Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 18th 2014 Contents DECEMBER 2014 • WEEK THREE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG5
President of the Downtown
Owners and Merchants Asso-
ciation (Doma), Gregory
Aboud, says the Telecommu-
nications Authority (TATT)
should continue its search for
another mobile provider for T&T market.
Aboud s remark comes as the Communi-
cations Workers Union on Monday suggested
that TATT should hold its hand on the search
for another provider, until a determination
had been made on the proposed acquisition
of Columbus Communications by Cable and
On Tuesday in an interview with Business
Guardian, Aboud said the more operators there
are in the market, the better it is for compe-
"If another operator feels that the market
could bear more competition then they should
be invited. There is nothing wrong with inviting
another operator. A third operator can be invit-
ed to purchase TSTT and see whether TSTT
can be turned into something more feasible.
As you know TSTT has reported significant
losses, this is something that the country can-
Offering advice about state enterprises, he
said: "We have to be very prudent about how
we try to play the popularity game about state
enterprises. Nobody wants to say that the
Government shouldn t own businesses. The
Government should be called to account when
businesses don t perform. This is certainly the
case when we have these tremendous losses."
Aboud said when it comes to making a deci-
sion about TSTT, it should not be an emotional
issue, but an issue based on the benefits to
the consumer. The consumer is not enjoying
the maximum benefit from TSTT, said Aboud.
Commenting on the proposed acquisition,
he said the combination of Columbus Com-
munications and CWC would present a greater
competitive battle for a participant in the mar-
ket, for an existing operator who might be
enjoying an "easy" time operating in this mar-
"The question of formidable competition,
in our view, is connected to CWC being unhap-
py with their relationship at TSTT. The fact
is that it is not really a secret that Digicel has
swarmed TSTT in T&T. Digicel is a much big-
ger operator, and hence their position could
be vulnerable if CWC were to get free of the
relationship they are involved in with TSTT,
and become an independent, free player in
In an interview with the Business Guardian
last week, Joseph Laquis, former owner/oper-
ator of Laqtel Ltd, indicated that the proposed
acquisition would result in increased compe-
tition and a price war.
Aboud embraced the developments in the
telecommunications market because he believes
the T&T market is starting to resemble "good"
models in other countries like the United
"It would be a shame if all of the facts sur-
rounding this move by CWC were not properly
ventilated. It would be a shame if we didn t
understand all of the factors that could aid
the consumer and could assist the consumer,
and (T&T) just rushed to judgement that this
(the proposed acquisition) is an attempt to
corner the market or to take advantage."
Last week, regional regulators and operators
met in Port-of-Spain for a closed door meet-
ing. The bargaining body for TSTT workers,
the Communication Workers Union protested
outside of the compound of the Cascadia Hotel
in St Ann s where the meeting was held. The
union, at a press conference on Monday, said
they were stakeholders too and should be
allowed to present their views on the proposed
Commenting, Aboud said: "The fact is that
this particular type of transaction could rep-
resent a tremendous opportunity for those
working in the telecommunications business.
For those represented by the spokesmen (CWU)
making the complaint about being left out,
their stance seems to be based on an anti-
establishment type of posture that has nothing
to do with what is taking place in the world
today and indeed, it has kept us in the dark
ages too long."
He said cost-effective telecommunications
which connects people, is mushrooming in
size in developed societies. Aboud said our
market is "stuck" and we should not remain
"The major competitor here, who is free
from having to deal with a state-owned enter-
prise, is flying like a rocket with respect to
market share, and with respect to new product
offerings including Internet, fibre optic and
more. Digicel is doing a fantastic job in the
market, but CWC should also be allowed to
do that job as well.
"While we understand the concerns raised
by the dominant player in the market about
the arrival of a new competitor, it might be
a word to the wise to say that good competition
would make current players better than they
are. Good competition helps to increase the
size of the pie of which they are complaining
now," he said.
He called on those who are making "noise"
about the proposed acquisition to be aware
of the huge strides in the telecom sector glob-
ally with these type of mergers and acquisitions.
"They need to look at what AT&T and Ver-
izon and other players have become to under-
stand what T&T could become as well, and
what this whole region could benefit from if
an acquisition like this were to occur."
Regarding CWC s 49 per cent shareholding
in TSTT, and if this acquisition gets the green
light, Aboud said there was too much concern
about job security and not enough discussion
about job performance.
"TSTT is going to suffer if we don t get a
more free model of management going in
the company, and if we don t take off some
of the shackles that have been imposed on
TSTT as a state-run organisation. TSTT should
be allowed to perform as a free competitor."
"Any model that the Government wants to
adopt with respect to TSTT could be discussed,
whether it is in an IPO or whether it is in an
outright sale to another major player in the
telecommunications business. There are a
number of options available to the Govern-
ment, that should not hinder the arrival in
the market of a new invigorated competitor
like CWC in combination with FLOW."
The consumer s interest and the benefit to
the market should be kept in mind when any
transaction in the telecom market is done.
Antigua and Barbuda has three players in
that market and it is smaller than T&T. The
three players: Digicel, LIME and the Antigua
Public Utilities Authority.
DOMA head to Telecommunications Authority:
TATT's Request for
Proposals in 2013
The RFP had stated: "In keeping with its
mandate outlined in the Telecommunica-
tions Act Ch 47:31 the Telecommunications
Authority of T&T is initiating a competitive
authorisation process which includes: The
provisons of a public domestic mobile
telecommunications network and public
telecommunications services by a potential
third mobile operator."
President of the Downtown Owners
and Merchants Association
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