Categorized | Featured, National News

BTC Monopoly Ends

There could soon be a lot of competition flooding the local mobile services market now that The Bahamas Telecommunications Company’s (BTC) monopoly has come to an end, the prime minister hinted yesterday.

Prime Minister Perry Christie’s remarks on the markets’ liberalisation came as he delivered the keynote address at the 3rd International Caribbean Financial Services Forum yesterday.

Mr. Christie veered off topic to address BTC’s monopoly extinction after the conference experienced brief technical difficulties while trying to establish a video link with the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

“Let me remind the country that effective tomorrow or at midnight tonight the government of The Bahamas is free and is at liberty to proceed with liberalisation of the communications sector so that those of you who are stuck with one provider could anticipate having the options very shortly.”

Mr. Christie declined to comment more on the matter telling reporters that he will release more information today.

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

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

The deal prompted a number of protests from various sectors in society demanding the majority of shares be returned to Bahamians.

During the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) 2012 election campaign, the party promised to have the majority shares returned to Bahamians.

Earlier this year, after much negotiations, the prime minister announced that the government had been successful in regaining a majority share in the company.

As a part of this new deal both CWC and the government recieved 49 per cent equity stakes in BTC with the remaining two per cent being transferred to a newly created foundation for the benefit of the Bahamian people.

However, CWC will retain Board and management control of the telecommunications company.

There have been ongoing complaints from the public in regards to the overall service of BTC relating to the high volume of dropped calls.

Recently BTC experienced a black out as prepaid mobile users had no service up to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and post-paid mobile services became fully operational after 8:00 p.m. Saturday.

Officials from the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) told the Journal on Sunday that they will compensate customers for the disruption in service to landline, mobile and Internet devices.

Recently, The company’s former CEO Leon Williams has been appointed a special adviser to BTC Chairman and Chief Executive of Cable and Wireless Communications (C&WC) Phil Bentley.

As special adviser, Mr. Williams will advise Mr. Bentley on local affairs and telecommunications issues in The Bahamas and the wider Caribbean region.

Other telephone providers have expressed interest in providing cell phone services in The Bahamas including Cable Bahamas which has previously stated its interest in tapping into the mobile market but has given no time frame.

Regional mobile provider Digicel also expressed interest in joining the market.

BTC has stated that it welcomes competition and sees it as a good means of improving overall customer service.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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