Photo Credit: Clifton Skelton/BVI Platinum News
LIME BVI has sought legal counsel regarding the allegations made and is carefully considering what action should be taken following the ruling from the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) which pointed out that LIME and Digicel had engaged in anti-competitive behaviour against CCT.
"We believe that we owe it to our customers and employees to thoroughly review the TRC's decision before deciding on what steps we should take in light of this. We are extremely disappointed with CCT's claims and the TRC's recent findings. It is not clear in our view how the TRC has made this decision; and it is difficult to see how this benefits the industry and the public as a whole," LIME's General Manager Sean Auguste said in a statement issued to the media.
Auguste said that he would like to state clearly that the TRC's decision concerns a single product which was offered between November 2008 and August 2010 and which is no longer available.
"As a company with a proud history in the BVI; providing employment to many and re-investing millions into the development of the BVI and its citizens, we always work to provide the best value possible and with the best interest of our customers in mind. As such, we are continuing our discussions with our legal teams, and will provide further details at a later date," Auguste stated.
Digicel and CCT have already expressed their disappointment over the TRC ruling, but for different reasons.
Digicel said that they are planning to seek legal action against the ruling, while CCT said that they were not ruling out moving to court to seek damages as a result of the alleged anti-competitive behaviour from LIME and Digicel.
Jose Luis Fernandez, CCT's General Manager told BVI Platinum News that the company is disappointed that the TRC took three years to deliver a ruling on the company's compliant against LIME and Digicel.
He further stated that the decision to seek legal action against LIME and Digicel will have to be made by the shareholders of CCT and such a decision has not been made as yet, but remains on the table for consideration.
"The TRC has taken three years to reach this decision which in our opinion is unfortunate. We initially filed this complaint in July 2009. The conclusion of the TRC is that they confirmed all the points that CCT raised in its complaint and they took three years to reach that conclusion. That three-year time, which seems to be excessive under any circumstances, CCT has suffered massive damages by the anti-competitive behaviour of LIME and Digicel," Fernandez had stated.
CCT had asked the TRC to investigate practices of Digicel and LIME as regards to calls made from the BVI to other islands within the Caribbean region. CCT alleged that the retail prices charged by Digicel to call specific Digicel locations in the Caribbean and the retail prices charged by LIME to call specific LIME destinations in the Caribbean, prevented CCT from competing effectively in the mobile market in the BVI.
Fernandez explained that CCT suffered from what is widely known in the industry as 'price squeezing'.
He explained that Digicel and LIME were selling their services at wholesale prices to CCT, a price that was much higher than the retail prices that LIME and Digicel were selling the same services to their own customers.
The TRC has ordered LIME and Digicel to pay fines for breaching the anti-competitive provisions in the Telecommunications Act.
The TRC has ordered that LIME pays to the TRC a fine equivalent to 3% of the annual turnover of LIME BVI's mobile business revenues in 2010 within 30 days. As it relates to Digicel, the TRC has ordered that they pay a fine equivalent to 6.25% of their annual turnover in 2010 within 30 days.
Additionally, the TRC ruling mandated that the two companies drop their plans which offered special prices for calls to other Caribbean destinations.