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Standards of Service for Telecommunications PDF Print

Printed in the "Business Monday" newspaper on November 30th, 2009

Towards the end of 2008 the Fair Trading Commission (Commission) issued Standards of Service consultation papers on electricity and telecommunications. Everyone takes it for granted that when you pick up your telephone that it will function and function well. However, when this service does not work as it should customers quite rightly demand answers as to why. These complaints are covered under the standards of service. For the purpose of this article we will be looking at how Cable & Wireless (Barbados) Limited (C&W) performed under the Standards of Service for the year 2008/2009. 

Section 3 (1) of the Utilities Regulation Act CAP.282 gives the Commission the authority to determine standards of service, monitor these standards to ensure compliance and carry out periodic reviews of these standards of service. The standards of service as they relate to telecommunications apply only to the landline services of C&W.

Standards of Service are divided into two areas, Guaranteed Service Standards and Overall Service Standards. Guaranteed Standards of Service require that the utility company make a compensatory payment to each individual customer who is affected by the utility company’s failure to meet the specific target. The Overall Standards are designed to assess the overall performance of the company and are not defined by the service which an individual customer receives. The standards also include details of exemptions. Exemptions refer to situations where the Commission considers that failure to meet the standards is outside the control of the utility company.

C&W is required to provide the Commission with quarterly and annual reports indicating the level of compliance in reaching the targets of each service category for both guaranteed and overall standards. The Commission staff critically analyses this information and the company is required to provide reasons in cases where it has not met the standards.

The annual reports for the years 2008/2009 show that C&W has indeed met its obligations under the Standards of Service and seem to have done better than the year ended 2008. For example, in terms of installation of services, the average percentage compliance for this standard for residential customers was 90.64% for the 12-month period April 01, 2008 to March 31, 2009 compared to 86.14% recorded for the same period ending March 31, 2008. Installation for business customers averaged 75.28% for the same period compared to 68.53% for 2007/2008.

Fault repair continues to be a challenge particularly during the rainy season. Percentage compliance for residential service for the period was 71.48% for the 2008/2009 year compared to 60.61% for the 2007/2008 year. Percentage compliance for business service for 2008/2009 was 79.15% compared to 76.74% for 2007/2008.

In respect of repeated loss of service, C&W achieved 95.03% compliance for 2008/2009 compared to the 95.13% compliance for the 2007/2008 year for residential service. Compliance for business services for 2008/2009 was 97.52% compared to 95.7% for business service for the same period in the previous year. Complaints sent by facsimile to C&W require a response in five working days for both residential and business customers. C&W’s acknowledgement of complaints delivered by facsimile for residential phones had an average of 90.49% for the 2008/2009 year compared to an average of 89.06% for the previous year. The response to business service complaints sent by facsimile to C&W averaged 94.99% compliance for the same period. No breaches or instances were recorded for letters delivered to C&W either by business or residential services.

In the case of reconnection after disconnection, the compliance rate for residential service achieved 99.75% for the 2008/2009 year compared to 99.91% compliance for 2007/2008. No breaches of the target were recorded for business service for the 2008/2009 year compared to the 99.92% compliance recorded for the 2007/2008 year.

Wrongful disconnection for the two-year period showed that C&W achieved 85.71% compliance for residential service for 2008/2009, compared to 83.89% compliance for 2007/2008. There were no breaches recorded for business service in the 2008/2009 year compared to 25% recorded for business service in 2007/2008.

In terms of the overall standards of service, C&W was able to attain and exceed most of the minimum levels stated in the Overall Standards of Service. The only area which C&W failed to achieve the minimum level was for Fault Repair OTS 1, which averaged 76.71% for the 12-month period. The reasons advanced for this significant shortfall in performance were heavy unseasonal rainfall during the months of December and January, and damage to its underground cables due to various road works across the island.

The full compliance reports can be found on the Commission’s website.

If you have any questions email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , call us at 424-0260 or visit our website www.ftc.gov.bb. You may also visit our offices at ‘Good Hope’, Green Hill, St. Michael.

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