Prime Minister Gaston Browne says the foreign-owned telecommunication companies, Digicel and Flow, could “jump high or jump low” but they will have to share the spectrum space in Antigua and Barbuda.
Last month, the Irish-owned Digicel defended its decision to secure a High Court order preventing the government from sharing any of the 850 MHz spectrum it has been allocated with the state-owned Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA).
But speaking on his private radio station here, Prime Minister Browne told listeners that Digicel and Flow, formerly the British telecommunication giant Cable and Wireless, would not survive any spectrum war against APUA and his administration.
He said his government was prepared to buy out Digicel operations here.
“I have already sent a message to the owner of Digicel to tell him that APUA is willing to buy them. So let’s talk. If that’s the way we need to resolve it and we are waiting for them to get back. So if one has to go it will not be APUA they better recognize that”.
Browne said he recognizes that the telecom space “is somewhat over crowded because the market is so small, it really probably justifies a monopoly or at best two players, so if one has to leave, I want to them it won’t be APUA.
“So between Digicel and Flow they need to make up their mind,” Browne told radio listeners, as he blamed the former administration of having “literally displaced APUA and gave Digicel all of the lucrative spectra”.
He said that APUA does not benefit from the revenue collected from roaming charges because it “does not have that type of low-frequency spectrum” and that the existing playing field is not equal.