It is difficult to remain non-committal in the face of the farcical statements, righteous indignation and blame-naming by so many who have long known the facts concerning the present redundancies at BTC.
Whilst it is regrettable that employees must lose their jobs at BTC or anywhere else for that matter, particularly in these difficult economic times, it is well known that competition in telecoms and lower prices for services come firstly at the expense of cutting operating costs, and specifically, lower staff costs.The redundancies should therefore not be a surprise to anyone because the history of the long road to rightsizing BTC is well documented in the public space.
In March 1997, the FNM was returned as the government with an impressive majority in Parliament. Included in the FNM's platform for its second term was the privatization of the then monopolist telecommunications Corporation, in keeping with international practices of the day.
Being the Bahamians that we are, few of us noted this inclusion in the party platform and even fewer of us understood the concept of privatization and what it would involve, nor, in the heat of the campaign did we even care.
A year later, in March 1998, when the Cabinet engaged Deutsche Bank as the lead consultant for the Corporation's privatization preparation, scant attention was again the order of the day, until September of 1998 when Deutsche produced its report.
The report was a reality check, a dash of cold water in a complacent and bloated corporation that provided its 2,200 employees with a cradle to grave financial security system,thanks to powerful unions which ensured employee compensation, regardless of competency or work ethics.
"How can you rape an underage girl and then post pictures of her online?"
That was the question posed by the grieving mother of Rehteah Parsons, who says her daughter was never the same after four boys sexually assaulted her two years ago.
When a cellphone picture of the alleged assault was circulated around her Nova Scotia high school, Rehtaeh immediately dropped out, and eventually committed suicide. Her funeral was held on Saturday.
The initial police investigation had ended with no charges filed, due to lack of evidence, but following public pressure the police reopened their investigation. A large part of that pressure was a threat by the hacker group, Anonymous, to identify the boys online.
In 2009 a New York City emergency medical technician faced misdemeanor charges after being accused of taking a picture of a female murder victim and posting it to his Facebook page.
"In a difficult economy you need investor confidence and consumer confidence to get going ." -- khaalis Rolle. minister of state for investments
In 1997 the Free National Movement ran for re-election on a platform that explicitly called for the privatization of BaTelCo - the state-owned telecoms monopoly that everyone loved to hate for its studied incompetence and don't-give-a-crap arrogance.
Even before then, the Pindling government (no paragon of privatization) had held confidential talks with UK-based Cable & Wireless about selling a stake in BaTelCo. But after its landslide re-election in 1997, the FNM launched a formal privatization process. And the PLP continued that process throughout Perry Christie's first term.
We are all too familiar with the more recent history. The FNM continued the privatization process after it returned to office in 2007, and set about reforming the communications sector's regulatory framework. But after more than a dozen years only one major telecoms provider had come forward - Digicell, which later pulled out of the running.
In 2010, Cable & Wireless Communications, a major industry player with a long history in the region, expressed an interest in BTC and eventually agreed to buy 51 per cent for some $210 million - following extensive due diligence by both sides. The sale was ratified by parliament in April 2011, ending an ignominious 13-year saga, and the Bahamian telecoms market will finally be liberalized in 2014, when BTC's mobile monopoly expires.
It's not often that professional critics like Tough Call feel the need to offer kudos to those in office.
After all, they can draw on the multiple resources of the state (including a $2.5 million-a-year "information service") to stroke themselves. And hopefully, the constructive criticism contained in this column is at least partly responsible for moving things along.
However, in the case of the Montagu foreshore we intend to make a big exception. Frankly, it was easy to believe that this multi-dimensional problem would never be effectively addressed by any government. A horrifying thought.
That dread feeling was appropriately boiled down in this quote from Dr Kathleen Sullivan Sealey, a University of Miami marine biologist who lives in Montagu Heights and has been studying Nassau harbour and other marine areas of the Bahamas for many years.
"if we can't fix the Montagu ramp," she said incredulously, "we can't fix anything in this country."
Well, it has taken more than 20 years, and a lot of handwringing and behind the scenes effort, but finally the multiplicity of issues affecting the Montagu foreshore are being addressed. The response is not perfect, but a brief look at the record is instructive - and credit should be given where it is due.
The unmistakeable symptom which demonstrated that BTC was becoming a dinosaur with diminished capacity surfaced as the bottom fell out of its long distance market almost overnight. On the way to losing its outdated status as a state monopoly, the company started exhibiting the classic stages of grief.
First, BTC stuck its head in the sand, attempting to use legal tactics and lame arguments as to why it should maintain a laughing-all-the-way-to-the-bank monopoly with outrageously high rates.
Those rates continued to suck endless millions from businesses and homes despite long distance charges plummeting around the world, thanks to innovations from the internet to fibre optic cable and mobile phones. In addition to rapidly changing technologies, the economics of telecommunications was upended globally even as BTC remained in the first stages of grief: denial and anger.
BTC did attempt the next stage, bargaining. With fanfare it announced its introduction of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) to The Bahamas. The announcement of ViBe was curious as the company tried to convince customers that this was a revolution in long distance service. Too little. Way too late.
Frankly, I am sick and tired of all those forwarded emails peddling scams, lies and hate propaganda.
This irksome correspondence used to derive mostly from unsophisticated internet users who thought they were doing their friends and relatives a favour by sending a useful safety tip or an interesting take on the news. But now it seems almost everyone is getting into the act - even well-educated and otherwise level-headed folks - and the information they are peddling grows more outrageous by the day.
Why is this? Well, as one blogger put it recently, "these forwards are not just a way of spreading an idea efficiently, they are a way of getting people to commit to the idea, or deepen their commitment, by the very act of forwarding it. This is a dangerous practice in a democracy: getting people to commit to ideas and beliefs which may be false, without any regard to the actual evidence."
The most egregious recent example came from a lawyer friend, and it had already been forwarded by several other Bahamian lawyers as a cautionary word to the wise. The email featured a link to a video, which purported to show the former health minister of Finland, Dr Rauni Kilde, warning that the swine flu vaccine is actually a bio-weapon intended to cripple the immune system for purposes of population control.
Last year, BTC introduced a new look as part of a plan to "foster improvement on every level of the communications spectrum."
The new corporate clothing retired BTC's earlier slogan - "Your First Choice" - in favour of a slightly less risible one claiming to be our "Connection to the World". This was a step toward "evolving and re-branding the company," the press releases said.
But evolution at BTC resembles creationism more than science - in other words, this is the way it always has been, and that's the way it will stay. It's been almost a decade since we started talking about BTCs privatisation as a matter of urgency, and ain't nothing happen yet, although State Finance Minister James Smith pops up every now and then with an optimistic update.
The Internet was under attack last week by hordes of politicos camped in Tunisia for the United Nations-sponsored World Information Summit.
Their attack was launched two years ago, when 175 countries agreed to build “a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented (global) Information Society.”
Their plan called for implementation of e-government, e-business, e-learning and e-health services, among other initiatives, around the world.
You might not know it, but our government published an e-commerce policy five years ago, and by next year we may have real government services online, like business and driver’s licenses. We are ahead of some countries, but way behind many.
While bridging the digital divide sounds wonderful, the real issue at last week’s conference was internet governance. The gloriously democratic World Wide Web is threatened with a takeover by a bunch of politically-directed bureaucrats whose first thought will be censorship.
“A weblog, or blog, is a personal journal on the web. Some blogs are highly influential and have enormous readership while others are primarily intended for a close circle of family and friends.”
Blogging is all the rage these days.
According to Technorati, which tracks these things, there are over 20 million blog sites on the Internet (including this site and several other Bahamian blogs described below).
Some trace their origin to diarists like Samuel Pepys, a 17th century Englishman who wrote a renowned daily record of life during interesting times. In fact, you can find his blog on the Internet today at pepysdiary.com.
Blogging’s biggest impact is that it has lowered the publishing bar: ”It used to take a great deal of time and money to get a message to thousands or even millions of people,” said Rick Hallihan at Blobservations.net, ”Now, anyone can start a blog for free.”
There’s been lots of hype lately about the 10th anniversary of the World Wide Web.
But the Internet has existed in one form or another since 1969, and was conceived even earlier. In fact, there are more Internet birthdays and inventors than you can shake a stick at.
Yet for most of us the Internet did appear 10 years ago, when a start-up company called Netscape introduced a commercial browser to surf the Web. And it was Netscape’s explosive public offering in August, 1995 that marked the birth of the Internet age.
Like the development of radar in World War 2 - the Internet’s roots go back to the darkest days of the Cold War. In a sense, it was Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev who launched the Internet in 1957 when he sent Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, into Earth orbit.