LIME takes credit for Digicel rate drop

LIME takes credit for Digicel rate drop

Sunday, March 04, 2012

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS provider LIME on Friday said the industry is "beginning to see some results" from the company's fight for "more affordable" call rates.

LIME made the statement in response to rival Digicel's announcement a day earlier that it was cutting cross-network prices for prepaid customers by as much as 49 per cent.

"While we still offer the lowest mobile rate in the market, LIME has been pushing for more affordable telecoms rates and between our relentless efforts and the added consumer pressure, we are beginning to see some results," said LIME Jamaica managing director Garry Sinclair.

"We expect much more significant benefits for Jamaican consumers when the emergency legislation, which the minister has committed to, is passed and the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) is allowed to set interim termination rates," added Sinclair.

Digicel launched a flat $8.99-per-minute rate for prepaid customers on Thursday — the same day it started to shut down the Claro network it acquired last year. The move means Digicel prepaid customers will benefit from cheaper calls to Digicel users during the day and subscribers to the LIME and Flow networks, though having to pay an additional 99 cents per minute for night-time and weekend calls to other on-network users.

"We are always ensuring that we deliver on our commitments to delivering best value, best network and best service, and today we are happy to be delivering yet another best value option for our customers," said Digicel Jamaica CEO Mark Linehan in a press statement accompanying the announcement.

LIME has been arguing for lower termination rates which would allow it to compete more effectively, with Sinclair saying last month that the company would be supportive of an interim $5 termination rate — the rate now is over $10.

Prior to the rate review by Digicel, the company's prepaid customers paid $10 per minute for calls on the Digicel network, $14.20 per minute to the LIME network, $17.70 to call Flow numbers, $12 per minute for national fixed lines and $10 per minute for national toll-free numbers.

LIME is now Digicel's sole competitor in the mobile phones market following the Irish-owned firm's acquisition of the Claro network.

The Claro deal allowed Digicel to cement its place atop the local mobile telecommunications sector where it claims in excess of two million subscribers among the Jamaican population of 2.8 million.

The Fair Trading Commission filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court last month to prevent the deal from being finalised, arguing that the transaction would likely result in higher prices and a slowdown in technological advancements. That suit followed a failed attempt in the Supreme Court by LIME to have then Prime Minister Bruce Golding's approval of the merger in August overturned.

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