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LIME, Digicel Mobile Termination Rate deal gone sour

LIME, Digicel Mobile Termination Rate deal gone sour


It seems as though the National Telecommunications Regulatory Committee will have to step in to settle the latest conflict between two of this country’s rival telecommunications providers: Digicel and LIME.{{more}}

This, after LIME general manager Leslie Jack has said “No Deal” to the latest agreement, which seeks to set the Mobile Termination Rate (MTR) between the two companies.

The MTR is the charge that is incurred when a mobile phone call is transferred from one mobile network to another mobile network, or from a landline to a competing mobile network.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that the old agreement between the two companies has recently expired, and negotiators representing both parties met, and are believed to have ironed out a new deal.

“We have actually done negotiations with LIME at a group level,” Digicel’s country manager Sean Latty told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday.

“We’ve actually sent it to Mr Jack to sign, and he has come back with just some feedback on the agreement, and it is now with LIME for signing. So, the process is being slightly delayed on their side,” Latty said.

Jack, on the other hand, told SEARCHLIGHT that he was not willing to sign the agreement, because there was no real change to the previous rate, which moved from 0.2413 cents to 0.241 cents.

“The negotiations were between carrier services, which generally act as an independent body to negotiate rates on behalf of LIME,” Jack explained.

“Yes, an agreement was reached between carrier services and Digicel, but the contract has to be signed by me, and based on details, I do not agree with the current MTR that exists and I have responded to both carrier services and to Digicel, putting the matter back to them, saying for me the matter is not closed, we should renegotiate on the rates.

“I am not signing that contract,” he stated.

Jack said that he did not have a problem with the MTR being cut to as much as half of what it is currently.

A decrease in the MTR is usually welcomed by consumers, who expect that with the service providers paying less to each other, the savings would work its way down to the retail cost of making phone calls.

While both managers agree that a decrease in the MTR could also mean a dip in retail costs, they indicated that this may not necessarily be the case, but consumers can, and are currently experiencing benefits.

“The inter-connective agreement does not speak to the changing of (retail) rates per se; it’s just the one element of it,” Latty, who had taken up the Digicel post here in April, said.

“What I can say, is that we are currently offering quite a few value offers in the marketplace, so that even if the initial cost does not go down, every month and every day, we have several value offers in the marketplace reserved for our corporate and regular consumers also,” he added.

“The idea about not passing on all the savings to the customer is this: some of the savings we do get back, we utilize it to invest in other areas of the business, like the fixed line network and the broadband network,” Jack offered.

“So, at the end of the day, the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines benefit overall: they get lower rates and they are get better services in different areas.”

Jack said that he is hopeful that the current impasse would not reach to the country’s regulatory body (NTRC), and that the two companies could come to an amicable solution soon, for the benefit of all consumers.

“If you are talking about Cable and Wireless having transformed to the new LIME, today we are seeing the competitor operating in the old manner of colonial days.”(JJ)