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‘Very high’ telecom charges prompt council debate

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The “very high cost” of telephone and internet services in St Helena has been debated by its  executive council – as Cable & Wireless seeks to negotiate a new exclusive deal to provide telecoms on the island.

The unscheduled discussion among councillors reflects discontent among islanders over the company’s monopoly, and the fees it charges.

The company’s television charges are also due to rise, though that is because of an improvement in service prompted by an unavoidable technical upgrade.

Charges for overseas phone calls compare unfavourably with those on the sister island of Tristan da Cunha, where telephone numbers have a London 0203 code – meaning calls can be made to and from the UK at domestic rates.

Governor Mark Capes disclosed the later disquiet in his report from the Executive Council meeting of 12 June 2012. He said:

“Under Any Other Business we received an update from the Financial Secretary on the ongoing discussion with Cable & Wireless in relation to their proposals for a new ten-year exclusive licence with St Helena Government.

“A robust discussion of the issues followed in which councillors registered mounting concern about the present very high cost of telecoms and of broadband internet services in particular.”

A campaign to route an undersea cable via St Helena to provide a fast broadband service is said to have been taken up by officials in London, but it is thought it would not significantly affect the cost of internet services on the island.

Efforts continue on St Helena broadband

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