We should demand higher speed at lower prices
November 25, 2013
In today's (November 25th) Letters to the Editor, UNITED wrote about the internet in Bermuda. I'd like to try to add to the subject as I am the Chairman of the independent regulator of the telecommunication industry in Bermuda.
The writer said “the monopoly between BTC and Cablevision must be broken,” but perhaps doesn't realise that the Regulatory Authority granted licenses in April 2013 to 20 Bermuda firms that break that dominance in a way, by allowing any of them to build infrastructure to the home. Only BTC and Bermuda CableVision have spent the millions needed to physically connect to our homes, and it is not likely that many others are going to make that huge investment for such a small number of customers. But there is considerable work being done at the moment to ensure that BTC and Bermuda CableVision make their networks available to all other firms on a fair and equitable basis and at pricing that is correct in the circumstances. Neither of these firms would want to see its market shares decline so it is appropriate that they compete against each other on a level playing field = to the collective benefit of us all. Both firms have been co-operative in this effort.
UNITED laments that 25 MG is the top internet speed in Bermuda. As of today that is true, but higher speeds are coming. It is not up to the Regulatory Authority to tell firms to provide higher speeds. Instead, it is up to the consumers to demand these speeds and push the firms to react. Our recent survey (on our website at www.rab.bm) indicated that only 3% of us have a 25 MG connection to the internet. Sure price is a reason, but if more of us demand higher speeds at lower prices from our providers, why wouldn't they react? They want the business! We believe that market forces will work in Bermuda and that is why we have worked so hard here at the RA to produce a level playing field for the industry.
UNITED should not forget that although speeds have not dramatically increased recently, Bermuda's ISP prices have plummeted since the ICOL licenses were issued only seven short months ago.
The Regulatory Authority is well aware of the common complaint that ISP speeds are not always what people are paying for and UNITED is right to remind us of it. We plan to tackle this one next year as part of a major consumer protection initiative we will be embarking on.
Thanks, UNITED, for writing about telecommunications — If anyone is interested, our web site is full of our decisions, our thinking into those decisions and the industry's reaction to our decisions. Any member of the RA staff is available to discuss any issue you'd like to talk about. Give us a call — our numbers are on the web site, including mine.
D. Kent Stewart
Chairman — RA