ST JOHN’S, Antigua – General Manager of LIME Davidson Charles has welcomed the opened telecommunications market that will enable all telecoms providers to compete on a levelled playing field.
Charles said however that both the country and people of Antigua & Barbuda benefited from the 25-year monopoly held by Cable and Wireless.
“Our rates for local calling and rentals were one of the lowest in the Caribbean region. It also aided us to be the first to offer Internet in the Caribbean and the first to offer digitised voice in 1995. Since then telecommunications and technologies have advanced. This will allow greater benefits to customers through increased competition,” Charles said.
The company’s 25-year exclusive license ceased to apply two weeks ago, giving way for other telecoms providers to openly compete for international telecoms service.
Since then the Cabinet of Antigua & Barbuda has approved international telecommunications services licenses to Antigua Wireless Limited, trading as Digicel; Cable and Wireless Antigua Limited trading as LIME; Antigua Computer Technology Limited (ACT); and the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA).
Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Dr Edmond Mansoor has also signed a memorandum of understanding that will govern, on a contractual and mandatory basis, the relationships between the international telecommunications operators in the post-LIME monopoly era with senior corporate executives of the various telecommunication companies.
According to Charles, the two-year MOU will seek to regulate the telecoms sector in the absence of legislation.
It is the hope of the GM that the government will introduce the “critical piece of legislation” during this period to govern the sector.
“Clearly the preference of the operators is for it to be done during the two-year period. However unfortunately we cannot direct the affairs of the government so it depends on when our government chooses to do so,” Charles added.
Both LIME and its biggest competitor Digicel Antigua Limited have already gotten the ball rolling by launching intensive campaigns, slashing rates for international and regional telephone calls.