By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Telecommunications operator CTM said they are open to direct discussion with unsatisfied customers, in response to a protest expressing frustration over high prices and slow Internet speed.
Yesterday a group of residents responded to a social network call for ‘planking’ outside of CTM’s Senado Square retail shop.
Planking involves lying face down in a public place with a straight body, arms outstretched against the body and toes pointing to the ground.
“I believe Macau is a fair and open society where people have freedom of speech. We still respect all of our customer opinions but we will encourage and promote a direct dialogue with them,” CTM chief Vandy Poon told reporters on the sidelines of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day celebration event yesterday.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s before or after the liberalisation [of the market]. I believe telecom and Internet services in Macau won’t lose out to those of other advanced or urbanised places in the world,” the CTM CEO responded.
The local telecommunications market will be fully liberalised by 2012.
“If some people started today [yesterday] to put efforts in striving for telecom market liberalisation, I think it’s a bit too late as it [liberalisation] is already an established fact,” Poon pointed out.
Yet he admitted, “CTM hopes to maintain its status as the main telecom service provider in Macau after the market is liberalised”.
Asked whether his company’s service tariffs may drop further next year, Poon said he “can’t make any promises” but added that, “through market and service expansion, there will be more room for us to do things that the Macau people can all agree with”.
Waiting for 2012
Nevertheless, the CEO disclosed that CTM is currently in talks with the Telecom Regulations Bureau (DSRT) about further reduction in the leased line service charges, following the last adjustment in 2010.
At a media gathering last month Poon announced that the service tariffs of corporate and residential broadband Internet services would be cut respectively in June and August this year.
The amount of reduction is still under consideration but he said Internet connection speed would also be enhanced.
The CEO disagreed that the move is a result of the ‘planking’ activity. “If it was true, telecom services didn’t need that many regulations,” he said.
Meanwhile, DSRT director Lawrence Tou Veng Keong told reporters that people usually experienced slow Internet connection when browsing foreign websites, adding that the speed is determined by ‘many technical factors’.
As Macau’s Internet infrastructure was built by one telecom operator CTM, Tou said when the market is fully liberalised in 2012 more licences will be issued to different operators in order to increase related infrastructure and facilities and enhance Internet speed.
On the other hand, some public antenna companies recently placed advertisements in local newspapers announcing an increase in service charges to MOP 30 per month.
Macau’s public antenna service is not licensed and thus not under DSRT regulation, Tou said, so any price adjustment is determined by the market and doesn’t require government approval.