The ECTEL Council of Ministers met in St Lucia on Thursday, 4 December 2014, to discuss the proposed merger between Cable and Wireless Communications PLC, and Columbus Communications Ltd.
The council noted that, while applications were made in other territories and it has been informed of the proposed merger, no application has been made in any OECS country where the market will be affected. These countries are Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Notwithstanding the markets in Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis will not be affected, these countries supported the decisions taken by the council.
The ministers affirmed that due process must be followed in the treatment of the proposed merger and have agreed to suspend the announcement of a new Price Cap Plan until after the completion of the review of the applications from the parties involved, after which the Price Cap will be amended accordingly.
In addition, ECTEL will undertake an analysis of the impact of the proposed merger in the OECS working in conjunction with the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT).
In the review of the proposed merger, the ministers noted that potential new scenarios will emerge where monopolies or near monopolies will exist in the provision of fixed network services, which will have an impact on both residential and business consumers and would also affect the provision of subscriber cable television.
To protect consumers, the Council of Ministers – the highest organ of ECTEL, mandated that the regulatory obligation related to the change of license with the onset of such reduction in competition be strictly adhered to; and that new license granted provide for fair competition.
In the process, the ministers identified the need to ensure that ECTEL member states enjoy new and innovative services in ICT and Telecommunications at affordable rates to all consumers. They also vowed to ensure that the region benefits from world-class services enjoyed by consumers in other countries regionally and globally.
The ministers further commit to working with their respective government agencies to ensure that legislations as the Competition Commission now being discussed are speedily finalized and put into effect to address the current situation and any similar proposal in the future.
Grenada was represented at the meeting by the minister with responsibility for telecommunications, Hon. Gregory Bowen, who is also the current chair of ECTEL Council of Ministers.