Digicel Says Its Suing The Government To Protect Customers

Dwayne Tulloch

Digicel today offered an explanation of why it sought a court order against the government, saying that it is in a bid to shield its customers “from significant service disruption and a negative impact on coverage.”

Digicel yesterday secured a court order against the Government of Antigua & Barbuda to prevent the state from confiscating any of the 850 MHz spectrum which Digicel has been allocated.

The government wants to share that spectrum with the state-owned APUA to use for its LTE service.

In a statement Digicel said it was “forced into this legal challenge to protect its customers and services from being put in jeopardy on foot of the Government of Antigua & Barbuda’s anti-competitive and protectionist decision handed down to Digicel on 8th May that Digicel be compelled to return a significant portion of its 850 MHz spectrum by 31st May under what the Government misleadingly describes as a move towards “equitable distribution” of the spectrum.”

Is said, the Government’s confiscation of the spectrum to the sole benefit of APUA and the detriment of Digicel’s customers would result in half of Digicel’s customer base experiencing significant mobile service disruption – “not to mention the broader negative impact on emergency services and other essential services like point of sale terminals and home security systems – for a period of at least 18 months, since that is the time it would take Digicel to completely rebuild its network at a cost of at least US$25 million.”

Digicel claims that APUA has almost twice as much spectrum as either of the other two operators in the market – despite having less than 25% market share.

“APUA is hoarding a scarce and valuable resource,” the release stated.

“In any other market, this would be a cause for concern for the regulator, but uniquely in Antigua & Barbuda, APUA is also the Regulator, and hence holds the roles of both “referee and player” allowing for protectionist and anti-competitive behaviour to run amok. In addition, APUA is well able to operate a quality LTE network with the spectrum it already has; a fact Digicel can attest to since it operate its LTE networks to a high standard in a similar spectrum environment in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, as do other operators within the Caribbean region,” the statement added.

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  1. One of the worst companies on earth suggesting that its trying to protect customers. Its surprising no one has sued them for false advertising. Claiming they offer 4G when 90% of the time its at the lowest level of edge. I gather we accept it because we (too many of us) like foreign labels.

  2. My position all along. As regulator and competitor, it is highly illegal for government to so that. But one never knows what will happen in Antigua.

    • Yes indeed. APUA can’t compete even if they had the whole spectrum. Another outrageous grab attempt from this administration.

      • Don’t think you have lived here recently because the fact is APUA is beating both FLOW and Digicel when it comes to Mobile data. Then again anyone can beat Digicel speed ever Max Hurst car

    • APUA owned that before so we want it back
      Digicel not doing anything for Antigua people but take our money for shitty service and u cant even call to make a complain they send you around the world
      (good move Antigua)
      GYPG Digicel

  3. Lol this must be the joke of the year.

    Lower prices is a good start at protecting customers.

    Now if what is in your power to do and you do not do it why on Earth you want to do what is not in your power..

  4. With all due respect to my former boss and colleague at Cable & Wireless, now the Telecommunication Minister. Governments position on this is highly irregular and improper. As regulator and competitor at the same time, you simply cannot just take from your competitors and hand it to APUA. Governments approach to this spectrum issue has been high handed and dictatorial and borders on the edge of what one would expect in a communist state. It is wrong! Dead Wrong! I do not think that the Government can ever win in a court of law and it needs to be reminded that both Digicel & Flow have deep pockets and I am sure they are prepared to take this matter all the way to the Privy Council if possible.

    • Mr Phillip, it belongs to them? How so? Government is saying they need to share it with APUA hence to suggest APUA is huffing it, is false. Seems to me it can be argued that allowing them not to share it is anti competitive. Government has already voiced via the minister a willingness to reasonably compensate them for any expense this change would cause (Cabinet press conference this week). Your argument would more make sense if the plan was to take it all or some away and not compensate them. How about you leave the thinking to persons qualified in such and you instead focus on ensuring no more young girls fool you off and take your money (see Antiguan man says former pageant contestant defrauded him of over $20,000, Dominica News Online – Friday, January 15th, 2010 )

      • I was following you nicely and even agreed on a few points then you spoiled it with the last part. No need to go there since he did not attack you.

    • Audley, where were you when a UPP Minister said that he will cripple APUA, because they refused to allow their cables to be terminated at a private business place on Old Parham Road? It was out of spite that APUA (Antigua & Barbuda’s very own) was denied the spectrum they requested, and giving all to APUA’s competitors. Time to reverse that injustice.

    • How are they taking from their competitors? They are asking for the Spectrum to be shared EQUALLY,how the hell is that taking? BTW,are you aware that it is the asset of the government of ANTIGUA& BARBUDA,it should not have been distributed the way it was in the first place. APUA a are we sudden,no one should come here,NO ONE and get the better of us. So you need to wheel and come again,this is not the days when you worked for Cable& Wireless,and they were gouging out our eyeballs from the socket.Them days done.

  5. The customers in Antigua & Barbuda need protection from Digicel and Flow. They keep on milking us as cash cows, with an awfully slow and shitty service. This is 2019, so step up your act or get going.

  6. These privately owned mobile and cable companies servicing Antigua truly are awful. There needs to be more competition. If our government is willing to compete with them, then so be it. Let the market decide who wins. My guess is that our own Antigua government will provide better prices and service than these joker companies.

    Seriously, how hard is to to provide full coverage (with the latest fastest mobile data technology) to a small island? Shouldn’t be hard at all.

  7. am looking at this from both side when antiguan get rob from both company for years but now the same company want we all should come on them side when the table turn on them
    ( can someone tell me if them happy with the service them getting from both company now )

  8. PROTECT WHAT CUSTOMERS??? Next thing they’re going to say is THE SKY IS PINK. Teefing, lyadd, wikkid Digicel???

  9. This is again another example of government being both regulator law maker enforcer of regulations and still peimary competitor in a sector. How is the private sector expected to compete when the playing field is neither level or fair. There certainly needs to be a separation of powers in order for transparency and accountability to be achieved.

    • Are you Joan Underwood? She promised to beat Max Fernandez and then claim she got a job offer at the last minute. I wonder How’s the “patriotism” thingy working out. Ditch the UPP and her country in favour of self aggrandizement. Some “patriot” she is.

    • some dunce people live in Antigua put politics in everything and I was live here cause most who love run them don’t even come from here.
      Digicel and flow too thief

  10. I have an idea, that will benefit all. Why not level the playing field, start delivering quality service and let the better serive provider win.This babd and fort doesnt justify one thing.

  11. Reading thse comments, just reminds me that ppl in Antigua have a habit of talking about what they dont understand….. Geez…. does anyone actually understand what digicel is complaining about or is just based on anger towards the company for its terrible service?

    • Brethen by your admitting their service is awful, you are actually agreeing with the point others are making that Digicel does not care about its customers. If persons felt they offered value for money there would not be this kin of outcry against those pirates

      • I agree ppl should be angry at digicel, but does not answer my question. Does anyone actually understand digital spectrum allocation? or any of what digicel arguing about, whats the point of chiming in with rage towards the company for unrelated matters. If my house burn down and all the comments are about the money i tief down the road then whats the point?

  12. Protect the customers from what? Is the customers need protection from digicel. And what is digicel protecting. This crappy service they call 4g internet. I get edge most of the time. It’s a good thing the government will force digicel to rebuild its network since it will be good for the customers with their shitty service.

  13. Digicel, the former administration put you in a privileged position. For many months I paid for you crappy and sometimes no service. Go cry somewhere else.

  14. Thats a joke ! Digicel is the worst cellphone company in the caribbean, their service is slow and unreliable… !!! To protect customers, more like to protect the tons of future cash they will make with us stupid customers!!!

  15. Wonder if Mr. Dwayne Tulloch is reading these comments or he is outside on a smoke break? Btw what has become of Charlesworth Samuel son who was in charge of Digicel? Was he kicked to the curb?

    • @Hmmmmmmm- The Samuel person you’re enquiring about is the one who created this mess in the first place,he was the one who gave away the spectrum backed by the then Minister of Information.

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