At the cost of consumers
The takeover of St. Maarten Cable TV by TelEm Group (see Thursday paper) no doubt surprised quite a few. The purchase is seen as a “great added value” to the Government-owned telephone company.
It was also said the move creates a unique synergy that will allow TelEm Group to meet the Dutch side’s long term broadband needs “in an accelerated time schedule.” This should be welcome news to people who frequently complain about the phone and Internet traffic on the island.
So far so good, but a word of caution seems called for at this point. The two companies both offer Internet services, so their joining probably will remove that competitive aspect.
The latter is not necessarily a problem, as long as it doesn’t affect pricing and quality in a negative manner. There are other Internet providers, of course, but there is also talk of merging UTS Eastern Caribbean and TelEm to create “one strong company,” as Prime Minister William Marlin recently put it.
As the local telecommunication operators face many challenges, including the increasing use of online messaging or calling options rather than more traditional and lucrative phone services, their wanting to team up to confront these better is understandable and even makes a lot of sense. However, such developments may in no way lead to any monopolistic attitudes or unfair trade practices at the cost of consumers