Telecommunication Providers in Antigua and Barbuda will soon be held accountable for failing to provide services advertised to customers.
This is according to Minister of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications & information Technology Melford Nicholas.
The minister, while speaking during an interview on Thursday morning said that the proposed Telecommunications Bill 2016, which he anticipates will be passed in Parliament this year, will hold companies accountable for failing to provide services offered to customers.
“There is a chapter in the bill that deals with consumer protection and one of the are that it seeks to protect consumers is that an operator may not publish or advertise facilities that it is unable to provide,” he said.
This is in light of the recent move by major Telecommunication Company Digicel, which announced that as of February 1st, customers in Antigua & Barbuda will pay a 5 per cent increase in their postpaid mobile services.
The response to the news was negative, because, according to customers, the company is yet to provide stable 3G and 4G internet service.
Nicholas said that as it stands, the government’s hands are tied as it relates to the complaint but added that once the bill is passed. Service providers will have to answer to the government if they fail to provide their services offered.
“We are without the legislative coverage to do anything about it at this present time but certainly under the regulations that will be evident after the bill is enacted we will certainly protect consumers from that standpoint and hold any operators feet to the fire to ensure there is no false advertising….I mean there will be parameters where things can slip but it must be at a 90 per cent bases that what you claim to offer must be available to the public,” Minister Nicholas noted.
Meantime, the minister has noted that the Irish Telecommunication Company has since resubmitted their decision to the Public Utilities Minister Robin Yearwood, since it had failed to seek approval from the government before announcing the proposed hike.
“I did ask them to reconsider the error and they have subsequently resubmitted an application to the Public Utilities Minister which I think he has given some consideration to but whether or not the consideration and the permission will be granted and whether or not that will be in time for February 1st as they have intended, that is something that I have to consult with the minister about,” he said.
The Telecommunications Bill 2016 seeks to establish a legislative framework for the provision of the Telecommunications services in Antigua and Barbuda, for the purpose of encouraging and facilitating competition in the sector.