by Linda Straker
Mr Lawrence Samuel, Coordinator of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC), has disclosed that the decision by FLOW to inform customers that its broadband services cost will increase of 1 November 2015, is not in keeping with the existing legislation which governs the adjusting of tariffs.
Lawrence told an open forum discussion on Thursday, that SRO 54 of 2014 provides all the guidelines to be followed when a telecommunication provider wants to increase the price of all services, and those steps were not followed. “Instead what was provided was information, not a proposal. But according to the law they have an obligation to submit a proposal for approval and to provide proper justification for any increase,” he said.
On Wednesday, a number of customers of FLOW’s broadband services received a message by email and telephone call, thanking them for their continue patronage and at the same informing them that the monthly cost for the 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 email which was signed by Acting Country Manager Claudette James–Newton.
Providing details on the new cost, the email explained that the new price structure will see Turbo 12 – costing EC$99.99 (VAT inclusive); and 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 the message which also directed customers to “Please contact us at 800-FLOW (3569) or email email@example.com if you have a query regarding this change.”
However, Samuel said that the SRO gives the NTRC certain powers and there must be justification for any price increase. “It cannot be a case of justification all willy nilly, what we saw was documentation as a matter of information and not for an approval,” he told the session, which was held as part of activities in observance of the NTRC 15th Anniversary.
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 state 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.