SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organizations (CANTO), of which TelEm Group is a member, is making the region aware of a need to reform roaming rates for mobile consumers.
CANTO is a trade association which represents 25 CARICOM-based telecoms operators and 20 non-CARICOM-based operators who also operate in the Caribbean.
The organization’s leaders say CANTO recognizes that the issue of lower roaming rates is key to achieving regional aspirations of a Single ICT Space and takes seriously, “the crucial role played by the telecoms industry in the development of our people and region”.
In a prepared release sent via its membership affiliates, CANTO says these members look forward to a constructive partnership with CARICOM to reform roaming rates and wish to assure Heads of Government of the collective commitment of all CANTO members to work collaboratively to achieve this shared objective.
Since 2016, CANTO has been working with the Caribbean Telecommunication Union (“CTU”) and the ICT agency created by the Heads of CARICOM, on three (3) policy issues which will impact the creation of a Single ICT Space. These policy issues are:
1. Reduction of roaming rates;
2. Regulatory harmonisation between Over-the -Top (OTT) providers and traditional providers with respect to the equal payment of taxes and regulatory fees to government, as well as contributions to the development of sustainable infrastructure; and
3. Increasing broadband access.
CANTO states in its release: “While CANTO will continue to participate in the CTU process, it also looks forward to deeper consultation on the requirements for successful realization of the Single ICT Space. In the context of such collaboration, CANTO notes several key matters for discussion. One issue is the inherent difficulty involved in setting a modest, fixed single roaming rate, given the significant differences in underlying costs of operation between CARICOM countries, and the attendant disparities in pricing of services which obtain as a result. Also of concern, is how to treat with single-state operators, such as
CANTO members in Suriname, Belize, Guyana, and Trinidad & Tobago, given their inability to charge customers a fixed single rate in other CARICOM countries where they do not have networks. CANTO members are also concerned about the potential for fraud and arbitrage on their networks, and about the continued lack of equity in the treatment of telecoms operators as compared to Over-the-Top players in regional markets.
“Notwithstanding these challenges, CANTO is confident that these and other issues can be addressed through careful and deliberate collaboration with CARICOM, and looks forward to partnering with Heads of Government to take the collective decisions necessary to make reform of roaming rates, a reality.