One CEO: regulator’s statement misleading’
A furious telecommunications chief has hit back at a “misleading” statement by the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda that branded his firm as “anti-consumer and anti-competitive”.
Frank Amaral, CEO of One Communications, hit out after regulators knocked back an application to charge termination fees of between $200 and $500 for residential internet and broadband customers, as well as retail TV customers.
But Mr Amaral said the charges were linked to a bid to introduce a promotion which offered three months’ free service on condition the consumer signed up for a 12-month contract — with any fees only applying to the special offer, which RAB failed to mention in their statement.
Mr Amaral added: “The whole thing is very misleading — in this press release they have chosen to pick out, I guess, the worst parts of what we had applied for.
“What we applied for was to have the ability to match promotional offers from our competitors with regards to TV and internet and more specifically we wanted to offer customers up to three months free service in return for the customer committing to 12 months’ service.
“You will note the Regulatory Authority doesn’t bother to say we’re trying to offer that three-month promotion.”
And Mr Amaral said that regular customers at One Communications retained the option to cancel service with 30 days’ notice and no penalties.
He added: “This was only in relation to a promotional offer to match competitors’ offers. We don’t have any termination fees — we actually give people a chance to cancel subscriptions on 30 days’ notice.
“What they’re really misleading about is we’re only seeking to offer a promotion.”
The telecommunications regulator yesterday branded the proposed termination fees for residential internet and broadband customers, as well as retail TV customers as “both anti-consumer and anti-competitive”.
A spokesman for the regulator added it has also rejected “a proposal by One to exercise a method of determining its retail prices, that the Authority viewed as predatory pricing against market entrants and anti-competitive”.
The spokesman added: “The authority has a responsibility to safeguard the interests of consumers, as well as to promote and safeguard competition.
“The authority’s actions of today are consistent with these responsibilities and the Authority is ready to intervene further should it be necessary.”
But Mr Amaral said: “What you see happening here is the Regulatory Authority is saying one thing to the public and ignoring a lot of the substance of what we were talking about to them.”
And he asked: “How does someone call matching a competitors’ offer ‘predatory’?”
He added that One Communications fibre-optic product, now in the market, only had its tariffs approved in May after six months of negotiations with the regulator.
Mr Amaral said: “It took six months getting these tariffs approved and these tariffs have benefited every consumer on the island.”
The Regulatory Authority release came after One Communications launched a Supreme Court bid to get a ruling that the RAB had failed to fulfil its statutory duty to compete a market review by the end of April — so it should lose its rights to impose regulations on the industry.
An affidavit by Mr Amaral submitted to the court said that market conditions and services had “changed dramatically” since the last market review four years ago — which was based on data collected even earlier.
The separate application to the court said the rules and regulations imposed without up-to-date information on the sector was “the policy equivalent of regulating the sector blindfolded.”
Mr Amaral declined to comment on whether he thought the tone of the RAB release had been influenced by the company’s legal action as the matter is still being considered by Supreme Court.
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