Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
In its third phase of price reductions, the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) rolled out a permanent, repackaged post paid plan today, one that will offer the company’s 47,000 post paid customers lower calls and data rates and more texting.
The move is in line with the company’s mandate to improve customer service with more affordable rates.
“What this represent really is our next phase of rate reductions and value proposition creation to the Bahamian marketplace. In a nutshell, we are adding a tremendous amount of value to our postpaid offering,” said Marlon Johnson, BTC’s vice president of brand and communication.
Speaking at a press conference June 11, Johnson said customers would receive 20 per cent more talk time in the package offerings, with all postpaid customers receiving a quota of free text messages.
Prior to the switchover, only the top two tiers received free texts. Additionally, overage rates will decline “considerably” with the new package offerings. The changes took effect at 12:01 this morning.
Last December, BTC lowered data offerings for postpaid and prepaid customers. The company introduced a new line of rates for postpaid and dropped the prepaid data rates by 25 per cent. At the same time, the company launched its 4G network.
Samples of the latest postpaid rates include: 120 minutes plus 50 texts for $19.99; 200 minutes plus 100 free texts for $29.99; 450 minutes plus 150 free texts for $59.99; 800 minutes and 250 free texts for $99.99 and 1,200 minutes plus unlimited free texts for $139.99.
By comparison, prepaid minutes, whether purchased from phone card vendors or topped up online or at retail locations, cost about twice as much, with a $20 card or top-up entitling the customer to 60 additional minutes. A $60 card or top-up entitles the customer to 180 minutes.
Corporate rates replacing existing packages start at $99.99 a month for two subscribers with 1,300 minutes and 500 texts plus $10 for each additional user, up to 100 subscribers using 60,000 minutes for $2,600.
Existing customers automatically benefit from the changes.
“This isn’t a promotion,” said Johnson. “This is a permanent rate reduction and we’re adding free texts to all of their packages.”
Compared with the Unites States and regional markets with similar gross domestic product per capita (such as Barbados and the Cayman Islands), this latest wave of reduction puts The Bahamas on a more level footing, said Geoff Houston, BTC chief executive officer.
“We’re getting very close to being competitive regionally,” he said. “We think there is a still a little bit more work to be done.”
That work, the CEO said, had more to do with increasing the company’s efficiency and passing those savings along to customers, particularly when it comes to prepaid customers.
Houston said he believes prepaid pricing isn’t as competitive as it could be. He expects that to be addressed over the coming months.
Still, the company hopes to convince its 249,000 prepaid customers to change to post paid. Many Bahamians opt to “pay as they go” due to the deposit the telephone company requires. For the cheapest package ($19.99 a month) the deposit will now be around $100.
“When we became a partner with BTC in April last year, we laid out a whole strategic road map to transform and develop the BTC business,” said Houston, referring to the company’s privatization a little over a year ago. “The whole network transformation is one element of that. The whole restructuring of the company to become more customer focussed has been something that has preoccupied us for quite awhile over the last 12 months and we’ve also started to tackle the value for money agenda from a customer perspective.”
The company is spending in the region of $44 million on new 4G (for data) and 2G (for voice) network. The latter handles the majority of calls, but requires an upgrade as it is 10 years obsolete.
Both upgrades are expected to be completed by the end of summer.