By Monique Washington
Digicel Play cable and Internet customers have been hit with a price increase that some say they knew nothing about.
On Tuesday, a Digicel Play representative told the Observer that the increase became effective on August 1. Cable customers said they saw monthly increases of $5.85, while Internet customers saw a $10 increase.
The Observer contacted The National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) Director Ervin Williams on Thursday to find out is the increase was approved but wished to have “no conversation” at this time about the matter.
“The NTRC as established pursuant to the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority Treaty and the Telecommunications Act 2 of 2000 as amended to regulate the newly liberalized Telecommunications market in St. Kitts and Nevis in collaboration with the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) and to ensure fair competitive practices by Telecommunications providers and to promote and maintain high quality Telecommunications services at fair and competitive prices for consumers,” their site reads.
ECTEL’s Public Consultations are designed to ensure that all stakeholders including Telecommunications Providers and the General Public are involved in the decision making process coordinated by ECTEL and the member NTRC’s.
Celia Johnson Archibald distraught customer, wrote a “Letter to the Editor” that appeared in the May 20 edition of The Observer. They complained about Spanish speaking advertisements, removal of channels, and outage of cable without anything communication to customers.
On Wednesday the Observer contacted Justin John, Digicel Play operations manager, who explained the price increase. John said more channels were added and “by changing our contents we had to make some changes to our prices as well.” He said price information about the price increase was “communicated to every single Mobil number on our customer base, it was spoken about on all our radio programs on Freedom FM and Choice and it was sent as a message on digital service.”
“We have heard the complaints but no matter what service you offer any price increase will result in complaints from some customers, particularly if they are dissatisfied with the service,” John said.
“Digicel Play did not increase our new broadband plan,” John said. “The broadband 10, 25 and 50 plans have not been changed. The increase is on our Legacy broadband plan.” He added that they are now trying to remove the Legacy Broadband plan from the system.
“We cannot facilitate the amount of Legacy plans in our system right now,” John said. He added that the new plan will be much cheaper for customers.
John said that the problem with the channels sticking have been reduced over the past months.
“The channel sticking has been reduced and has continued to be reduced tremendously as we speak. We are working with the regional team to have it eliminated altogether,” he said.
John indicated that at present the company is operating two individual cable networks in Nevis, analog and digital, which is very costly. He said Digicel Play is trying to transition all customers to digital by the first quarter of 2017.
In a previous interview with Sean Latty, Digicel Play CEO, he told The Observer about 50 percent of the company’s customers have switched to digital service. On Wednesday, John said the company is “nowhere close to finished” switching customers to digital service.
John said the company wants to give their customer the best content possible, and is attempting to eliminate the problems they have heard about.
“We want to give a seamless transition between analog and digital,” John said.
When asked if Digicel Play has lost customers due to the content changes and price increases, John noted they have “not seen any significant decrease in our customer base.”
“We try to offer Nevis customers what they want and what they need,” John concluded.