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Karib Cable wants rate hike issue settled quickly

Karib Cable wants rate hike issue settled quickly

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Kelly Glass, proprietor of Karib Cable, says the company is looking for a quick resolution from the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) to its application for an increase in the company’s basic cable service package.{{more}}

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday, June 23, 2010, Glass, while speaking of a $5.5 million upgrade to his company’s cable system from analog to digital, also used the opportunity to address the issue of the new rates which are under review by the NTRC.

Ian Mulhern, General Manager of Karib Cable, who accompanied Glass to the interview stated: “I know that there has been a little disconnect between the NTRC and ourselves, but they did write a clarification of their position and our position in the paper the second week.”

“It’s a little bit frustrating, but we have to mitigate,” said Mulhern.

On June 11, 2010, shortly after Karib Cable announced that it was upgrading its system and will be increasing the rate for its basic package to $89.99, the NTRC issued a media release informing the public that customers of Karib Cable who have the basic package (analog or digital) will continue to pay $74.75 and not the new rate advertised by the cable company.

The NTRC stated that it needed to approve the $89.99 proposed price.

SEARCHLIGHT contacted the NTRC for an update on the issue after the interview with Glass and Mulhern, and an official from the organisation reiterated that the rates proposed by Karib Cable have not been approved. The official said the issue will be addressed at a commissioners’ meeting, and also at the level of Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL).

Meanwhile, Glass and Mulhern disclosed that Karib Cable will be distributing over 12,000 digital television boxes to Vincentians at no extra charge, with each box estimated to cost the company $156.

The duo explained the reason for switching to the new digital system.

Mulhern said that Karib Cable switched from an analog system to digital because the company wants progress. At the same time, it wants to keep up with world standards, offer more capacity on the network, address the theft of service issue, and be able to keep up with the company’s technology partners.

Regarding keeping up with world standards, Mulhern said the analog Dalvi Box system previously used by Karib Cable created limitations for the services provided because it only allowed a certain band width and the company had reached its capacity with that.

“Analog channels take a lot more bandwidth than digital compression signals, all more the reason for the box,” said Mulhern.

Mulhern said Karib Cable wants to provide its customers with as many choices as possible and having reached the maximum 75 channels available on the analog system, the next best option was to go digital.

He said the digital television system allows the company to offer up to 350 channels over the same bandwidth space used previously with the analog system.

On the issue of theft, Mulhern said Karib Cable has discovered cases where persons purchase the service and connect it to other houses.

He said even without concrete evidence that the service is being stolen, one only had to compare St.Vincent and the Grenadines to Antigua, where Karib Cable has another company.

“There are more subscribers in Antigua with cable television there than there are here. That should strike you as a little bit strange because we have a greater population here in St.Vincent and currently the GDP has fallen behind the same,” said Mulhern. He said it begs the question, “Where are all of our subscribers in St.Vincent?

“What is the alternative? They are either not subscribing to us or there is some theft. If we are 50 per cent right, we are still very, very right,” said Mulhern.

He said persons who wish to have more than one outlet in their homes would have the choice of purchasing an extra digital box or renting one from Karib Cable.

Mulhern said the agreement with the government was to provide 10 channels, but Karib Cable never stuck to that and has provided a lot more channels over the past 13 years.

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