Wednesday 21 October, 2020

CANTO welcomes deeper consultation on regional roaming rates

CANTO, a trade association that represents 25 CARICOM-based telecom operators and 20 non-CARICOM-based operators who also operate in the Caribbean says it is working with Governments to address reform of roaming rates.

In a release, CANTO said it recognises 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.

"CANTO’s membership looks forward to a constructive partnership with CARICOM to reform roaming rates and wishes to assure Heads of Government of our members’ collective commitment to work collaboratively to achieve this shared objective," CANTO said.

CANTO said since 2016, CANTO has been working with the Caribbean Telecommunication Union and the ICT agency created by the Heads of CARICOM, on three policy issues that will impact the creation of a Single ICT Space. These policy issues are: Reduction of roaming rates, rgulatory 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 increasing broadband access.

CANTO said will continue to participate in the CTU process, it also looks forward to deeper consultation on the requirements for the successful realistion of the Single ICT Space and notes some concerns.

One such concern 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 that 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 and Tobago, given their inability to charge customers a fixed single rate in other CARICOM countries where they do not have networks.

CANTO said 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 telecom 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."



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