Express Business Filler #1

DIGICEL has sent rival mobile provider TSTT a strongly worded letter calling on it to desist from refusing to operate number portability or face legal action.

Digicel’s letter was sent on Friday to TSTT’s CEO Ronald Walcott and the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) acting CEO, Cynthia Reddock-Downes. The letter alleges TSTT has been illegally blocking thousands of customers wishing to transfer their mobile numbers to Digicel.

In the four-page letter, Digicel outlined a number of infringements by TSTT as it relates to allowing customers to freely move with their numbers between the competing networks. Digicel alleges this is an infringement under the Telecommunications Act.

The letter further stated that if TSTT continues with the unlawful actions, Digicel reserves the right to seek legal redress.

TATT said it is aware of an interruption in porting (transferring numbers) between TSTT and Digicel which has resulted in some disruption and inconvenience to customers.

“The Authority apologises for this interruption in service and is working with both providers to resolve the issue,” said the TATT statement.

Several TSTT customers took to the Digicel’s Facebook page to express their dissatisfaction with being denied the possibility of porting their numbers to the Irish-owned company.

One businessman, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Express he tried to port his client’s number over to Digicel and the process which normally takes 24 hours is taking over a month to be completed.

“I called TSTT about it and they told me it would take three days and to date the transaction has not been completed,” the businessman said.

Contacted for comment, TSTT said last week Monday that while it acknowledges that porting is a two-party process, which has been in existence since 2016, the majority State-owned company empathises with any challenges Digicel may be experiencing with its network regarding the port-in of customers.

“We can confirm that from our end of this process, TSTT is currently able to facilitate these transactions in either direction and in full compliance with all technical protocols as mandated by our regulator.

“We wish our fellow operator the very best in its efforts to resolve any technical difficulties it may be experiencing on its end. We reiterate TSTT’s commitment to working with Digicel to validate all network-to-network protocols as Digicel attempts to overcome its recently published challenges.”

In response to TSTT’s comments, Digicel said its competitor has rejected the requests of over 2,000 of its subscribers wishing to port their numbers to the Digicel network.

Digicel’s local CEO, Jabbor Kayumov, said: “Over the past year, we have made significant investments to ensure that we have the best and most reliable customer focused network right here in Trinidad & Tobago. We are excited that these 2000 subscribers have made their choice to switch network provider.”

TSTT’s reference to Digicel’s challenges is thought to refer to the comprehensive deleveraging process by Digicel that aims to reduce its outstanding debt by about US$1.6 billion, to approximately US$5.4 billion.

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