BVIslanders First! -Vanterpool

Javon Liburd, Staff Reporter | 2 Opinions
Published: May 18, 2017 7:51 am AST
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Although it has been close to a year since the big blow up between local telecommunication company, Caribbean Cellular Telephone (CCT) and the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), Hon. Mark Vanterpool rehashed the dilemma, noting that the survival of BVIslanders and BVI owned companies is above anything else.

“We are here to represent our people,” the Minister said, while giving remarks at a ceremony held in commemoration of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, yesterday, May 17.

Highlighting the matter, Minister Vanterpool, who has been vocal on the issue in the past, said, “I want to make sure that our local company CCT survives and is able to compete.”

He said, “Yes, BVIslanders first; not only, but first. We are not saying only, but BVIslanders first; that is our job as representatives. We want people to be aware that whatever we do as TRC and as a government, we have to look out for our local people. There were big stories last year about CCT being shut out of spectrum and I told them that won’t happen, and that they had to fix it.”

The Communications Minister noted, “Don’t get jealous about that because it happens everywhere."

The Minister was referring to a decision made by TRC in 2015, where they denied an application made by CCT for the 2015 Spectrum Award.

CCT took the matter to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, which ruled in their favour, thus overturning TRC’s decision to reject their application. The Judicial Review hearing was heard in December 2015 before Madame Justice Nicola Byer.

This decision was later appealed by the TRC, which caused the 2015 Spectrum Award process to halt, pending the outcome of the case.

At the time of the fiasco, Minister Vanterpool spoke up in defense of CCT, where he expressed that TRC was deliberately trying to shut out the locally-owned company.

"Even though it has gone to the judge's court, I want to express my dismay publicly in the TRC in appealing that court case, which essentially says that that the opportunity for this company to be involved in the spectrum distribution must be given and not be shut off by a simple technicality, as was considered by the CCT group. And therefore I have to make it clear I cannot see any difference, to let them know that they continue to be the regulatory body, no problem, but as a government our local company will not be shut out," Minister Vanterpool said at the time.

He said that sometimes he thinks TRC is blocking the way for the BVI not to get better telecommunications.

"And indeed I am going to make it clear that I, as a representative of this government will, from a policy standpoint, stand with (CCT)...informing them (TRC) that our local company will not be shut out of what they are doing in terms of spectrum allocation. I must remind them publicly here that the spectrum of the regulator belongs to the government and people of this Territory."

In 2016, applications made by CCT, as well as Flow and Digicel were all approved in the Spectrum Award process.

With the award, the operators were given the opportunity to deliver high speed mobile broadband services in the Territory, using LTE technology.

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