Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 16th 2014 Contents BG4 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JANUARY 2014 • WEEK THREE
Eight years since Digicel broke
TSTT s monopoly in T&T, the
of T&T (TATT) is ready to
expand the market even more.
Already, TATT has received six proposals in
response to its requests for proposals for a
third mobile provider issued in 2013.
In an interview at its office at Eighth Avenue
Extension, off Twelfth Street, Barataria, chief
executive officer Cris Seecheran said a price
war is possible if a third telecom provider enters
T&T s market. Comparing T&T with its Cari-
com counterparts in relation to price offered
to customers for telecom services, he said that
T&T was a little better.
Seecheran said if an international player
responds to the RFP and fits all the criteria
contained in it, the company would be invited
to this market.
"A lower price is good for consumers, but
sometimes it s a dangerous game. If somebody
comes into the market and goes too low, it
could lead to distortions in the market. It (the
market) can fall flat. We feel that there is still
some way that price could go down. Of course,
there is some limit which you can t fall (the
price), then there would be no return, in terms
of the providers, whether existing or new, in
terms of recouping their investment.
"We feel given our analysis of the situation
and the current prices available in the current
market---although, generally within the
Caribbean area, we are not doing badly---we
are still one of the better places in terms of
the price of services. We feel there is some
way it (the price for services in T&T s market)
can go down."
Seecheran said TATT s market economics
team would be carefully looking at tariffs in
the market to ensure no predatory behaviour
How dangerous is a price war?
According to a January 11 Reuters online
report, the rivalry ongoing in the American
telecom market is prompting industry analysts
to raise fears of profit haemorrhaging among
its four main players: T-mobile, AT&T, Sprint
Corp and Verizon.
According to http://www.investopedia.com,
a price war occurs "When a company wants
to increase market share, usually the easiest
way is to reduce prices, which increases product
sales. The competition may be forced to follow
suit if its products are similar. As prices get
lower, the quantity of sales increases and cus-
tomers receive the benefits. Eventually, a price
point is reached that only one company can
afford. Some companies will even sell at a loss
in an attempt to eliminate the competition
In August 2013, Joseph Laquis, former owner
of Laqtel Ltd, told the Business Guardian the
market would become too saturated if a third
operator were to enter.
He said taste patterns suggested that mobile
users are loyal to a brand they are familiar with.
Responding, Seecheran said he is not ruling
out that saturation of the market may occur.
"When Flow entered the market and they
started to engage in pricing competition with
TSTT, we saw where the prices were. What
used to be very expensive for Internet-type
service is now relatively inexpensive. You can
get fairly good service for under $200."
Another issue which Laquis raised was that
the third mobile operator would be hesitant
to share towers when they come into the mar-
Seecheran said sharing towers is not unique
to T&T, that it happens in telecom markets
internationally. Sabotaging a provider s equip-
ment when towers are shared is done is an
unlikely practice as the equipment is fenced
"with special measures taken so that one oper-
ator can t go to the other operator s equip-
Seecheran said legislation makes it mandatory
for sharing to occur at tower sites. With the
market strategically positioned to become more
complexed, he said the regulatory framework
"Within the Caribbean area, we are in a
good space. We are looked upon, in terms of
the regulatory authority, as being on the front
end of things. Where we are a lot of the smaller
Caribbean countries are likely to follow."
He said countries like Haiti, Suriname,
Guyana, Grenada, St Lucia and Bahamas have
signalled their intention to meet to talk about
copying what TATT has achieved in terms of
Seecheran said one of TATT s goals for 2014
is to implement the broadcast code.
"We ve completed the code, a final round
which we did about a year ago. We reviewed
all the recommendations. We have since made
firm recommendations to the Government,
that was sent to the Ministry. The broadcast
code is now in the hands of the Ministry of
Tertiary Education and Skills Training."
Asked whether there are repercussions for
the media, he said: "I think most people in
the media would have contributed to the code
as it now stands. There were about four rounds
of consultation. The last round was conducted
in 2012/2013 and the final document was sub-
mitted. The next step, I guess, is for the ministry
to take it to Cabinet and then to Parliament."
Seecheran said it would be a "good thing
for T&T" since it was talked about so much.
"There are penalties in there. What is in
there is a co-regulatory approach. There is a
role for the broadcaster, a role for TATT in the
way its been drafted. It s not just TATT coming
down with a heavy iron."
Referring to the penalties in the code, he
said: "There are graduated sanctions: first
breach, second breach, third breach. The first
may be a warning, the second a warning and
by the time you reach to the third, it may be
The code applies to companies, not indi-
viduals, he said.
Another new initiative is number portability.
"Right now you are pretty much tied to your
operator once you take service (from that par-
ticular operator) because you can t keep your
number and go to the other operator. Number
portability will allow you, if you are with
provider A and you are unhappy with that
service, you can go to provider B, retain your
number and take the service there."
The first public consultation on number
portability was held more than three years ago:
He confirmed that efforts are under way to
establish the number portability service and
it should be in place soon. Once the mobile
portability is completed the fixed line portability
will begin in three months.
TATT gets six
RFP for third
Cris Seecheran, chief executive officer,
Telecommunications Authority of T&T.
PHOTO: BRIAN NG FATT
Continued on Page 5
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