLOW/LIME merger still unsettled – ECTEL

EDITOR: ECTEL announced over three weeks ago that negotiations with Columbus Communications and Cable and Wireless Communications had collapsed, since “existing legislation does not give ECTEL sufficient standing to stop or impose remedies on companies partaking in mergers and acquisitions in the telecommunications sector.” Last week, ECTEL announced it was “fine tuning a draft of new legislation” that might allow it greater authority. Do all five countries in ECTEL have to agree?{{more}} Do all five have to then introduce and pass enabling legislation to make this effective? And how long would that take?

Liberty Global bought Cable and Wireless in November of last year. Not much publicity about that. Flow has an Internet business, Lime has an Internet business, both formerly Cable and Wireless, and now Liberty Global has it all. What does ECTEL or any local telecommunications authority have to say about that? Who really is billing us, where does the money go, who can have any say in how much we are billed and by whom? Is it all up in the air – the bills go up, rates increase and everyone just shrugs their shoulders?

I met John Malone (John C Malone, if you want to google him) many years ago in Colorado; he’s a year younger than me, but considerably better situated. He struck me as an honest, very sharp, very bright fellow, who deserves every penny he’s earned, including building Liberty Global into what it is today. I begrudge him nothing.

I was told to bring in my old set top box (Karib Cable, Columbus Communications, whoever) and get a new one. I did, and now pay EC$30 per month more for virtually the same channels I had before. Whoops, correction, the newspapers just announced an additional $20 increase, so I will be paying $50 more, hey lucky me!

I seemed to have read in the newspapers, at the time of the Cable and Wireless acquisition of Columbus Communications, that the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines has no legislation that addresses acquisitions or monopolistic practices. So then, just what can it “regulate”? It can hire and pay cronies to staff an agency that has no power. Legislation is being discussed to deal with this. Whoopee! Maybe by the time my grandchildren are paying $1,000 a month for 10 channels, there may be regulations in place that can ameliorate this rip-off.

Hugo