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C&W Accused Of Abusing Telecoms Monopoly In Barbados

by Amanda Banks,, London

02 October 2002

Sunbeach, Barbados' largest ISP has accused telecommunications giant, Cable & Wireless of supporting its own internet subsidiary to such an extent that unfair pricing practices are able to take place.

As the jurisdiction's telecommunications sector has not yet been fully liberalised, C&W currently enjoys a monopoly position, which means that ISPs such as Sunbeach must purchase services from the company, whilst competing with its local internet arm, Caribsurf.

However, the Barbados Daily Nation reported on Monday that, according to Sunbeach CEO, Chris Alleyne, there is something fishy afoot at Caribsurf. Speaking to the newspaper, Mr Alleyne accused C&W's local operation of deliberately undercutting offers made by Sunbeach with bids that bear little resemblance to the true cost of providing the services in question.

'Through some strange mechanism, their pricing structure is now so flexible there is virtually no limit to how low they can go with their offers,' Sunbeach's CEO explained to the Daily Nation, going on to give two examples of Caribsurf undercutting his company by a substantial amount on its second offer.

An un-named government telecommunications adviser told the local newspaper that although Caribsurf's actions are not illegal, it would appear that Cable & Wireless are 'deliberately pricing so low as to drive the competition into retreat or out of the market ahead of liberalisation.'

However, C&W corporate communications manager, Debra Johnson defended the telecom giant's actions, explaining this week that:

'We are not sure of the specific instances. Competition allows customers to have a choice at the end of the day. The customer chooses based on a number of factors, of which pricing is only one, and as a consequence customers will change their supplier from time to time.'

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