Op-Ed: Approving OneLink sale would green-light costlier services
As a long-time OneLink subscriber, I have personal knowledge of its service and the value of its offerings. I recently moved to the western part of the island, where I have been able to compare services with other providers such as Claro and Choice Cable. They offer asuperior range of offerings for a substantially lower cost.
In some cases, service-to-service comparison renders that OneLink overcharges two to three times for similar services and frequently offers inferior services for a costlier contract.
As my present contract expired, I tried to lower the cost to be able to have service in my new location while maintaining basic service in my San Juan metropolitan area home. The lowest package OneLink had to offer was an inferior channels list, an inferior digital offering, one telephone line, no HD service, and no recording box for close to $160.
For that amount, Claro offered two services in two locations: Guaynabo and Cabo Rojo, digital TV including HD and a recording box. Choice also offers digital channels, a superior Internet service and recording box with HD for close to $70. So clearly, both companies offer superior service for almost half the cost of OneLink’s inferior service.
End-to-end, the price valuation for OneLink is clearly based on its status as a sole provider that is abusing clients because the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Regulatory Board allowed the conditions for them to become a “de facto” monopoly in the San Juan metro area.
Now, by approving this transaction at this price ($582.5 million) the TRB would be, “de jure,” approving the conditions that would unfairly make the service costlier for metro clients forever. If Liberty pays this amount of money for this transaction, it will never be able to offer competitive prices for the metro area because of the cost of this acquisition.
I urge the TRB to object the price as stated and require an independent valuation of OneLink’s infrastructure at cost of replacement and a certain premium discounted to prevent an undue profit by OneLink that will forever limit the possibilities of metro clients to have comparable costs for similar services already offered in other market areas.
A competitive rate analysis must also be part of the evaluation to be performed.
If the TRB approves this transaction, I believe federal authorities would have to intervene both against the deal and the agency for being involved in a transaction that limits the competition to metro area residents.
This armed robbery by OneLink must end now and forever. The TRB must act decisively to protect the metro area residents’ capabilities and rights to obtain digital services at competitive prices as other companies already offer elsewhere on the island.