by Linda Straker
Legal Affairs Minister Elvin Nimrod believes that after the decision by a telecommunications provider to not go through the legislation procedures to get approval for a request to increase the price for its services, its customers should use their discretion when the time comes to pay the increase.
“It’s not deserving of being honoured,” Nimrod replied, when asked if customers should pay the new price as of 1 November.
“NTRC has not received any proposal for such a request,” he added, while explaining that the regulation requires that any telecommunications provider who wants to adjust its price structure must first get approval from the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC).
On Wednesday, Lawrence Samuel, Coordinator of the NTRC, confirmed that a proposal is yet to be received from FLOW with regard to the new price. He recently told a forum that the decision by FLOW to inform customers that its broadband services cost will increase as of 1 November 2015, is not in keeping with the existing legislation which governs the adjustment of tariffs.
SRO 54 of 2014 provides the guidelines to be followed when a telecommunications provider wants to increase the price of services, and those steps were not followed. Samuel said that the SRO gives the NTRC certain powers, and there must be justification for any price increase.
Part III of SRO 54 of 2014 which is entitled “POWERS OF THE COMMISSION” says that the NTRC shall have the authority to regulate the rates, terms and conditions of telecommunications services offered by a telecommunications provider. The rules also said that the Commission shall have the authority to: set, review and approve tariffs for any telecommunications services and require the publication of all tariffs for telecommunications services, whether regulated or unregulated.
FLOW, in a notice to all customers, said the monthly cost for broadband service will increase as of 1 November. “Thank you for your continued patronage as a FLOW Broadband customer. As your preferred telecommunications provider, we strive to deliver the highest level of service at the most competitive price. To ensure we continue to offer an enhanced level of service and the best Broadband experience to you, effective November 1st, 2015, there will be a price adjustment in your FLOW residential broadband package,” said the letter which was signed by Acting Country Manager Claudette James–Newton.
Providing details on the new cost, the letter explained that the new price structure will see Turbo 12 – costing EC$99.99 (Vat inclusive) while Turbo 20 – EC$149.00 (Vat inclusive). “With this adjustment, our broadband speeds continue to be the fastest on the island, at the best rate,” said a notice located at the entry of its main office in St George’s.
Nimrod said that the law is very clear on what has to be done for an increase to happen, and as it stands presently, no proposal was received and customers should be aware of the requirement as declared in the regulation as of 2014.