Categorized | Business, National News

BTC Customers Urged to Stay

Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) CEO Phil Bentley on Friday urged Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) customers to not switch to a new mobile and internet service provider once the industry is liberalised next year.

Mr. Bentley’s comments came during a luncheon with government officials and government representatives at the Balmoral Club on Friday to officially celebrate the end of all legalities to transfer two per cent shareholding in BTC from CWC to the BTC’s Foundation for the Bahamian people.

Mr. Bentley urged Bahamians to support a company like BTC in contributing to its future success – as it will not only benefit the company but Bahamians as well.

“So let’s not forget how we should judge success in this historic agreement – the more successful BTC is, the more that will be paid into the BTC Foundation to support good causes,” he said.

“So please, customers of BTC, don’t switch to a new entrant, will a new entrant spend $170 million in The Bahamas? Will a new entrant invest in Abaco and Andros and Cat Island and Crooked Island and Mayguana and Inagua, and connect all the Family Islands? Will a new entrant work with union partners? So I say this to you, don’t let the new entrant prosper at the expense of BTC and don’t let the BTC Foundation lose out on funding good causes.”

This plea to BTC customers to remain loyal follows mounting complaints of drop calls, service disruptions and other issues.

However, Mr. Bentley assured that millions of dollars will be invested towards dramatically improving the services BTC offers within the next three years.

As the company moves forward into a competitive market, Mr. Bentley also urged the government to promote a good investment climate.

“We must have the confidence in fair regulation – nothing does more to shatter confidence than unfair regulatory rulings,” he said.

“We must have efficient importation laws and taxes – some countries have lowered duties on smart phones to encourage take up and I’d encourage the same response in the Bahamas. We must also have the flexibility to engage the services of international specialist to provide the local training to get the job done on the island. I hear the phrase “Bahamas for the Bahamians” – but it can’t be. The world is now a global village. It’s “The Bahamas for the world” and the “the world for The Bahamas.”

Prime Minister Perry Christie said he hopes to usher in competition for the mobile market as soon as possible, as he seeks to grant a third cellular license by 2016 if the market allows it.

In the meantime, he urged BTC to brace for competition and expressed confidence in the company being ready.

“Phil Bentley knows that when the cell license is issued, whoever wins it will be coming in here lowering the prices, incredibly tough campaigns they’ll launch showing their better, so he’s only preparing himself for what’s to come,” he said.

“A particular company I know wins this selection process, they will be coming here with might and resources unseen so it’s going to be wonderful for us to be given a choice going forward.”

Mr. Christie recently revealed that he has appointed a special taskforce to supervise the process of granting a new cellular license to one of the four companies that have expressed interest in entering the mobile telecommunications market.

Before any final decision is made, the taskforce’s recommendations will need the approval of the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA).

BTC was privatised after the Free National Movement (FNM) administration sold 51 per cent of the company to CWC in April of 2011.

Under the agreement, BTC was given a three-year monopoly on the mobile market.

After a marathon of negotiations the government gained majority Bahamian ownership.

During the luncheon Friday the BTC Foundation was officially launched as well.

In an effort to kick things off, BTC donated $1 million to the BTC Foundation.

Mr. Bentley said the foundation will help to fund the artistic abilities of young Bahamians among other benefits adding that he feels very humble and privileged to play a small part towards supporting the giant ambitions of The Bahamas.

Under the deal CWC will transfer $5,093.200 to the BTC Foundation.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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