In early 2001, the Government's then main advisory body on e-commerce, The Jersey Information Society Commission, produced a report recommending major changes to the island's telecommunications regime.
The JISC said it had come to two main conclusions - that "Jersey Telecoms is perceived to have served the domestic sector in the Island well' and 'the business sector believes that tariffs outside the island are unacceptably high and that the advanced services offered, in particular for e-commerce, do not reflect international standards of excellence or the needs of an information based economy."
The JISC made two principal recommendations: that the States of Jersey should confirm that a competitive telecommunications environment is the driving force for development and an independent regulator of acknowledged standing with a clearly defined role should be established.
Following the incorporation of Jersey Telecom Group Limited and the establishment of the independent regulation of the industry by the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority (JCRA) in January 2003, the States of Jersey announced in 2006 that it was in a position to consider the sale of Jersey Telecom. In July of that year, Jersey's Treasury and Resources Department launched a consultation on the proposed sale of the company, which is one of only a few telecommunications operators in the world that remain fully state owned. This consultation concluded in September 2006. In October 2007 Jersey's then Minister of Treasury and Resources, Senator Terry Le Sueur lodged a Report and Proposition asking the States to agree that their shareholding in Jersey Telecoms (JT) should be sold, and requesting the identification of a suitable buyer.
The cost of long-distance calls and internet connectivity was until recently considerably higher than in mainland UK, although Jersey telecom has cut prices substantially since 2001. In some instances, rates for local, national and international calls were slashed by over 60%, while mobile call tariffs were also cut.
The cost of broadband internet services, expensive by mainland UK standards, has also begun to fall in Jersey. In November 2005, Jersey Telecom announced that it was cutting the price of its broadband services by up to 53% benefiting both home and business users. Residential customers in Jersey opting for the 512Kbit/s service saw prices cut from GBP24.99 to GBP17.99 per month. Jersey Telecom’s 1Mbit/s and 2Mbit/s services were cut from GBP44.99 to GBP24.99 per month (down 44%) and GBP84.99 to GBP39.99 (down 53%), respectively. In 2009, residential broadband prices were about the same as the EU average. By 2013, a 2Mbit/s service is offered for GBP8.99 for the first three months after which the price increases to GBP17.99 per month. For the fastest broadband service (20Mbit/s) the price for the first three months is GBP24.99 per month, rising to GBP49.99 thereafter.
Jersey Telecom has also rolled out a network of Wi-Fi hot spots (or wireless Internet access points) in key locations around the Island, establishing nine in December 2004. The Wi-Fi hot spots enable businessmen and personal users visiting public areas such as Jersey Airport, the Elizabeth Terminal and various hotels not only to access the Internet, but also to check their email and get information from their corporate networks.
Jersey Telecom has also joined forces with Manx Telecom and Wave Telecom to provide telecommunications solutions for their customers with a presence in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
This coordination will ensure customers of all three companies are provided with a consistent approach to their telecommunication requirements and will only need to liaise with a single point of contact for projects spanning all three Islands.
Manx Telecom Managing Director Chris Hall explained: “As small island telecommunications providers we have common interests and face similar issues with our markets and this has led to a close working relationship. This announcement takes that relationship one stage further, to the benefit of our customers who have a business presence in more than one of the three jurisdictions. Our association will effectively allow us to offer them 'joined-up telecommunications' across all three markets.”
Bob Lawrence, Managing Director Jersey Telecom Group, also welcomed the benefits of the agreement and in making the announcement he commented: “It will allow Jersey Telecom to operate more effectively across all three markets which in turn will bring many advantages to our customers. We will continue to build on our relationship to provide further solutions and product development initiatives for our customers.”
On June 1, 2006, Jersey Telecom launched the Island’s first 3G mobile service, part of a GBP12 million investment programme to upgrade its ‘core’ mobile network, bringing customers the very latest in mobile voice and data services.
3G mobile technology is essentially ‘broadband’ for mobile devices and allows users to transfer data at speeds that rival a fixed line broadband connection. This means that customers can access a whole new set of services while on the move, including person-to-person video calling and high speed mobile internet access.
The new 3G network was to be delivered in phases, with the service initially available to pay monthly or ‘contract’ subscribers first. A version for ‘pay-as-you-go’ mobile users was to be delivered soon after. The first sites to be commissioned were in St Helier and from there, the service was due to be rolled out across the Island throughout the rest of the year.
There are three mobile networks in Jersey: Airtel-Vodafone (Jersey Airtel); JT-Wave (Jersey Telecom); and Sure (Cable & Wireless). During 2009 a new entrant entered the mobile market as a virtual operator. Jersey Post Limited launched its Me:Mo product which uses the network facilities of Airtel- Vodafone.
In June 2008, Tim Ringsdore, Sales and Marketing Director of Jersey Telecom, said that broadband was available to over 95% of homes with around 90% of lines capable of supporting the maximum speed of 2MB.
"This has helped make broadband a real success story in Jersey with over 75% of homes enjoying broadband access compared to around 60% in the UK," he said.
“We are committed to investing in the broadband market and new technology is being installed now that will provide speeds of up to 8MB for local users by the end of the year. We are also evaluating fibre broadband, which has the potential to offer speeds of up to 100MB. That’s enough bandwidth to allow a host of new services, such as high-definition TV (HDTV) and super fast web browsing and downloads," he added.
During 2009 Jersey Telecom (JT) the sole provider of both wholesale and retail broadband services introduced new 4Mb/s and 8Mb/s services. In addition to JT and the wholesale reseller Newtel, Cable & Wireless Jersey (branded Sure) also entered the retail fixed line broadband market taking JT wholesale services. By December 2010, JT announced that it had equipped a new residential development on Castle Quay, St. Helier, with the fastest broadband speed in the western world. Residents are able to access 1Gb speeds via fibre-optic cabling on a trial basis. The cabling was installed under the Gigabit Isles initiative as part of JT group's five year initiative.
The number of fixed line ISP and Internet access accounts among all operators licensed in Jersey grew by just over 2% overall. This was lower than in 2008 and much lower than in previous years and further hints at the levelling off of demand or saturation of the available market first noted in 2008.
All three mobile operators, Jersey Telecom, Airtel-Vodafone and Sure, offer USB “dongles” for access to 3G HSDPA broadband at rates up to 1.8Mb/s.
The Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority estimates 31,223 registered fixed line ISP accounts (including dialup) at the end of 2009, an increase of 861 on 2008. This would represent a penetration by household of about 82% which is above the UK at 70%. The Authority co-sponsored implementation of Mobile Number Portability in the Channel Islands at the end of 2008 to offer choice and convenience to consumers. In its annual report for 2009, the Authority reported that over 6,000 mobile phone users had switched networks, keeping their 'old' numbers, representing over 5% of the total mobile phone users in Jersey, exceeding the EU porting average of 4%.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services are also available from Jersey, either through local or off-island suppliers (e.g. Skype).
ISP and Hosting Services
Apart from Jersey Telecom, leading service providers in Jersey include Foreshore Ltd, Itex (Jersey) Ltd, ITSoffshore, OTL International Advertising, Twenty-First Century Box and XKO Communication Systems (Jersey) Ltd.
Foreshore says that its Internet backbone is totally independent of any single telecoms operator or internet service provider and has been designed specifically to meet the exacting needs of offshore e-commerce companies. The company's Jersey Internet Business Exchange is an offshore market-place allowing suppliers and customers to transact business within an ultra-secure environment, unrestricted by any bandwidth or latency limitations, with access to a wide range of specialist service providers to offshore businesses, including payment solutions, real time accounting services, digital or physical fulfillment and banking amongst others.
Payment processing services are provided by Payoffshore.com Limited through an on-line transaction processing gateway capable of processing all major types of credit and debit card payments. The Gateway is capable of receiving transaction requests from any secure server connected to the Internet on any platform.