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Barbados: Metered Telephone Rates Will Spell Disaster For E-Commerce Says ISP

Robert Lee, Tax-news.com, London

28 December 2000


According to a report by the Caribbean News Agency (CANA), Barbadian Internet Service Provider (ISP) Sunbeach has warned that switching to metered telephone rates would spell disaster for e-commerce and other Internet-related activities in Barbados.

Sunbeach chief executive, Chris Alleyne, said in a letter to customers that if metered rates on telephone calls were introduced, ISPs would have to deal with several new challenges, many of which would result in an increase in the cost of Internet access.

Mr Alleyne's letter read: 'At Sunbeach, we feel that the effect of metered rates, particularly if the metering is done on a per minute rather than a per call basis, will have a disastrous effect on any Internet-related activities in Barbados, including government’s stated policy to encourage the use of the Internet.'

The telecommunications industry in Barbados and other Caribbean nations is already seeing big changes. Cable & Wireless is seeking to negotiate deals with Caribbean governments on domestic telephone charges while overseas calling rates are falling and more telecommunications service companies are poised to enter the market.

Mr Alleyne continued in his letter: 'Over the last week, there has been much debate over the possibility of metered rates for local telephone service here [in Barbados]. While the public outcry against these rates will have some influence on the decision-makers in government, it will be more effective to put forward detailed objections.' He urged people against metered rates to 'Contact your Parliamentary Representative and let him or her know how you feel - preferably in writing.'

Mr Alleyne concluded with a stark warning for e-commerce in Barbados: 'Per minute rates will ultimately spell the end for all the private ISPs in the island, leaving Barbadians to depend on the local telephone carrier(s) for this service. In addition, business will be forced to install equipment to monitor staff’s use of telephones, to ensure that they are used only for business purposes. The administrative overhead of this will add considerable sums to the operating costs of most local businesses.'

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