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LIME questions rates

LIME questions rates

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LIME Country Manager Angus Steele has issued a call to other telecommunication providers in St Vincent and the Grenadines to follow his company’s lead and reduce the effective call rates its customers pay when calling from their network.{{more}}

Steele made the call on the radio talk show programme Voices, hosted by Jomo Thomas. Also present on the program was Apollo Knight, Director of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC).

Steele also made this call during a Hot Seat Debate at the CTU ICT Caribbean Roadshow on October 20, 2009, where he challenged the Minister of Telecommunications Dr. Jerrol Thompson and the Executive Director of the NTRC to hold a public consultation on the matter with the other providers invited to be part of the panel, something that is yet to be accomplished.

Steele contended that since May 2009, LIME has reduced its rates to not only their customers but to its own customers as well, following the first rate reduction on May 15, and Digicel has not responded, even after they have been asked to do so by the NTRC many times. “Their response to the NTRC when asked to reduce rates was that they cannot reduce rates since they are receiving less money from LIME since LIME reduced its rates,” said Steele. He continued: “customers of the other provider should, therefore, ask their provider to explain to them why they are continuing to pay these high rates to call from their provider to LIME. Are you aware that since the two reductions in May and October, a call from LIME fixed line to Digicel costs less than a call using a Digicel phone to call a LIME Fixed line? These are tough times, and it is unprecedented that customers are being taken for a ride and they have not asked any questions. We have passed on savings to our customers and the other operator need to respond likewise.”

“Six years ago when competition was introduced in St Vincent and the Grenadines, one of the issues on the table that created some heated debate was the Mobile Termination Rate (MTR). This is the rate that companies agree on for passing calls between networks. Steele revealed that six years ago, to make a LIME fixed line call to Digicel, Digicel collected 61 cents per minute out of 69 cents. However, to make a call in the other direction, LIME will only collect 6 cents per minute for that call. This was the agreement then, and it always created some disparity which for years we questioned and wanted addressed. The new wholesale rates effective October 11, 2009, were reduced to 31 cents per minute and we responded by passing the savings to our customers,” said Steele.

“Digicel customers are also paying more to call each other than what LIME customers are paying to call each other so why stay on a network that charges you more to call its own and in addition to that, a higher charge to call fixed lines?” argued Steele.

Steele urged the listeners, the general public and especially their customers to visit www.ntrc.vc website and make the rate comparison for themselves and then ask the questions of their provider: What are you doing with the excess money that you are collecting from us? Why aren’t you passing on the lower rates to you as expected when wholesale rates between the companies are reduced?

“Where are the consumer action groups in all of this that should be looking out for everyone in these hard times?” asked Steele.

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