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Hon Vanterpool against ‘prohibitive prices’ for broadband service

- wants customers ‘large & small’ to benefit
With improved broadband service on the horizon for the Virgin Islands, Minister for Communication and Works Honourable Mark H. Vanterpool (R4) has made it clear that the phone companies in the VI should not charge customers dastardly exorbitant prices for the service. Photo: VINO
Minister for Communications and Works Honourable Mark H. Vanterpool and Minister for Health and Social Development Ronnie W. Skelton (left) in a light moment with CTU members as they discussed matters of telecommunications. Photo: VINO
Minister for Communications and Works Honourable Mark H. Vanterpool and Minister for Health and Social Development Ronnie W. Skelton (left) in a light moment with CTU members as they discussed matters of telecommunications. Photo: VINO
Digicel's senior staff members were present at the regional conference on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Week and had engaged Jamaica’s Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Honourable Phillip Paulwell (2nd left). Left is Digicel's PR and Sponsorship Executive Katasha Melville while right is Digicel (BVI) CEO Conor Looney. Photo: VINO
Digicel's senior staff members were present at the regional conference on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Week and had engaged Jamaica’s Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Honourable Phillip Paulwell (2nd left). Left is Digicel's PR and Sponsorship Executive Katasha Melville while right is Digicel (BVI) CEO Conor Looney. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – With improved broadband service on the horizon for the Virgin Islands, Minister for Communications and Works Honourable Mark H. Vanterpool (R4) has made it clear that the phone companies in the VI should not charge customers dastardly exorbitant prices for the service.

‘Real broadband’ is something the three major telecommunication companies in the territory have been pressing the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) to open up to the VI community; Digicel and LIME, which are both Caribbean-wide entities, and the lone home grown company CCT Global Communications.

Hon Vanterpool was at the time addressing participants and specially invited guests at the opening ceremony of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Week 2015 at Maria’s by the Sea, Road Town, Tortola.

Technology already exists

“I strongly believe that consumers should not have to pay prohibitive prices for this, because the technology already exists and is in use elsewhere in the world,” Hon Vanterpool stated as he noted that the Virgin Islands is in a reset mode and telecommunication plays one of the most crucial roles in ensuring that a higher standard of living for the VI people can be achieved.

He said the size of a country and its population is irrelevant in terms of being on the cutting edge of technology and that the VI intends to keep pace with the rapid advancement in the delivery of goods and services through technology.

“As Minister with responsibility for ICT I want to assure everyone that our telecommunications regulatory agency, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), is putting the mechanism in place to enable the launch of real broadband in the Virgin Islands, using all mediums available,” Hon Vanterpool stated.

“And as I have learnt from colleagues in other countries, such as Aruba who came to visit me here, this 15 megabits speed is standard and achievable. As a Government, we are encouraging all of the operators to ensure that consumers, large and small, can benefit from real broadband service, very shortly,” added the Communications Minister.

Currently, there is an Open Data Initiative financed by the World Bank and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) of which the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) is very supportive, according to Hon Vanterpool.

He said the initiative will facilitate Caribbean countries in opening non-sensitive Government data, particularly public finance data, with the aim of increasing transparency, creating economic value and facilitating data-driven policy-making.

‘Not so fast for broadband service’

The TRC had disclosed that it is expected to grant LTE licences in this month, October 2015, which would facilitate improved internet services in the Virgin Islands.

Chief Executive Officer of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Mr Guy L. Malone had said that following the issuing of licences in October, one would have to take into consideration that operators would need time to build their LTE network with respect to the spectrum that they acquire.

“You are looking at a minimum of six months. We haven’t decided yet what the timeframe will be. That will be done in consultation with the operators because each of them will have different views as to how long it would take or if they need to build extra towers et cetera,” he had said.

The TRC on Tuesday June 30, 2015 had published a public consultation on the possible award of spectrum in the 450 MHz, 700 MHz, 1900 MHz, 1800MHz/2100 MHz/AWS-1 and 2500 MHz bands.

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