THE EDITOR, Sir:
Reports indicate that the LIME's Flow buyout is proceeding along, even with LIME now ditching its name and putting much of the merged operations under the Flow brand.
As a consumer and business-owner who needs reliable, efficient and inexpensive tele-communications services, I can't say that I am pleased, and I wonder, who is looking out for our interest?
With Cable & Wireless (C&W) paying over US$3 billion to buy Flow, thereby taking on board fixed telephones, fixed broadband and an all-island cable TV licence, we have very literally gone back to the dreadful monopolistic days of C&W. It is as if the country is taking two steps backwards after taking one step forward a decade and a half ago. We are back to square one.
In other parts of the world, mergers can only proceed if they have no anti-competitive effect and the merging parties agree to conditions that allow competition to thrive. Why then does C&W want the Caribbean to rush? I see where Barbados and St Lucia have gone the route of public consultations on the merger. And the United States and Europe
are replete with examples of mergers that have gone through considerable public debate as people and their governments assess the bottom-line impact on consumers.
In our case, the merger should have only been allowed if conditions are imposed that prevent the new C&W monopoly from excluding competitors and raising prices. Since the C&W mobile monopoly was broken
by Digicel, mobile prices have decreased dramatically. C&W cannot then be allowed to prevent competition for off-island capacity, fixed telephones, broadband and cable TV services.