Cable Co and CellOne announce new international long distance offering
KeyTech yesterday announced the launch of a new long distance service for cell phone users, igniting a fresh war of words with Digicel.
KeyTech said its subsidiary Cable Co was launching international long distance (ILD) for CellOne’s mobile customers.
CellOne, in which KeyTech holds a 42 percent stake, said customers could get rates as low 9 cents a minute for overseas calls.
Digicel Bermuda responded last night saying that while it “welcomes” CellOne’s entry into the ILD market, CellOne had “performed a legal backflip worthy of an Olympic athlete”.
In a statement, Digicel said it was “very surprised at this move by CellOne, given the deafening howls of protest voiced publicly by CellOne to the very same type of service as launched by Digicel/Transact in September of last year”.
The Digicel/Transact service is at the centre of a legal dispute involving several of the Island’s telecoms providers, which is currently on hold while the Telecoms Commission considers it.
Digicel said as a result of yesterday’s announcement, it assumed CellOne “will immediately” take steps to provide interconnection to allow their cell phone subscribers “the freedom of choice” to select Digicel/Transact’s long distance service.
“To date, CellOne has refused to do so,” Digicel said.
KeyTech CEO Sheila Lines said yesterday the new ILD service was Cable Co’s first retail product.
“This pairs Class A carrier Cable Co; noted for investing $26 million in the creation of the undersea cable link ‘Challenger’ from Bermuda to the USA; and CellOne the Island’s largest cellular service provider,” said Ms Lines, also director of Cable Co. “This marks Cable Co’s first retail service product as we look to continuously build upon the services afforded to us under our licence. We are delighted to be working with CellOne on this launch.”
CellOne COO Frank Amaral said the new service will offer subscribers “the best value” in long distance services.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with Cable Co. CellOne subscribers will benefit from having the most choice and the best value in ILD services, with the convenience of having one bill and a single point of contact. It’s a win for CellOne customers,” Mr Amaral said.
Plans include a pay-per-use with rates of nine cents per minute and unlimited calling starting at just $19.95 per month. There are no contracts and customers sign-up directly with CellOne.
Digicel’s North America Unlimited plan costs $19.95 per month.
CellOne, and other telecoms providers are currently involved in a legal dispute over Digicel/Transact’s long distance service for cell phone customers.
Digicel is battling CellOne to provide interconnection for the new Digicel long distance service, provided by sister company Transact.
Government and long distance provider TBI, meanwhile, have objected to the service.
But Digicel has insisted its long distance service is lawful and that it and sister company Transact have acted and are acting wholly within the terms of their respective licences.
The court proceedings have been stayed while the Telecoms Commission considers the dispute. The Commission was expected to make a decision this month.
In its statement last night, Digicel said: “Indeed, CellOne played a leading role in the concerted and highly visible campaign of opposition to the Digicel/Transact service that was conducted among various telecommunications providers in Bermuda such as CellOne, TeleBermuda and North Rock.
“CellOne has today performed a legal backflip worthy of an Olympic athlete. However, CellOne’s former comrades in opposition to Digicel will undoubtedly be less than pleased at having been so ruthlessly abandoned. There will now be one less familiar face decrying Digicel’s actions.
“In addition to playing a central role in this vitriolic PR/Media campaign, CellOne have at all times refused to allow interconnection between CellOne and Digicel/Transact. This refusal was stated to be on the basis that the provision of direct dial ILD to mobile subscribers in this manner was unlawful and contrary to Government policy in Bermuda.
“CellOne have consistently and forcibly opposed the Transact ILD service on this basis both before the Supreme Court and before the Telecommunications Commission.
“Today, it would seem that CellOne has recognised the fallacy and hopelessness of the positions adopted by them in the legal proceedings to date which are obviously baseless, cynically motivated and ill-conceived.
“CellOne have now seen the light. However, abandoning their legal position in such dramatic circumstances is likely to have serious costs consequences for CellOne in those legal proceedings. Digicel shall address this particular matter as appropriate and before the correct forum.”
Digicel CEO Wayne Caines added: “Digicel welcomes CellOne’s entry into the ILD market and we look forward to vigorously competing in the marketplace with them.
“We would ask though why it is that CellOne fought us tooth and nail, at enormous expense, through the legal process based on legal positions and principles that it has now abandoned. This will obviously need to be addressed in due course, but for now, Digicel is happy to meet CellOne head on in the marketplace.
“Digicel was confident that the launch of the Digicel/Transact ILD service would invigorate the marketplace for the benefit of consumers. Today’s development is further proof that Digicel was right in this regard”.