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State of internet service hampering economic growth- Premier Fahie

- To meet urgently with telecommunications companies to address ‘technological crisis’
Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) has lamented the state of internet service in the Virgin Islands and says he intends to urgently summon heads of the various telecommunications companies to address the issues. Photo: VINO/Internet Source
The three main internet providers in the Virgin Islands are Digicel, Flow and CCT Global Communications. Photo: Internet Source
The three main internet providers in the Virgin Islands are Digicel, Flow and CCT Global Communications. Photo: Internet Source
A technician of Flow works to restore the networks following the devastation of Hurricane Irma in September 2017. Photo: FLOW/File
A technician of Flow works to restore the networks following the devastation of Hurricane Irma in September 2017. Photo: FLOW/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- The state of internet service in the Territory has been described as a “technological crisis” by Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1), who says he intends to urgently summon heads of the various telecommunications companies to address the issues.

Premier Fahie, in a statement today, May 13, 2019, said it is self-evident that a modern communication network is crucial for the development of every economy, including in the British Virgin Islands.

In was in November 2017 that an international report had listed the Virgin Islands as having one of the most expensive and “underperforming” internet services worldwide.

“More crucially, given that our economy is largely based on tourism and financial services, the need for reliable, efficient and relatively inexpensive communication system are key ingredients for growth and development,” Premier Fahie stated.

Economic growth being hampered

The Leader of Government Business added that given the reality of the modern day economy, the Government of the Virgin Islands (VI) wants to encourage private sector investment and development of the communications architecture here.

He; however, added that the VI wants partners who understand the developmental needs, and who understand that by making communication reliable and affordable, it helps grow the market in which they are operating, ultimately broadening their base in the long term and increasing their profitability.

“The people of the Virgin Islands and those we do business with have become very concerned about (a) the reliability of our internet services and (b) the cost of it.

“The current state of affairs is hampering our economic growth.”

Internet Service in VI too expensive

Premier Fahie reasoned that studies have shown the Virgin Islands has one of the most expensive internet services in the region and that neighbouring islands with similar potential customer base are blessed with more reliable services and at far less the cost that the VI people have had to bear.

He said in some cases, taking into consideration exchange rates, VI customers are paying four times the cost for the same type of service as in some of the other islands of the region.

“Adding insult to injury, our people on a regular basis have had to endure regular outages, and many reports of consequent poor customer services.”

According to a November 21, 2017 press release by Cable.co.uk, a broadband, TV and phone comparator, over 3,351 broadband packages were recorded and analysed by BDRC Continental and Cable.co.uk between August 18 and October 12, 2017. It said the study of broadband pricing in 196 countries reveals vast global disparities in the cost of getting online.

The study found that Saint-Martin offers the cheapest broadband in the Caribbean, with an average package price of USD 20.72 per month, with the [British] Virgin Islands (USD 146.05), Antigua and Barbuda (USD 153.78), Cayman Islands (USD 175.27) and Haiti (224.19) at the most expensive end both regionally and globally.

Meanwhile, in a previous study, the Virgin Islands was among 139 countries that failed to achieve average speeds above 10Mbps, a speed deemed by telecoms watchdog Ofcom to be the minimum required to cope with the needs of a typical family or small business.

In April of 2018 Government had given local telecommunications providers until the end of that year to at least start showing signs of improved internet service.

‘Urgent meeting’ to be called

The Premier announced that his office will inform the local regulatory authorities to look into the concerns immediately.

“Additionally, as the Minister responsible for Telecommunication Services, I intend to call an urgent meeting with the heads of the telecommunications companies operating in the Territory to address what we view as a technological crisis. The meeting with all the relevant stakeholders in the telecommunication industry and the Premier will be sought forthwith.”

Premier Fahie promised to inform all of the people of the VI of the outcome of his meeting.

“We need all hands on deck to confront this challenge and solve the problems for the benefit of our people and the national economy. The cries of our people in this area will not go unheard and unaddressed any longer.

“Together we will persevere until the BVI, in the not too distant future, experiences better internet and other telecom services,” Premier Fahie stated.

8 Responses to “State of internet service hampering economic growth- Premier Fahie”

  • Surfer (13/05/2019, 18:00) Like (40) Dislike (2) Reply
    Finally some action. Thank you Premier. Tired of the high prices and poor service
  • Geezumbread! (13/05/2019, 18:08) Like (28) Dislike (1) Reply
    Our Premier on the move mehson. Yo mekin some a dem head spin who can’t keep up. ‘‘Tis issue been long overdue.
  • Local (13/05/2019, 19:21) Like (27) Dislike (2) Reply
    I can remember Hon Mark Vanterpool threatening the companies publicly because he was ashamed of the report and NOTHING HAPPENED after that threat because it was just lip service and also a conflict of interest. Now we have a premiere who will deal with them .
  • Agree (13/05/2019, 23:53) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    CCT. Lime. Digicel. I tried them all looking for good service... They all failed... The sad part is that it seems like there are no real effort to improve....... When are we going to get Cable TV back.?
    • question (14/05/2019, 06:27) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      Ask CCT. They bought them out. New owners now but I doubt that u’ll b getting and sure answer about that. Good luck.
  • Here we go again. (16/05/2019, 09:36) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Just bring AT&T and Sprint etc just like STT has, it will be easier.. because tourist already coming to the island with there AT&T service or US service providers so might as well step up to that level.. we are going into 2020 and still Deciding if to still keep CCT, DiG and Flow ???


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