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RA plans to scrap price comparison website

The Regulatory Authority has proposed scrapping a price comparison website for phone and internet services in Bermuda.

It is seeking public input on whether the website is needed in a consultation period that ends on April 12.

In a consultation document posted on its website, the RA details its decision to decommission the website, www.pricecheck.bm, citing dwindling use by the public and less need for the site, because there are fewer service providers.

Maintenance costs of $26,000 a year are “disproportionate to any ‘transparency' benefits that are achieved for consumers” by the website, the RA argues.

The purpose of the website, which was launched in 2015, was to improve transparency in the pricing of telecommunications services, and related terms and conditions, to enable the public to make more informed decisions and comparisons between services.

At the time the website was launched there were ten companies offering electronic communications services, the RA states.

The market consolidation that has taken place since means that “mobile, television and broadband market share is now primarily serviced by two sectoral providers (OneComm and Digicel Group) who maintain comparable rates and plans”, the report adds.

“Furthermore, the Authority has observed that sectoral providers have gone to great lengths to ensure that their service and tariff information is easily accessible on their websites,” the RA states.

The price-check website was little used in the nine months after its launch at the end of March 2015, with just 256 visits. Usage picked up in the calendar years 2016, when there were 4,437 visits and 2017, when visits totalled 5,017. In 2018, utilisation dropped by more than half, as there were 2,018 visits.

The consultation invites answers to questions on the accessibility of service tariff rates, recommendations on how service providers can be more transparent in their pricing and conditions for services such as roaming charges, and whether an independent price comparison tool is necessary.

The consultation period opened on March 29, when the document was posted on the RA's website, www.rab.bm. No press release on the request for public feedback was received by The Royal Gazette at that time or since. The deadline for responses is Friday this week.

The RA has a separate consultation on opening up the telecommunications sector to new service providers by lifting the moratorium on the issuing of new licences. That consultation closes on April 26.

To see both consultation documents, look under the heading of Related Media on this webpage, or visit the RA website at www.rab.bm

Seeking public views: the Regulatory Authority

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Published April 08, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated April 08, 2019 at 9:19 am)

RA plans to scrap price comparison website

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