The Sorry Tale Of Offshore Telecommunications
Jeremy Hetherington-Gore Unleashed
11 May, 2007
E-commerce is or should be one of the major competitive advantages of small, free democracies with beneficial tax regimes. They all know this, and their communications ministers regularly make speeches committing themselves to an e-future. But then why, oh why, do they fail to liberalize or privatize or marketize (whatever you want to call it) their telecoms sectors?
The dead hand of Cable and Wireless's monopoly has got a lot to answer for in so many of the ex-British territories, but governments must take most of the blame. Time after time, the liberalization process has been late or incomplete, bandwidth is inadequate, and so not surprisingly e-commerce has failed to take root.
The BVI is a perfect example. Faced with the need to be tough towards existing operators, the government has caved in and is excluding major regional players such as Digicell while creating a form of 'managed competition' which will simply ensure a continuation of the current inadequate level of service from existing incumbents for another three years. Business should be up in arms about this, and it is good to see that Digicell is going to take on the government under the terms of its own legislation.
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