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Telecoms regulator striving to improve sector, ensure fair treatment of customers

Telecoms regulator striving to improve sector, ensure fair treatment of customers

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The National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) is always striving to improve the telecommunications sector in St Vincent and the Grenadines, while making sure that providers treat consumers fairly.{{more}}

This point was made by accountant at the NTRC Rohand Charles on October 11, while addressing persons during an NTRC community discussion forum, which was held at the Stephanie Browne Government School on Union Island.

The community discussion was held under the theme, “Are you having issues with telecommunications services being provided by LIME, Digicel or Karib Cable?”. Community discussions have so far been held in Bequia, Canouan, Mayreau and various part of mainland St Vincent.

Addressing the gathering of close to 30 people, Charles said that the NTRC has been instrumental in helping settle disputes between the various telecommunications providers, while a number of NTRC initiatives have helped to improve the quality of the telecommunications services provided in the multi-island state.

He said that on Union Island itself, there has been the introduction of a number of cell towers that have better helped to improve the cellular phone service on Union Island.

Charles, however, stressed that while there have been improvements in the service, some of the prices that persons have to pay for certain services, “are not what we would like them to be…but we have made progress compared to 10 years ago and the mobile phones that are used by regular persons are advanced technology, compared to what we could have afforded 10 years ago.

“We also monitor and report on the quality of service provided and from time to time we go around to make sure that the service provided is up to par…we also sssist in resolving telecommunications disputes and part of our function is to ensure that users are treated fairly, as we ensure fair practices”, said Charles.

“We make telecommunications available to the entire population and we have definitely seen advancement”.

He said that while there are sometimes disputes over pricing and services offered, the fact remains that telecommunications services are readily available to the public and persons in some instances, “have gone from spinning an antennae outside to get channels, to being able to access a number of channels…so we have definitely seen advancement”.

Charles said that the telecommunications act of 2001 established the NTRC and since then the organization has been doing its best to improve the lives of Vincentians, whether through its settling of disputes or its administration of the Universal Service Fund (USF).

Explaining the USF, Charles said that the USF is one per cent of the gross revenue contributed to the fund by telecommunications providers. The USF was launched locally on Tuesday, May 5th 2009, at the conference room of the National Insurance Services (NIS) by the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC). He said that the USF is used to compensate any telecommunications provider who is required to provide or promote Universal Service, which includes, “the provision of public voice telephony, Internet access, telecommunications services to schools, hospitals and similar institutions and other services by which people access efficient, affordable and modern telecommunications”.

The NTRC also is also funded by license and radio frequency fees, collected from the various radio stations and maritime mobile radios.

“These fees go towards the development of St Vincent and the Grenadines”, said Charles who also spoke about the introduction locally of a Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), which allows a vessel in distress at sea to send out an SOS signal just by pressing a button on a VHF radio. The GMDSS was officially launched on Tuesday, October 2nd.

The accountant also used the opportunity to encourage persons to come to the NTRC when they encounter problems with any of the service providers, while adding that persons wanting more info on the NTRC can go to www.ntrc.vc .

The forum also heard from USF administrator Kyron Duncan.

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