One Communication & Regulatory Authority

July 8, 2017

[Written by Don Burgess]

One Communications are in disagreement to the language and manner of the Regulatory Authority’s decision against them.

The Regulatory Authority said they have “refused an application made by One Communications [One]to implement the following: 1. Contract termination fees of between $200 and $500 for residential internet/broadband customers and retail TV customers. The Authority viewed this proposal as both anti-consumer and anti-competitive; and 2. A proposal by One to exercise a method of determining its retail prices, that the Authority viewed as predatory pricing against market entrants and anti-competitive.

The RA said, “The Authority has a responsibility to safeguard the interests of consumers, as well as to promote and safeguard competition. The Authority’s actions of today are consistent with these responsibilities and the Authority is ready to intervene further should it be necessary.”

Brian Lonergan, One’s marketing director, and Michael Tanglao, One’s legal counsel spoke to Bernews to give their side of the story in what they call a “misleading press release” from the Regulatory Authority.

Mr. Lonergan said the termination fee is a “small detail” in the promotion of the service. One wanted to make promotional offers for TV and Internet services. One desired to have an offer of three months free if a customer agreed to stay with them for 12 months. If the customer cancelled before the end of the first year, a termination fee would apply. The RA is blocking this completely optional promotion.

“This promotion itself is what we would expect from Digicel and they have done very similar promotions to us in other markets where they have launched Digicel Play, their TV and Internet product. Basically we’re preparing ourselves and arming ourselves so we could compete with these guys when they launched it here, and there is every reason to believe they will.”

Mr. Tanglao added that on June 23, One did a Notification filing with the RA for the promotion and didn’t hear anything back, which is standard procedure.

“It normally takes the RA a number of weeks to respond, then on July 6 we received a very different letter than the press release. In their letter, it said two things: They had concerns that it was an anti-consumer, anti-competitive Notification and they were ordering us not to proceed with it. There was no other discussion.”

Mr. Tanglao added they did not engage with One to discuss the details of the Notification. “The letter they issued did not provide any reasons for their concerns. It didn’t even use the word ‘predatory pricing.’ They didn’t express their concerns to us in any way so it was quite surprising when the Regulator issues a press release that is more sensationalist than their actual response to the ICOL holder.”

Mr. Lonergan said the early termination fee is different than the ones for phones because that includes One subsidizing the price of a high end smart phone. In this promotion, One would be giving away three months of service for free in return for nine additional months of a paid service.

“In this case, we’re giving you three months free but if at the end of the three moths you leave, it will cost us a bunch of money. We’ll give you three months free but you’ll have to agree to stay with us for the year – not a year after the three months, but an additional nine months at full price.”

“The RA has put out a very misleading press release,” said Mr. Lonergan “To be honest, this should be something that should make people excited that we can finally start doing promotional offers on TV. Because of these restrictions we’re not able to do promotional offers on TV or Internet.

“We asked them to approve a promotion that is standard in any market and the press release we get back is that we are anti-competitive and are predators. We don’t need that.”

They said One’s investment into new network infrastructure enables the creation of new, innovative offers to benefit customers. The current regulatory environment makes it very difficult to bring those offers to market.

In addition, Mr. Lonergan said The FibreWire roll out is a recent example of One introducing a major benefit to the customer, yet having to wait six months for the regulatory process to allow market launch.

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