How to Squeeze a Lime

Submitted by Bush Tea
Jeff Cumberbatch - New Chairman of the FTC

Jeff Cumberbatch – New Chairman of the FTC

Life is really not as complex as many make it out to be. In the final analysis, we find ourselves existing on a big rock which is spinning wildly through space at ridiculous speed, somehow managing to (so far) miss the millions of other rocks and other objects also speeding randomly through the same damn space.

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Submitted by David Weekes

Dear Mrs. Sealy,
I write with reference to your response to my matter at caption – your reference #  4/14/20 (447). The reason that I have written is because i am so absolutely disappointed by your findings.

Miss Emily Ronalds, the Abbey School circa 1965 taught using the Royal Reader series (You should know it well, you attended that institution) She once told our class a story of “The Fox who was guarding the chickens” and these many years hence I am unfortunately reminded of this anecdote.

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IS LIME Exempt from the Laws of Barbados? Even the Barbados Courts Can’t Constrain Them!

Submitted by David Weekes
LIME customer service questioned.

LIME customer service questioned.

I would be grateful if you would publish this for me.

Last year around September 26th 2014 after going to Surepay to pay a bill, a conversation with a Surepay attendant led me to review all my bills and services with LIME. Suffice it to say, I found that I had overpaid LIME close to$100,000 over the past 10 years for phone lines that had been withdrawn for close to five years, other services I no longer had, data plans that were oversized, even though I had writing for 7 years asking for them to be properly sized and a number of issues that form 11 pages in an affidavit.

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LIME’s Operations Must be AUDITED

News out of Jamaica this week is that LIME has to pay Digicel more than J$1.5 billion dollars for wrongly withholding money for calls from LIME’s fixed line subscribers to Digicel mobile phones. This is not the first time the regulators have had to arbitrate to force telecommunications companies in the region to do the honest thing. All the while LIME, Digicel and the others push the message of being good corporate citizens.

Have we, Barbadian consumers, ever wondered who is championing our rights? In the same way LIME and Digicel who are always at each other’s throats to demand their rights – what about the consumers? The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) and other bodies have been created with supporting legislation to safeguard consumer interest as well as the Utilities but one gets the impression after several years that the system is not responding to citizens in the same way it does for the utilities.  What are consumers to do in the circumstances? Our politicians have no motivation to change anything because they are puppets of these corporate marauders. We have a non existent consumer body. Our citizens are lazy and see no need to forcefully demonstrate against the system. Some will say we deserve being chaffed.

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Vote NO to Cable & Wireless Columbus Merger

The Fair Training Commission (FTC) is advising on its website that on the 24 November, 2014 an application was received from Cable & Wireless Communications Plc and Columbus International Inc seeking permission to merge the local subsidiaries (C&W and LIME) in Barbados in accordance with Section 20 (7) of the Fair Competition Act.

Pursuant to its remit the FTC has invited “all service providers, businesses, representatives of consumer groups, non-governmental organisations, residential consumers and all other parties with an interest in this matter, to submit their comments on the merits or demerits of the proposed merge”.

The FTC has attracted strong criticism from the general public because it is perceived as an entity that is pro utilities in its rulings. The public has an opportunity to participate in an online survey under the cloak of anonymity – see survey as well as to share concerns about the proposed merger of LIME and C&W in Barbados.

Barbados Underground is firmly of the view a merger of the two entities will bring monopoly into play, again. Further, it makes a mockery of the decision to deregulate the local market which has allowed Digicel and other players to introduce competition to the local market. We therefore vote NO to the proposed merger.

C&W FLOW Merger: All Eyes on the Regulator

Submitted by Anthony Davis
Chairman of Cable & Wireless Sir Richard Lapthorne

Chairman of Cable & Wireless Sir Richard Lapthorne

It may not have the blessing of regional regulators and even consumers at this stage, but shareholders of Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), the parent of LIME, today voted overwhelmingly in favour of the merger with Columbus International Inc., operator of the consumer brand, Flow” – Barbados Today

Once again the former colonial masters – in the form of the CWC shareholders – are seeking to put their former slaves – in the form of the regulators of the various Caribbean countries – back in shackles. How else is one to interpret the words of CWC’s Chairman Sir Richard Lapthorne when he sees it as a foregone conclusion that, if the shareholders in Britain – which it takes an 8.5 hour flight to get to – have voted for this juggernaut,  the regulators here must only ask how high when the shareholders say to jump.

I find it an affront to the dignity and intelligence of the people of the Caribbean that he could come to such a conclusion without any of the regulators having made a decision. In Britain there are still persons who think that Barbados is part of Jamaica, and I have a big problem with that.

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Cable & Wireless Tied to Government Surveillance Program

 the latest documents reveal the actual names of the cables the NSA and GCHQ had access to as of 2009 as well as their “egress” speed—the volume of data that the agencies could pull from the cables.

...the latest documents reveal the actual names of the cables the NSA and GCHQ had access to as of 2009 as well as their “egress” speed—the volume of data that the agencies could pull from the cables...

The news Cable & Wireless has acquired Columbus has generated a lot of discussion across the Caribbean. How it translates in Barbados – if the Fair Training Commission agrees – the local Internet/broadband market will revert to a monopoly with a merger of LIME and FLOW. Barbadian consumers were promised competition in a deregulated telecommunications market, now we have gone full circle. One wonders therefore what is the purpose of the Fair Trading Commission.

There is another reason to be sceptical of Cable & Wireless.

According to a report in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the telecommunications company Cable & Wireless—now a subsidiary of Vodafone—“actively shaped and provided the most data to GCHQ surveillance programs and received millions of pounds in compensation.”

The relationship was so extensive that a GCHQ employee was assigned to work full time at Cable & Wireless (referred to by the code name “Gerontic” in NSA documents) to manage cable-tap projects in February of 2009. By July of 2009, Cable & Wireless provided access to 29 out of the 63 cables on the list, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the data capacity available to surveillance programs…

It’s not clear from the documents whether any of the 63 cable taps on the GCHQ list are NSA-provided, though a number of them have US landfalls—including Pacific cables connecting from the US to Japan and China and a number of cables serving the Caribbean, South, and Central America.

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LIME eBilling


Submitted by Anthony Davis

LIME is assuming that every household has a computer or smartphone. There are many people who cannot afford any of the two. There are also the poor, the needy, and the vulnerable, and many old age pensioners who will NOT be able to pay any additional fees at this time. This seems to me to be the first of LIME’s volleys as the new monopoly in the telecommunications sector in Barbados!

I don’t think that the FTC should allow LIME to take such a unilateral step!

Submitted by Anthony Davis LIME is assuming that every household has a computer or smartphone. There are many people who cannot afford any of the two. There are also the poor, the needy, and the vulnerable, and many old age pensioners who will NOT be able to pay any additional fees at this time. This seems to me to be the first of LIME's volleys as the new monopoly in the telecommunications sector in Barbados! I don't think that the FTC should allow LIME to take such a unilateral step!


Submitted by Anthony Davis
Donville Inniss - Minister of Commerce, and International Business going with the FLOW

Donville Inniss – Minister of Commerce, and International Business going with the FLOW

Minister of Commerce Danville Inniss says he is not troubled by the proposed merger of Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) and Columbus International Inc., which trade here as LIME and FLOW respectively. However, an issue which is of great importance and should be addressed, he said, was the lack of regulation of all services provided by telecommunications companiesBarbados Today

Minister Inniss, you need not be “distracted by the talk around the LIME and Columbus merger” because you already know how your bread is buttered. You must remember – which you in this Government seldom do – the poor, the needy and the vulnerable in our society.

Can you imagine LIME introducing per minute fees for our domestic telephone lines?

Just imagine, Mr. Minister, some old age pensioner in your constituency whose only contact with many of his/her is that telephone. Just imagine once again, one of them wanting desperately to hear another comforting voice and is standing in front of the phone wondering if he/she can afford it.

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Cable & Wireless (LIME) Leaps for DIGICEL’s Jugular!

Submitted by Anthony Davis
Should C&W's acquisition of FLOW be stopped?

Should C&W’s acquisition of FLOW be stopped?

The battle for the number one spot in Barbados’ lucrative telecommunications market is back on. Former monopoly provider Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) today served notice that it will not ‘roll over’ and play dead while its main competitor Digicel  continues its expansion.” – Barbados Today 6 November 2014

They have billions to spend on buying out a company to obtain monopoly status, but they don’t have any money to spend on a Barbadian Call Centre which would stop people from  asking where well-known places and towns in Barbados are? We don’t need a juggernaut – especially when LIME is involved. That will bring us more headaches than when it held the monopoly before.

I find it despicable that Flow jumped into bed with LIME without even telling its workers. That’s not the way to treat workers!

The main problem here will be the number of people who will be fired, thereby putting more strain on the Government coffers, because many will claim unemployment benefits, and some will have to go cap-in-hand to the Welfare Department also. LIME is the one with the sour grapes because it lives up to its name as spelled out in its acronym. I think that the FTC should reject this proposed amalgamation!

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LIME Disappointing

Supported Anton Brathwaite
LIME customer service questioned.

LIME customer service questioned.

My father’s LIME telephone has been out of order for the past 36 hours due to a technical fault at LIME. All telephones carried on fibre optic were out of order when the fault first started but some have been restored. I called at 10 pm Barbados time on Wednesday to report the fault to LIME Call Center but was frustrated by the responses which I got from the persons answering the phone at 1-800-804-2994. Obviously English is not the first language of the country where the call center was located at that time. I asked one of the technical assistants if he was aware of problems on the fibre optic network since my father recently had his phone switched from the old copper cable landline to fibre optic cable. Lord Have His Mercy, it was like asking him a nuclear physics question.

After several meaningless rantings, he told me that he would get a technician from Barbados to visit my father’s home. I told him that I was reporting a fault on the fibre optic cable and not the old copper cable and furthermore the LIME TV and Internet which shared services with the telephone on the fibre optic cable, were up and running so it was not necessary for anyone to visit his home. I am not technically trained but common sense told me that by a process of elimination, there was/is nothing wrong with the cable to my father’s home nor the Galaxy modem but it all had to do with LIME in-house. This was later confirmed by a Jamaican LIME technical assistant when the Call Center was switched for daytime control from wherever it was during the night to Jamaica.

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LIME Introduces Caribsurf Emailers to Googlemail

Submitted by St.George’s Dragon

LIMELime appears to have made a botch of the transfer of their email system over to Googlemail. All users were mean to be transferred over to Googlemail as of 16th September (today) but everyone I talk to says their email is down.

Can anyone enlighten us as to what is happening and the extent of the problem?

Cable & Wireless: When is a LIME not Local?

Send info to BU by using the contact form at the bottom of this blog

Send info to BU by using the contact form at the bottom of this blog

The following was received from a trusted source and BU adds its voice to the query.

Barbados Underground

“It is alleged that a Canadian who has Barbados citizenship is living in Barbados and being paid out of Cayman and not paying a cent of taxes to the Barbados Government. Her name is apparently J*****er M*******son from Cable and Wireless and all the Executives know and is pushing it under the carpet. Maybe this is why our economy is how it is.

Please let this email address remain anonymous. But do some investigating around it. It was reported to the tax department and no one seem to have followed up on it and this individual would owe hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

If there information out there to clarify this matter please send to the BU confidential comment box below which can only be read by BU personnel. Continue reading

RBC Employees in the Bahamas Fear Job Losses,,,Next?

Nathaniel Beneby, head of RBC Bahamas

Nathaniel Beneby, head of RBC Bahamas

BU has been asked to highlight the fact that RBC has started to retrench workers in Bahamas. Ever since RBC acquired the assets of RBTT in 2007 interested observers have been waiting for the hammer to drop on staff as a result. When two business entities come together there is always an inevitable result.

The BU household sympathizes with those RBC employees who will likely lose jobs in this guava season BUT this is the way business (especially Big Business) operates. A recent example of significant restructuring which resulted in the loss of jobs is LIME formerly Cable&Wireless. The government of Barbados will not want to hear about RBC (banks) sending home employees at this time although there is hardly anything our banana republic governments can do to prevent it.

See link to article received from a concerned employee:

A Business Ethos of Deception…the money grab

Many years ago some questions were asked about the circumstances which led to the award of an insurance contract by the Transport Board (TB) to CGI Insurance. Although the questions were put to former Minister of Transport Rommel Marshall at the time, he or the government he represented never felt compelled to answer the taxpayers truthfully. Neither the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) or the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) have been transparent over the years about how the taxpayers business is being managed.

In Barbados as is the case in small countries where relationships run deep, it should come as no surprise that business deals and decisions are greatly influenced by ‘informal’ considerations. The fact that successive governments have resisted implementing transparency laws assures that the practice of delivering ‘favours’ has become embedded in our business ethos. This is a reality in both the public and private sectors.

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Barbados Workers Union Has Become Irrelevant

Submitted by Philip Skeete
Sir Roy Trotman

Sir Roy Trotman

I should be grateful if you [BU]  would get in touch with Sir Roy and tell him that a strike by the members of the BWU will not cripple LIME operations in 2013. All Sir Roy will be doing is crippling the Barbados economy. LIME’s survival depends on people using cell phones. While the workers  are on strike, their idle fingers will be sending text messages to friends and family. Tops-up will be the order of the day.

Pointless boasting that the Union successfully took strike action for 3 weeks against the Telephone Company 31 years ago. Those were the days when radio telephone operators connected people  worldwide.Now every home in Barbados has a MagicJack [Skype] and while they are on strike, they will be giving their friends and family a blow by blow commentary on what is going on.

Those were the days when newspapers had to wait hours for Reuters and Associated Press stories. Today, MCTV, Direct TV and Satellite receivers mounted on top of  news media houses provide them with data before Reuters or Associated Press can get  it right. Remember the 9/11 attacks? FOX News and CNN brought the news into the homes of Barbadians. They didn’t have to wait till the following day like back in 1981 (Bartel strike) to get the news. Every day youngsters watch European football on MCTV or on satellite TV at bars all over Barbados. LIME doesn’t provide these services. Nobody is waiting for an operator to answer the phone at LIME to send a telegram to friends and family overseas, Sir Roy. MagicJack is there for that purpose.

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LIME BWU Dispute: Social Partnership Failing

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank/Watchdog Group
Sir Leroy Trotman (l), Minister of Labour Byer-Sukoo (r)

Sir Leroy Trotman (l), Minister of Labour Byer-Sukoo (r) – Credit: Barbados Today

For some time, we have warned that the trade union movement in Barbados was being marginalized. The coziness with employers brought about by the so-called Social Partnership, has long been a cause of concern to the Mahogany Coconut Group. The frequent love fests of the employers’ representatives and the union bosses were brilliant public relations stunts designed to fool those who don’t understand the treachery inherent in such exercises.

We have reached a state of utter delusion, if we believe that the playing field is level and the actions of LIME clearly demonstrate that the Social Partnership is exactly that-nothing more than high level social gatherings and smiles for the cameras.

Recession or no recession, we cannot surrender the rights of workers and their representatives to be respected. The truth is that LIME decided to dismiss workers while promising to continue the collective bargaining process. No self respecting union can take such an insult lightly.

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LIME Experiencing Problems At The Border Gateway

LIME experiencing Gateway problems

BU understands that Cable & Wireless is currently experiencing serious Internet networking issues. According to a BU family member the problem is complicated to explain in layman terms but involves something called Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). This is a protocol used by big Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and carriers to exchange routing information between each other.

To translate: several Internet services currently cannot reach Barbados LIME customers. LIME has been experiencing the problem since 13.07.2012 and  it may not be resolved for a few more days. Without an active Fair Trading Commission and Consumer organization the Barbados public is left to ferret information based on the effort of a few good souls.

We also take this opportunity to highlight the recent offer by LIME to double the ADSL bandwidth of customers. Customers should be aware that at the end of the offer is a caveat. If you do not respond to LIME to say you refuse the service your ADSL billing will be increased! It is not free!

  • 1 goes to Up to 2mbps
  • 1.5 goes to Up to 4mbps (3 month trial, at the end of which, the customer must opt out or will be billed at the new 4mbps rate).
  • 2 goes to Up to 4mbps
  • 2 goes to Up to 4Mbps
  • 4 goes to Up to 8Mbps
  • 6 goes to Up to 12Mbps

LIME Defines Corporate Greed

Alex McDonald – LIME Official

In a Press release issued yesterday, LIME announced “all post-paid mobile customers completing data streaming, browsing, tethering and downloading of documents, games and any other transactions which go via the WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) and/or Internet Gateways on the LIME data network will be billed”.

Nation Newspaper – 4/5/2012

Barbados Underground agrees with the decision by LIME’s management to increase mobile rates effective July 1, 2012. Today many Barbadians have been demonstrating outrage via the various media channels at what they believe is the obtuse manner LIME has unleashed its new pricing plan.  BU would venture the opinion that LIME has made its decision full in the knowledge that Barbadians will ‘keep noise’ but continue to subscribe to their services. Truth be told BU can’t wait until the next increase.

LIME prides itself on being a good corporate citizen although BU recalls that it was one of the first companies in Barbados at the onset of the global recession to retrench staff. It should come as no surprise after the recent settlement of the collective bargaining agreement with the Barbados Workers Union that LIME would seek to find ways to boost its revenue position.  It now has three quarters to get the job done.

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Who Ever Said Silence Is Golden?

Submitted by Old Onion Bags

The Hon. Prime Minister Freundel Jerome Stuart, Q.C., M.P

By the time a person has achieved years adequate for choosing a direction, the die is cast and the moment has long since passed which determined the future

Zelda Fitzgerald

“How long is too long…. if it’s good?” We have been on wait on some matters for too long. For instance, when will there be a Stage II in the seemingly never ending saga of the Alexandra matter?… the wait is too long. When will there be a new appointment of Governor General?…the wait… too long. What about the LIME settlement….we were told only this weekend to standby for news…the wait …too long. What about commentary, even a reaction or even indication of a reading of, the Judicial Report on the CLICO matter? …again…the wait too long. How about General Elections… for some again …..the wait too long.

Call it a waiting game…..wait and wait some more

Barbados Rapidly Losing Regional ICT Battle And Don’t Even Know It


Barbados is rapidly losing the regional Information and Communication Technology (ICT) battle with T&T, Jamaica and Grenada being increasingly recognized as regional nations of choice for international ICT business investment, this is due largely to investments these nations have made in their national ICT infrastructure. Barbados has been overly focused on the tourism industry to the detriment of many other industries like ICT, a pattern which must end.  Jamaica in the midst of their economic challenges have invested in creating a national ICT infrastructure that is now attracting international ICT investors like Digicel, which is now based in Jamaica but could/should have been based in Barbados.

What is the sense of having a well educated population if we don’t have jobs for our youth when they are done school.  It is as though we need a major shock to our idea of life and liberty in Barbados (which by the way is the only reason to vote for the DLP in the next general election).

We as a society still view diplomas on a wall as proof of a profession’s worth and as a result of this institutional thinking they are many young Bajan entrepreneurs and “doers” who will never get a chance to “shine”, just because they did not go to Harrison or Queens College or UWI.  If we as a nation are going to survive in the post-recession world, we have to change this mindset and way of thinking about education, for competitiveness sake.

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LIME’s Poor Customer Service

Adrian Loveridge - Hotel Owner

Like many other businesses, communication is critical to the survival and success of our hotel. The ability to respond promptly to booking requests is directly related to the level of occupancy. If we do not answer emails quickly, there is a strong possibility that a potential guest will move on to another property and/or destination where they feel they are more appreciated. So, whether we like it or not, we are almost hostage to the monopoly landline provider, Cable and Wireless (Barbados) Ltd.

If I start counting the days one or more of our telephone and internet lines have been out of service over the last year, it is staggering. Even when we have an internet connection, often the speed is dramatically short of the promised delivery.

Last week we reported one line out of order through the call centre in St. Lucia or Jamaica. A sixteen digit fault reference number was given and a remedy was promised ‘in 12 working hours’. 5 days later, we are left to wonder exactly how Lime defines a working hour.

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Will The Fair Trading Commission Protect Consumers From EMERA And LIME?

Emera CEO Chris Huskilson

On Friday, Emera showed a profit attributable to shareholders of $241.1 million ($1.97 per share) on revenue of $2.06 billion for all of 2011. That compares to a profit of $190.7 million ($1.65 per share) on revenue of $1.6 billion in fiscal 2010.

The company credits gains earned by Caribbean subsidiary Light & Power Holdings Ltd. for helping achieve impressive profits, but there is no denying Nova Scotia Power is the big earner for Emera. According to figures, the regulated provincial power monopoly contributed more that half the profit earned by the parent in 2011.

 Herald Business

We now have the ridiculous situation enduring in harsh economic conditions where the parent company of the Barbados Light and Power (BL&P) has earned record profits of 241 million for 2010. The business theory indoctrinates that private enterprise is established for the primary reason to create value for the shareholder. Who can fault Emera for the enviable position it finds itself. However the following statement in the report that “The company credits gains earned by Caribbean subsidiary Light & Power Holdings Ltd. for helping achieve impressive profits.”  should be of of interest to Barbadians. More particular it should be of interest to the beast we refer to as the Fair Trading Commission (FTC).

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LIME’s Broadband A Tough Squeeze – Are LIME And Digicel Blocking the IMEIs Of Stolen Mobile Phones?

Posted as a comment to BU blog – Clarity Needed In Broadband Speed Sold By LIME In Barbados

LIME’s biggest problem is that they simply do not have the bandwidth available to share among it’s current subscriber base. When they first introduced ADSL their customers actually got what they were paying for. Now, the network is so congested that everyone has to fight for a piece, and this problem is especially bad in heavily populated areas where one or two fibre links have to serve a single exchange from which thousands of phone lines are served.

To their defense however, they have been constantly upgrading and installing mini exchanges all over the island to circumvent this problem, but it’s not enough. And what’s more is that they’ve increased contention ratio which only compounds the problem. I’m speaking subject to correction here but the last I heard is that it’s set at 50:1, which means that if you’re paying for 8Mb/s, then you have to share that between 8Mb/s of bandwidth with 49 other users… I don’t know about you, but that’s unacceptable considering the rates  that they’re charging when we see what they’re offering in other islands like Grenada. If they charge the same rates here that do in Grenada, then an 8Mb/s connection would be $120.66 BDS Incl VAT! A 2Mb/s connection would be $59.90 BDS incl VAT!

Haven’t you ever noticed that the internet is slower during the day (business hours) than it is at night? I can’t wait for Digicel to start offering their WiMax service for residential use…

Nuff said!

Bajan Website Inaccessible To LIME Users?

Submitted by Ian Bourne (Bajan Reporter)

Good Morning Alex; (LIME’s Country Manager)

Trust this note finds you well and eager to clarify… I have everyone on board so we’re at the same page – last night a number of regular readers to my site said they could not access it – now I have a new server to accommodate increased users, I checked via Safari/Firefox/Chrome/Internet Explorer browsers and my signal is fine! But the fans who could not?

They all were using LIME, my service is no longer with Caribsurf – so my site appears in no time flat? Is there a problem in relaying my info to your customers? The fact I carry regional Football coverage from your competitors is considered objectionable? Or their forays into Asiatic climes?

In addition I decided to add Political coverage on my site, is this another problem? I recall having a chat with you at the Ermy Bourne Resource when George Payne said he was running for the BLP’s Party Chairman – I should hate to think LIME is embroiled in political intrigue at the behest of certain interests? If that was true, it would speak poorly to freedom of press which the BAJ so valiantly upholds, even Social Media as myself, plus if this can happen to myself… Imagine what would happen to Advocate, Nation or other online media houses when they have truth to carry? Perhaps an alert campaign with each house’s subscribers should be made to warn people who they support via Internet or Mobile or otherwise they may be denied complete access to their service which they paid for which is contrary to dictums from the Fair Trading Commission?

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Regional Trade Unionists Invited To A LIME By LIME, ALL Expenses Paid

Sir Roy Trotman on the right captured with other parties in the Sandy Lane/Royal Shop dispute which remains unresolved

It is an open secret BU questioned the basis for conferring a Knighthood on Sir Roy Trotman by the government of Barbados. We support the social partnership which is comprised of government, private sector and trade unions even if we have done so with some apprehension through the years. Based on general feedback it is a partnership which has served Barbados well. In fact countries across the globe have studied and applauded the Barbados initiative. Conferring a Knighthood on Sir Roy who is the head of Barbados’ leading trade union, the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), has always been viewed as a conflict of interest by BU. Here is a man who has to sit across the collection bargaining table to negotiate the best terms for his members with the same government who rewarded him with a Knighthood.

The preamble should explain why an event staged by LIME Caribbean in January this year to ‘wined and dined’ labour leaders from nine trade unions and seven countries in the region is viewed with some suspicion by BU. Early this year the nine trade unionist were ‘wined and dined’ by LIME in what was described as ‘partnership building’. LIME formerly Cable & Wireless Ltd has been at logger heads with unions across the region linked to its efforts at organizational transformation in recent times. The process to date has been painful. In Barbados the Prime Minister had to intervene in a decision to close the call centre in Barbados. As far as we know this matter has fizzled despite the mouthings of Sir Roy and requests from the Prime Minister’s Office for LIME to reconsider.

BU appreciates there is merit in collaborating with trade unions across the Caribbean. LIME is a Pan-Caribbean company and the need to build partnerships with the respective unions must be seen as a priority to ensuring a stable industrial relations climate for the company. Additionally, lessons would have been learned from the First Caribbean International Bank experience which was very painful.

The question which we hope our media practitioners will ask LIME management – why is the initiative being led by new head of regional marketing and chairman of LIME Jamaica, Chris Dehring?  Seems highly unusual such an initiative should be led by marketing. Perhaps there is a good explanation therefore let us hear it!

Another concern has been the lack of coverage given by local media to the ‘wining and dining’ event. It seems reasonable given the high profile of LIME in the region and the acrimonious posture it has endured with some regional unions (including the BWU) that the event in January should have been viewed as a big news story. Help us out here but BU has scoured the Internet for mention of the story locally with little success.

Here is what we believe.

LIME is one of the biggest spenders of advertising dollars in Barbados and the region. The current economic challenges has made the media patsies for LIME with the deep pockets to exploit. BU suggest the reason why the local media has been ‘dumb’ on this story is because it does not want to offend its cash cow.

Read the story which was carried in the Jamaica Gleaner in February 2010:

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Clarity Needed In Broadband Speed Sold By LIME In Barbados

Sir Neville Nicholls - Chairman of the FTC and SEC

(6) The Commission (FTC) may on its own initiative or on the request of any person carry out any investigation that it considers necessary or desirable in connection with matters falling within the provisions of this Act, the Utilities Regulation Act, and any laws relating to consumer protection and fair competition which the Commission has jurisdiction to administerFair Trading Commission Act

When the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) was established in 2001 so much was promised by the previous government of the leadership it was expected to exert on  how Utilities  were regulated in Barbados. For many years before that it had been the public’s perception that Utilities operated to the beat of their own drums. Since the establishment of the FTC in  2001 nothing has changed to reshape that perception. The Utility which has attracted the greatest ire from Barbadians has been LIME formerly Cable and Wireless. Perhaps what has stung Barbadians the most is the fact jobs have been relocated to St. Lucia and other low cost based islands. This is after decades of Barbados being the cash-cow for Cables & Wireless in the hemisphere. Even if Barbadians were persuaded to finally accept LIME’s, formerly Cable & Wireless restructure, the promise of enhanced customer service as a result of the changes has been elusive.

Barbados Today carried a funny piece last week which poked some fun at the online customer support which kept advising users to visit LIME’s Windsor Lodge Office to seek resolution.

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Chaos Continues In A Regulated Telecommunications Market In Barbados

Prime Minister David Thompson

It seems like yesterday Barbadians rejoiced at the news the government would liberalize the telecommunications sector as part of WTO obligation. Barbados was an early signatory to General Agreement on Trade in Service (GATS) and the Telecommunications Reference Paper in 2000. Why did Barbadians rejoice? Hitherto Barbadians would have felt they were being shafted by Cable and Wireless, the London-based telecommunications monopoly which has operated in the region since the twentieth century. According to C&W’s 2005 Annual Report the Caribbean region ranks second after the UK in profits generated(United Kingdom turnover: £1,602 million, Caribbean turnover: £550 million). The decision to liberalize Barbados telecommunications market would have raised expectations that the onslaught of competition would have driven telecommunications costs down, welcome news in a service-based economy seeking to be competitive.

Several years post-liberalization of the telecommunications market and Barbadians are yet to benefit significantly, especially in three key areas. In the fixed line market it has been business as usual for LIME formerly C&W. In the mobile market we have seen a new entrant Digicel which has created some competition for LIME by forcing the price of handsets and packages down, as a result we have seen a deeper penetration of the Barbados mobile phone market. On the data/broadband side of the business LIME continues to dominate.

Many Barbadians believed when Telebarbados entered the market it would have ‘buss it open’. Bear in mind Telebarbados is affiliated to the Barbados Light and Power (BL&P) which has the most comprehensive pole distribution in Barbados.  The import of this is, there was and still is the opportunity for Telebarbados to launch a frontal assault on LIME. Instead our best information indicates that Telebarbados is happy to focus on the more profitable commercial segment of the market. In fairness to them a major hurdle to date has been getting LIME to agree to allow Telebarbados customers to walk with their LIME landline telephone numbers. For example the Telebarbados subscriber would have to get a new telephone number. Another area where the regulator should play a pivotal role when adjudicating interconnectivity agreements in the sector.

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LIME Entertainment Is Coming

It is approaching eighteen months since Cable & Wireless Caribbean Ltd rebranded to LIME (Land, Internet, Mobile and Entertainment). The decision sparked a robust discussion in Barbados because the word lime in the West Indian lexicon defines a person operating in leisure rather than productive mode. The acronym LIME from a marketing perspective also misses a key element in the E, Entertainment. Barbadians like others around the Caribbean have been promised the Entertainment product since launch.

According to a BU source the wait for the E in LIME should not be for much longer. When LIME is able to deliver DirecTV and CBC MCTV will get some competition for those who are hooked on this form of entertainment.

BU’s concern about the soon to be launched LIME Entertainment product is how will it impact the quality of the existing broadband service. It is no secret LIME’s broadband network is congested. Most subscribers to the LIME broadband service can determine they are being short changed by running a diagnostic to establish download and upload speeds.

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The Utilities Raping Barbadian Consumers

First it was water, followed by electricity, based on recent reports Barbadians will suffer another increase in the telephone rate of $1.77 per pricing plan, whatever that means. The biggest of all ironies is the recognition that the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) is owned by government and not regulated by the Fair Training Commission (FTC). Cable & Wireless aka LIME and the Barbados Light & Power fall under the oversight of the FTC. In both cases the PEOPLE lose.

BU can join the esoteric debate by the academics and analysts to argue the merits of hiking utility rates at the hike of a recession. We have always been more comfortable using arguments rooted in commonsense.

Barbadians have had to pay by decree up 60% increase in the water rate. Most Barbadians given the value of water to maintaining our existence would have been persuaded to suffer the increase,  balanced by the argument the BWA was insolvent and in dire need of a overhaul. Prime Minister David Thompson told Barbadians in June 2009 that the increase in the water rate was necessary to ensure the BWA meets its mandate to deliver a quality water management infrastructure to Barbadians. Approaching one year the customer and other support services at the BWA remain abdominal. Minister Denis Lowe who is responsible for the BWA has been silent regarding progress in restructuring at that state body. Last week Barbadians were treated to the news that a consultant contracted by government will recommend the discontinuation of sucks/ pit toilets. Additionally current water zones may have to change.

Is this another case of the chickens coming home to ruse? It wasn’t too long ago when politicians Don Blackman and Trevor Prescod were defending the rights of squatters in the Belle. Other politicians have been known to put politics above the health of the nation by ignoring the growing problem of squatting in water zones.  A lack of leadership in our water management perhaps?

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Cable & Wireless, LIME and Demerger

cable&wirelessWhen Bartel and Cable and Wireless (C&W) consolidated its business some years ago to operate under the one-name C&W it made sense. Back then Bartel managed the local business and Cable and Wireless managed the outbound traffic.  In 2008 when C&W rebranded its Caribbean operations to  LIME (Land, Internet, Mobile and Entertainment) the reaction was what the hell! The word LIME in the Caribbean lexicon does have a meaning which  one has to admit is not complimentary in a business context.

The rebranding exercise immediately signalled major restructuring in the company which continues today. In Jamaica CEOs are being changed like dirty socks. In Barbados significant numbers of LIME employees have been retrenched and there is promise of more to follow – all in the name of balance sheet efficiency and creating a more competitive entity. LIME formerly C&W after comfortably raking in profits operating in the Caribbean as a monopoly since colonial days has now been jolted it seems by the deregulation sweeping the telecommunications industry globally.

Many decisions which LIME has taken since rebranding continue to baffle observers. Many people on the street are convinced C&W is planning an exit strategy from the Caribbean in the face of the onslaught from competitor DIGICEL in the mobile arena.

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Time-For-Lime To Deliver On The Promises

Submitted by Adrian Loveridge

Submitted by Adrian Loveridge

It would really be difficult not to have noticed the various mission statements recently put out in the print and electronic media by Cable and Wireless or LIME, including ‘a better greener business’, ‘go green with us’ or ‘go paperless’.

Yet the latest ‘ads’ placed to get your new Directory today,17th September, (well actually from 19th September), makes absolutely no mention of taking your old directory to the collection point where LIME could have partnered with one of the recycling companies to dramatically reduce the number that will eventually go to the landfill.

While is perhaps too easy to knock the company for its huge declared profits, they could at least effectively implement some of these admirable objectives. I stumbled across one of their media releases dated 31st October 2008, where among many other ‘promises made in this manifesto’ included ‘calls to LIME’s customer service centres will be answered within one minute’ and ‘no LIME customer will be without the ability to communicate, via at least one of LIME’s services, with their friends, family or colleagues, for more than one day’.

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It’s Not The Phone, It’s The LIME

Submitted by GoWeb Blog

limeRecently, I’ve coined a phrase because of how often I’ve had to use it. My telephone line has been “mis-behaving” for quite a while, making it a pain to keep in contact with important people. We called LIME to look at the line, of course, and it seemed as though they took their time in coming. One technician came and said it was too late to tackle the problem and he would return tomorrow. That was the last I saw of him. Another technician eventually came and said that the problem was our phone. We have multiple phones in the house and they are all exhibiting the same symptoms. We borrowed a phone from next door and tried in on our line and it exhibited the same symptoms. Therefore, I was forced to coin the phrase “it’s not the phone, it’s the LIME”.

This was been happening for a very long time now. Whenever he rain falls, the line misbehaves and the technician try to tell us that it’s the phone which is misbehaving. Yet, they always eventually manage to fix, or should I say, plug the problem from the pole, which would logically indicate that in each case, the problem has been the LIME and not the phone.

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Down With The Politics And Up With The Cause That Needs Defending!

Hartley Henry - DLP Political Strategist

Hartley Henry - DLP Political Strategist

It’s been more than a decade that I have stepped into a corporate boardroom to advise, from a public relations perspective, on the way forward for any business entity, be it large or small. I recall working with my dear friend and colleague, Al Gilkes on several very dynamic assignments that went to heart of enhancing the image and safeguarding the well being of corporate entities, many of which had gone astray as a result of il-advised marketing and employment related policies.

It is amazing the extent to which company bosses in Barbados can lose focus and sight of fundamentals of good business practice and end up on the wrong side of public opinion. The irony is that almost always, their il-advised policies result in a lessening of the said profits they are seeking to secure and shore up.

One constantly unfolding case in point is the matter of the so-called corporate telecommunications giant in our midst. One thing we must concede is that they are consistent. They are consistently wrong in how they approach matters of employment and human resource management. In this current episode over the further layoff of more staff, the only thing they have going for them, in the context of avoiding the full wrath of the Barbadian public, is that the workers representative, the Barbados Workers Union, has been incoherent in its summation of the situation and has failed to outline a suitable cause around which the country could rally.

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Barbadians Can’t Be This Stupid

blueconnectHistorically Barbados has been a most profitable market for LIME formerly Cable & Wireless. It should concern Barbadians how LIME has betrayed the willingness of Barbadian consumers to stupidly buy its high priced products and services over the years. It should concern Barbadians how the relevant regulatory agency, the Fair Trading Commission has ruled on policy which facilitates the perpetual raping of Barbadian consumers, namely the Price Cap Mechanism by LIME.

In the current economic downturn which has seen many of the small islands in the Caribbean scurrying to the International Monetary Fund, and despite super profits, LIME continues to send home Barbadians under the guise of a restructure. A company has the right to act in the interest of its shareholder, it is acknowledged most companies recognize it has a social investment obligation. There is no commercial enterprise which can profitably exist in a market which collapses i.e.high unemployment.

magicjackfooterimageIt is time for stupid Barbadians to demonstrate that the investment in free education which previous governments have supported was not a wasted effort. The most profitable revenue centre of LIME is the revenues it generates from long distance calling. One way Barbadians can protest the inhumane management practices at LIME is to access the many alternatives available to facilitate long distance calling at super low prices.

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LIME The Bully, BWU The Weakling!

Sir Roy Trotman - General Secretary of BWU

Sir Roy Trotman - General Secretary of BWU

We intended to advise the BU family of the good work which BU family members ROK, Chris Halsall et al continue to do on behalf of the people of Barbados. In light of the recent news concerning the severing of 116 employees from LIME how could we not add a few words about our favourite company.

The Fair Trading Commission recently announced the list of 10 Intervenors who have complied  with the requirements under the Procedural Rules and have been granted intervenor status to participate in the review of electricity rates to commence on 7 October 2009 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. At the top of the list is Barbados Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (BANGO).

Although the the rate review is scheduled for 7 October 2009 several procedural matters start from August 7, the Intervenors will be kept busy doing the people’s work. We take this opportunity to thank the 10 civic minded Intervenors.

Sadly the re-emergence in the news of LIME, formerly Cable & Wireless sending home 116 employees at the height of a recession again brings into sharp focus the role of the FTC. Rulings by the FTC in the recent past has seen C&W which has a monopoly of fixed-lines in Barbados generating huge profits. Despite a good bottom-line over the years C&W formerly LIME has been relentless in sending home rank and file Barbadians while the executives continue to rake in some of the highest salaries in the Southern Caribbean  along with bonus payments.

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Fair Trading Commission Offers Inadequate Time For Consumer Advocates

Submitted by Hallam Hope – Consumer Advocate and Managing Director Caritel

Hallam Hope

Hallam Hope

There were two disturbing developments recently where the question may be raised about the consideration the Fair Trading Commission has for consumers. CARITEL, my private consultancy, is taking part in the Reference Interconnect Offer (see earlier posts for background). We were given one week to study various documents in detail, conduct additional research and prepare and send a follow-up submission to the FTC as it relates to new arguments.

We protested as we did in the first submission that this was inadequate and a month was requested. A RIO is a highly granular proceeding, requiring regional and international research as well as correspondence with contacts such as regulators elsewhere. The issues are quite wide and therefore require considerable time to investigate and respond to arguments, in this case made by Cable & Wireless. Cable & Wireless has an entire department and regional staff to deal with such matters.

Well, the FTC said you have another week in an email sent minutes before the close of business Friday, the deadline for the actual follow-up submission. I had written the Commission the Wednesday since time was needed to read the documents from Cable & Wireless (LIME), Digicel, TeleBarbados and Blue Communications and study the implications.

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The Reference Interconnection Offer And Consumers

Submitted by Hallam Hope – Consumer Advocate and Managing Director Caritel
Hallam Hope

Hallam Hope

A Reference Interconnection Offer (RIO) might not mean a whole lot to many people but it can have a significant impact on new services and the extent to which there is competition in communications.

LIME is at the centre of a RIO consultation and a series of documents on services such as overseas calling. Companies have to interconnect so that customers of one company may communicate with those of another, for example Digicel, TeleBarbados, LIME and Blue Communications, which is offering a competitive long distance card to make calls.

In addition, the new charges could also relate to new services, since they also involve interconnection and payments between these companies to terminate calls. Essentially, LIME is trying to get the best deal for itself while other parties want to ensure that the decisions taken by the Fair Trading Commission do not disadvantage them financially and their ability to compete and offer better rates where possible.

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Who Is Guarding The Guard As LIME Continues Its Monopolistic Ways?

Rosevelt King - Intervenor

Rosevelt King - Intervenor

Barbados Underground is fortunate to have Roosevelt King (ROK) and Chris Halsall as members of the BU family.  They are better known in Barbados for the role of Intervenors when the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) meets to rule on applications submitted by the utility companies. Two recent comments posted by the good gentlemen have resonated with the BU household and given us cause to question the effectiveness of the FTC and by extension the government of Barbados as far as its oversight duties are being managed.

In 2001 when the FTC legally subsumed the Public Utilities Board and was given a wider scope to monitor, educate, investigate, and enforce fair competition and consumers’ rights by service providers and consumers, there was high expectation by the Barbadian public. This came against a background where historically there was an acceptance, especially in the absence of a vibrant culture of consumerism, that consumers were being taken to the cleaners by the utilities and merchants in general. We remember well that the then government represented by Arthur, Toppin, Eastmond et al did a good job of selling Barbadians on the FTC concept.

Eight years later the jury is out on whether the FTC has been able to satisfy the expectations of the Barbadian public. Have they been effective and proactive as set out in their core values?

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LIME Continues To Squeeze

Richard Dodd, CEO of LIME

Richard Dodd, CEO of LIME

It is company with a long history of association with the Caribbean which reaches to the period when the islands were colonies of the then British Empire. Having operated under the name Cable & Wireless and in recent times the LIME brand, a negative impression if ever there was one when seen in a cultural context, what do we have?

LIME has extracted enormous profits from a region which is still developing and some might say that it is a region which lacks the resources to be ever world class in the global definition of things. At the top of the list of Caribbean countries contributing to the bottom-line of C&W, now LIME, has been Barbados.

It is no secret that successive Barbados governments have placed a heavy importance on developing an efficient telecommunications infrastructure, and relative to our Caribbean neighbours we have to agree we have done so with some success. Perhaps it explains the generosity of the Public Utilities Board now morphed to the Fair Trading Commission to C&W over the years.

We don’t pretend to know how the complicated system of price-cap works but we understand from the experts that given LIME’s continuing monopoly status the results of such a system is skewed in favour of the monopoly. Despite some of our best brains operating as Intervenors the monopoly has been able to make its London-based shareholders smile perennially.

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Are There Barbadians On The C&W Board?

We have followed with keen interest the recent resignations of senior executives at C&W Jamaica, rebranded LIME. Yesterday the Jamaica Gleaner published the most recent resignation of Eduardo Ryan, the CFO of LIME Jamaica which was preceded by Phil Green who was President for just under a year. The usual mundane explanations have been given to explain the resignation but we are sure the BU family agrees that there is more to the two resignations than meets the eye.

Jamaica is the telecommunications market where we have seen Cable and Wireless aka LIME and Digicel duke it out to the full benefit of the consumer post-deregulation. Again we note with interest that a recent request for a 21% increase for landline calls to Digicel mobile phones which was matched by LIME has commanded the immediate attention of Minister of Communications Derrick Smith. The Jamaican press has reported that he has  scheduled a meeting with the two companies to address his concern at the rate hike.

Can the Jamaican telecommunication companies increase rates when they feel like it?

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