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ECTEL: Telecoms networks interconnection service charge must be reduced

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The Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) is determined to see a reduction in the charge for interconnection services between telecommunications networks. This, as it strives to increase liberalization of the telecommunications industry in its member states.{{more}}

A public consultation was held on Wednesday, May 28th, at the Peace Memorial Hall, where the small audience was apprised of, among other things, ECTEL’s goal of seeing interconnection rates between networks become cost oriented, thereby easing the burden on customers.

Describing the issue of interconnection rates as the single most important issue facing telecommunication regulators, chairman of the local National Telecommunication regulatory Commission (NTRC) Apollo Knights said that as a new agreement is set to be hammered out between rival telecommunications providers Cable & Wireless and Digicel, consumers should see the interconnection fee significantly reduced, in keeping with the objective of ECTEL.

During his presentation, General Counsel of ECTEL David Cox said that situations that existed in the past, where incumbent providers were able to delay interconnectivity agreements, through which they gained unfair advantages over competitors that were now entering the particular market must also be stamped out.

He said that the speed in which a telecommunications market allows a new player into it is the judge of the market.

Calling the developments in telecommunications, the liberalization of the industry, a most important, fundamental initiative as in relation to development in the Eastern Caribbean islands, Cox said that issues like number portability must also come into the picture.

According to Cox, while telecommunications providers may not like number portability, the opportunity to move a telephone number across networks will be beneficial to a customer who only stays with a network because his operation is linked to a particular phone number will then have the freedom to change based on service provided.

“It (number portability) makes them (telecommunication providers) have to compete based on the service they provide,” Cox said.

Cox also had strong views with regard to the importance of telecommunications in the reshaping of the economies of Eastern Caribbean countries.

He said that while the islands realize that they must move away from mono crop economies, it isn’t the wisest thing to throw all their eggs into the tourism basket.

He noted that a lot of opportunities exist for young, skilled persons to get high paying, high skilled jobs using ICTs, and it is an area that has been under-examined.(KJ)

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