FLOW, BL&P, Digicel, BWA not being properly regulated by government and FTC

Dr Marsha Atherley-Ikechi, CEO, Fair Trading Commission

In the early 2000s the Barbados government took the decision as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) mandate to liberalize our telecommunication sector. For many years Cable and Wireless was the single telecom player licensed to provide services in Barbados. Cable and Wireless was the classic monopoly and raked in millions if not billions in profits since its establishment in the 19th century.

With the liberalization of the sector there was high expectation from the public that with fair competition, supported by the creation of a regulator and relevant legislation there was a new dawn. The late Prime Minister Owen Arthur as lead HoG for CSME matters was quoted in 1998 as saying – “Mr. Speaker, one of the areas of gravest deficiencies in our economic affairs is the set of arrangements in place for regulating the affairs of public utilities, and monopolies and protecting the interest of consumers and producers who have to relate to such monopolies“. It is fair to opine that nearly twenty five years later, Barbados telecoms players have NOT been able to satisfactorily monitor service standards, respond to customer complaints or guarantee affordable rates among other promises.

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Big Brothers Flow and Digicel?

digicel“Great News!! Cable and Wireless have partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation to allow mobile customers to surf and enjoy Wikimedia Services websites while at their home markets for FREE. This means once our mobile customers surf the Wikimedia websites their data usage will not deplete and they will NOT be charged data rates. What our mobile customers have to do? Just surf the Wikimedia websites!! A banner “Learn something new with Flow” will appear on the top of each page of the zero-rated mobile website.”
Source: Flow website

“Deep packet inspection (DPI, also called complete packet inspection and information extraction or IX) is a form of computer network packet filtering that examines the data part (and possibly also the header) of a packet as it passes an inspection point, searching for protocol non-compliance, viruses, spam, intrusions, or defined criteria to decide whether the packet may pass or if it needs to be routed to a different destination, or, for the purpose of collecting statistical information.”
Source: Wikipedia

Of-course, Flow is not the only provider that employs these kind of technologies. Digicel appears to be no stranger to DPI and DPI-like technologies. Several months ago Digicel deployed technology to block ads on its customers’ phones. What is the motive behind this? It seems like O’Brien wants a piece of the revenue pie that content providers enjoy.

Read Full Article at Suck Salt

FLOW Swallows Karib Cable Immediately AFTER Barbados General Election

Rhea Yaw Ching's, Corporate Vice President - Sales and Marketing at Columbus Communications Inc

Rhea Yaw Ching’s, Corporate Vice President

The following is an extract from Pat Hoyos’ column which appears in today’s Sunday Sun. BU cannot find a link online but a scan of the article titled Karib goes with the Flow does the trick. And why do we find it interesting you ask? Hoyos appears to be a little protective in his writing. Come on Pat Hoyos, tell us what is really stuck in your craw like the proverbial chicken bone!

AT THE TIME OF COLUMBUS’ LAUNCH in Barbados were negotiations already under way with Karib Kable? My silly, inquiring mind wanted to know. Not for any particular reason. I just like to think about such things rather than find myself playing stupid games on Facebook with “friends” I have never met. From the time it officially announced its arrival in Barbados last year through the purchase of TeleBarbados, it seemed like a whole lot of nothing was happening on the street level as far as Columbus was concerned.

Meanwhile, almost everywhere you turned along certain highways and byways, you were in danger of bumping into a Karib Kable van parked under an electricity pole, its linesmen busily “building out its network”. But then, when you stopped at its sales kiosks and asked a question, you were told that the service would only be available in certain parts of the island. So TeleBarbados’ existing set-up remained more or less untouched (it seemed) by its new owners, while Karib Kable was busy as beavers.

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’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!

Facebook Group Reacts To LIME’s Announcement To Hike Landline Rate

From the Facebook Page of SURVIVING OUR HARSH ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT: written in response to the recent announcement that LIME will be increasing rate on basic landline service from October 2011

Dear Mr. Alex W. McDonald:

I would like to express my strong objection to LIME’s proposed land-line rate hike. Frankly speaking, I find it repulsive and abominable, that your company has chosen to burden the general public of Barbados, at this time, with such an increase.

LIME’s ghastly action should be juxtaposed against the fact that a significant percentage of your patronage/ customers are currently having great challenges purchasing food and other basic necessities for his/ her family. You company’s action is unconscionable and clearly demonstrates that you are obviously devoid of a social conscience.

I am hereby calling on your company to immediately reverse its decision to implement your proposed land-line rate increase. Furthermore, I do think that you and LIME needs to sincerely and unequivocally apologize to the Barbadian public for the stress that you have caused them to experience, since you and LIME announced your proposed rate increase.

C. Malcolm Grant
Face Book Group

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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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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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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The Reference Interconnection Offer Oral Presentations Get On The Way

ftcTomorrow a very important consultation will take place. If we were to judge its importance by the lack of coverage provided by the local media,  the  Reference Interconnection Offer Oral Presentation may just be considered one of many routine events which will occur tomorrow in Barbados. For those Barbadians who are interested you should go to the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre tomorrow Friday, June 19th 2009 between 10:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m to support those Intervenors who will be presenting oral presentations. We are pleased to note that once again BU family members Chris Halsall and Roosevelt King (ROK) et al will perform in the role of Intervenor operating in the interest of the PEOPLE.

If we understand the objective of the hearing correctly the outcome of the process should eventually lead to an operationalization of a RIO policy to ensure  local competitive long distance providers – Sunbeach, Blue Communications, and TeleBarabdos who have been trying to purchase the required interconnecting circuits from the Cable & Wireless without success, even through they are clearly defined within the Policy is achieved.

BU would have addressed in an earlier blog some of the issues affecting its non-implementation of key aspects of the RIO as it relates to a standard offer for services which LIME must make available to any and all requesting competitive telephony carriers. Unfortunately, the previous versions lacked a definition for “Outgoing International Call Termination”. This meant that while a carrier could bring calls into Barbados, they were not allowed to take them out. Continue reading

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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Does Opera Telecom Need Oxygen?

oxygen8_communications1The Scream Discussion Forum is reporting on their website that Oxygen8 Communications is a new company established to buy-out Opera Telecom. The BU family may recall that Opera Telecom (UK based) was a company which was allowed to operate freely a game of chance in Barbados despite having been fined for regulatory violations in the United Kingdom. BU family member Adrian Loveridge was proactive and persistent in his effort to expose the Opera Telecom issue to Barbadians. We should highlight that CBC TV and the Nation Newspaper participated in the Opera Telecom scam by not publishing results of draws in a timely manner. We appreciate Adrian Loveridge’s public spiritedness.

A search of BU using the key words Opera Telecom should throw-up several blogs about the Opera Telecom affair. Our sources tell us that the management buy-out of Opera Telecom by Oxygen 8 is probably “a name change exercise and a rearrangement of the deckchairs but you would have to make your own minds up about that.” The reason for the name change/buy-out is suspected to be as a result of the many CUSTOMER complaints during “2008/9  which forced the ‘Regulators’ to clamp down in the international markets where they operated e.g. UK, Ireland, Australia, US, Turkey etc.”

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Should We Expect More From LIME

Submitted by Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

Its 06.45 hrs Monday morning and for nearly three hours I have been trying to make a number of overseas calls and send faxes throughout the region.

‘All circuits are busy’ is the recorded message you get and when I dialled 0, the operator who eventually answered, knew nothing about the problem and then gave me the wrong customer service number.

When I called the right number, a heavily accented person stated ‘try again in an hour or so’.

With declared profits of US$97 million in one trading year, is it unreasonable to expect a higher level of service delivery?

Now of course, when the service is restored all calls and faxes will be charged at a higher rate because it will be in peak time and charge rates.

Yet! No expectation of a refund or compensation for this appalling service.

Should we expect more from LIME?

LIME, Another Sour Twist

Submitted by R. T. Luke V. Browne

cable_and_wireless-webPreviously, the LIME tree was known by a different name. Today, we recognise what was growing in our midst. It has been extracting the riches of the soil—through our human and financial resources, for example—and the harvested fruit is hidden from ordinary view, and use. Of course, the fruits have served two purposes – sweetened drink for the privileged and plant reproduction.

Here arises a problem. They who eat of the fruit have clearly consumed in excess, and are now consumed by excess. It even seems that they have ingested the seeds in large quantities, which usually has fatal consequences for the individual and company. Now poisoned, there can be no clear assessment of the business circumstances; inaccurate conclusions—that directly affect the lives of thousands across the region—have followed. As fruits spoil, the world lacks. All for greed and plunder.

Indeed, the tree has impoverished the soil, without replenishing it. Here is another twist to a sour Caribbean tale.

Substitute ‘LIME’ for ‘Sugar’

Eric Williams may have easily written on the future of the Caribbean, by making only minor changes to his work on history.

Through Williams, we learn that:

    The history of the Caribbean is dominated by the history of sugar, which is inseparable from the history of slavery; which was inseparable, until recently, from the systematic degradation of workers in the region.

If sugar(cane) is no longer associated with the degradation of workers, through LIME slavery and such degradation seem to be alive – in a blink workers lose status, reputation and self-esteem. LIME—either as previously or currently constituted—has been with us for almost as long as sugar. The Caribbean had the most profitable of Cable and Wireless operations, and it led to a clash of colonial masters. The wounded ruler now transforms itself to, in their words, “regain what is rightfully ours.” Nothing has changed except ‘LIME’ for ‘sugar’, ‘sour’ for ‘sweet’. Continue reading

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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A Case When A LIME Is No Ordinary LIME

blackberry-boldIt is the Christmas holidays approaching and we were hoping to take a short break from blogging. However the thought of a company which has operated as a monopoly in the Caribbean for so long and has generated unconscionable profits contemplating sending home employees makes a sour taste in our mouths. Cable and Wireless (C&W) aka LIME has been in the Caribbean since the 1880’s. According to C&W 2005 Annual Report the Caribbean was the second most profitable market with a turnover of £550 million which was second only to the United Kingdom’s £1,602 million.

C&W is not you regular company, it is one which has a foundation deeply rooted in the communities of 15 former British colonies.

Any decision to re-brand and downsize by C&W must be viewed not as a simple business transaction. When taken in the context of the collaboration between the respective Caribbean governments leading into the period of deregulation, the region deserves better. One of the key planks of the Barbados economy is its Offshore Sector which is attracted to an efficient telecommunications infrastructure. The current arrogance which is being exhibited by LIME is quickly causing its goodwill accrued over 100 years to dissipate.

We will expand on this blog another time but here is a note from a BU family member who wants to ask LIME a question. Continue reading

TeleBarbados Upgrades Broadband Solution

telebarbadosThe BU family has posted several complaints in recent days to indicate that there has been a drop in broadband service  being delivered by Cable & Wireless aka LIME, and that it has left a sour taste in their mouths. Many Barbadians seem clueless as to what their options are in the circumstances. BU family member Chris Halsall has been like a stuck record in his repeat that Barbadians who are dissatisfied with LIME’s service need to check out the competition. It seems however that one BU family member has achieved some level of success.

Early in the New Year BU proposes to instigate a Boycott LIME Day. At that time we will encourage LIME subscribers in Barbados to protest to LIME in a tangible way i.e. non-payment of bills for one month, transfer  of service where practicable to the competition, send emails and telephone calls to Customer Care/Contact Centres, write to the Public Counsel/Fair Trading Department etc.

In light of the above it was with interest we read a Press Release issued by TeleBarbados today:

…today announced that TeleBarbados, a dominant communication services provider on the island, has deployed the ARRIS WiDOX 700 MHz broadband access solution at multiple locations to deliver high-speed data service to its customers throughout the islandContinue reading

LIME (Cable & Wireless) Being Squeezed By Scammer: Are Barbadians Being Told The Truth?

phonescamBarbadians who read the Nation newspaper yesterday would have learned about a scam where LIME (Cable & Wireless) customers are being targeted by fraudsters. The way the scam works: a LIME customer receives a text or call from a telephone number in the range 00 88213 213505 which could result in the customer being billed up to USD15.00 per minute. LIME (Cable & Wireless) was quick to make it clear that calls and text messages to these numbers (00 882) will be billed at the applicable international rate.”

In the absence of an investigative media, a Fair Trading Commission (FTC)  which is customer centric and a passive consumer advocacy environment, Barbadians have been left to wonder who are to look after their interest in cases highlighted by this latest scam.

Fortunately some of us have the Internet. Continue reading

Finally A Company That Makes Cable & Wireless Look Good

Submitted by Adrian Loveridge

cable-wireless-limeI can never understand how a company with the resources (both in terms of capital and human), and that creates such vast profits like Cable and Wireless, or now LIME, can get it so wrong.

I think the facility to pay online using a credit card is wonderful.

It is a pity that certain Government entities and organisations like Barbados Light and Power and the Barbados Water Authority have not yet adopted the practice.

However, I have just paid a selection of Cable and Wireless bills which show the amounts are outstanding in EC$ and thanking me on behalf of Cable and Wireless St. Kitts and Nevis for the payments.

Surely, after such an elaborate launch, with God knows however much of our money spent on it, one of the hundreds of LIME employees or dare I say someone actually in management, checks!

My first instinct was to call the 1 800 quoted on the bills, which I did. But frankly, by the time you enter all the option numbers, wait and then are asked to enter your 12 digit code (or 4 of them in our case),

I just don’t have that amount of time to waste for a fault that is not mine.

Cable & Wireless Woes

Submitted by BU family member RE Engineer

Hey David

RE Engineer here. I am wondering why I am not seeing anything about the extremely poor C&W internet service over the past few weeks and the long outages in some areas. I don’t know if I am extra sensitive to this since my new job requires that I depend heavily on the world wide web but after all the talks about BL&P and the outages etc, I am shocked that no one has come out and spoken about the horribly unreliable service of our very own C&W.

I will be doing certificate by distance education starting next month and I am to start another certification in January, and if this sort of service continues I am not sure how either will work out. I am very understanding when it comes to the limitations of technology etc, but it seems C&W does as it pleases and goes unchecked, and just like BL&P we have no other viable options. Contrary to BL&P is that they blatantly give poor service, without giving any reasons as to why and they constantly rake in millions in profit and continue to downsize as they see fit.

I know of persons all over the island that have been experiencing the same grievances and I read the paper daily and listen to the radio. I am yet to get any explanation as to why.


RE Engineer

The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) And Access To Information

Posted by Hallam Hope from the Barbados Consumer Watch under Submissions

Gaining access to basic consumer information seems to have more hurdles than one would expect. A few months ago I approached the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) and asked them for a copy of the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the consultants assessing the Price Cap. I also asked for the dates for their work. I wasn’t asking for what they were paying the consultants from taxpayer revenue to tell us some things we could determine for ourselves.

I felt that as a taxpayer I was entitled to know what they were supposed to be doing so I could enhance any submission on the Price Cap, which affects the pockets of the most vulnerable in our society. It seemed quite reasonable. The response was that both items of information requested were “internal” and not available to the public. Continue reading

Opera Telecom Ltd

I have been following the Opera Telecom phone rigging scandal in the UK and wonder if there is not concern for us here in Barbados. Joanne Nugent, a representative of Opera Interactive (Barbados) Limited has today stated they are separate companies, but when initially asked in July, she replied with a UK fax number and Opera Telecoms UK website address.

According to the CAIPO office in Barbados they are registered under # 27987 dated 28 November 2006. However, the competition ‘ads’ aired on CBC Channel 8, clearly show the name OPERA TELECOM after the conditions section and NOT Opera Interactive (Barbados) Ltd.

If you have seen the ‘ads’ you maybe would agree they are insulting but the point is those that respond are charged BDS$2.30 per call or text and where is the accountability.

Clearly, there was little in the UK.


Best Regards

Adrian Loveridge