Competition needed to drive down our rates
I have been contacted by a number of people with regard to the recent op-ed about mobile rates and roaming rates.
Clearly, a cross-section of Bermudians have experienced frustration with having to pay one of the highest data rates in the Caribbean region. Perhaps, one of the highest rates, in the entire western hemisphere.
One of the first tenets of journalism is to check various sources for verifiable information and to be able to cite those sources in ones presentation.
So, for full transparency, much of the information presented today will come from Digicels very own website.
Digicel is the largest mobile network in the region over the past 20 years.
It operates in almost every Caribbean country, ranging from large islands such as Jamaica, where the home office is domiciled, to a small island such as Anguilla.
Interestingly enough, their mobile data rates vary from island to island.
Here is a detailed breakdown of the very best rates offered, island by island in US dollars.
Aruba: unlimited for $110
Antigua & Barbuda: 7 GB for $50 or $7 per GB
Barbados: 15 GB for $100 or $7 per GB
Bermuda: 16 GB for $199 or $12 per GB
Bonaire: 18 GB for $100 or $5 per GB
British Virgin Islands: 5 GB for $75 or $15 per GB
Cayman Islands: 8 GB for $125 or $16 per GB
Dominica: 15 GB for $90 or $6 per GB
Grenada: 20 GB for $110 or $5.50 per GB
Jamaica: 20 GB for $100 or $5 per GB
Montserrat: 15 GB for $70 or $5 per GB
St Vincent: 30 GB for $110 or $4 per GB
St Lucia: 50 GB for $115 or $2.20 per GB
St Kitts: 30 GB for $90 or $3 per GB
Trinidad & Tobago: unlimited for $100
Turks & Caicos: 12 GB for $168 or $14 per GB
As we can see, the rates vary from island to island.
One would think, or hope, that with such a wide network of millions of customers, there could be one standard rate of reasonable pricing offered to loyal clients.
Going further, lets look at some mobile rates in North America, Central America and South America
T-Mobile: unlimited for $85
Bahamas: 15 GB for $70 or 4.70 per GB
Rogers Canada: 40 GB for $210 or $5 per GB
I must confess, I do not have a degree in telecommunications, or know how their rates are calculated. Perhaps, it is some MIT-like calculus that is used in formulating which island pays what fee.
However, what I do know from the information is that Bermudians are paying some of the highest data rates on this side of the world.
Many Bermudians are rightly asking what the Government is going to do about this.
At present, mobile and internet providers fall under the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda. As of April 2019, the Bermuda Government has lifted the moratorium on how many companies can provide these services.
Simply put, the Government has opened the door to other providers.
With increased competition or the threat of increased competition, there must be a lowering of rates that are being charged.
Bermuda should not hold the dubious record of one of the most expensive places in the world to use mobile data.
Christopher Famous is a government back bencher and the MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at email@example.com
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