Telecoms overreach contradicts Vision 2030
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Jamaica's Vision 2030 document, which is supposedly the driver behind all government policy, seeks to position Jamaica as the place to live, work and do business by 2030.
Critical in making this possible are the areas of telecommunications and Internet service, particularly as it relates to accessibility, speed and affordability. Any failure in one or all three grounds or a combination thereof will put us at a serious disadvantage in comparison to our global competitors in a broad range of industries from tourism to the financial service industry.
This brings me, therefore, to the recent acquisition of Columbus Communications Inc (Flow) by Cable & Wireless Communications (LIME). There has rightly been some debate as to potential negative effects on residential customers, but perhaps a greater effect may be felt by the general business community, which will be eventually felt by the final consumer.
To compete globally, companies need to have access to the best choice of products at the best prices. In a monopoly, this is often difficult to come by unless there is a vigilant and committed regulator on the job supported by a conscious government. We seem, in Jamaica, to be lacking in both areas.
This deal, which will see the merged company operating as Flow, will lead to a near monopoly in the distribution of cable and Internet services along with great powers to exclude any potential competition in the industry. This ability to exclude is most dangerous and effectively means a restriction in choice.
Such restriction seems incompatible with our stated goals for 2030 and one wonders whether it will remain simply a pipe dream.