Op-Ed: Approving OneLink sale would green-light costlier services

Written by  //  July 12, 2012  //  Biz Views  //  8 Comments

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Author Ramón Sánchez.

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.

8 Comments on "Op-Ed: Approving OneLink sale would green-light costlier services"

  1. Carlosrtirado July 12, 2012 at 7:16 AM · Reply

    Completely agree on the evaluation of Onelink inferior service and costlier price structure.

  2. Carlos Toro July 12, 2012 at 8:46 AM · Reply

    Great analisys. I suggest you put forth a petition on Change.org to solidify support for your position to present to the TRB, or Federal Justice Department. I would be willing to sign it.
    Carlos Toro

  3. Carol Alfonso July 12, 2012 at 8:46 PM · Reply

    What?  No HD in Puerto Rico?  How far behind are they?  Like 1987 or something? 

    • Israel Lopez September 18, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Reply

      Currently there are over 70 HD Channels, up from about 30 during the past two years. Who said there is no HD in San Juan?

  4. Rtyui July 12, 2012 at 9:20 PM · Reply

    You want the TRB to state the acquisition price of Onelink? I thought we had a free market! We are not in Venezuela. What the TRB should do is to encourage more competition, not what they do to make life miserable to Claro TV service. The government’s role should be to encourage and guarantee competition, not to establish sales price to a private company

  5. NewsismyBusiness July 23, 2012 at 5:11 PM · Reply

    A News is my Business reader contributed this information about OneLink’s current rates to counter some of the points in this column. The reader asked for his identity to be protected.

    Costos Básicos Servicios de OneLink:(Fuente: Servicio al Cliente OneLink (787) 250-7780) Cable TV:Servicio básico: $39.10 (solo)                                $29.99 (con otro servicio)                                $87.13 (con Internet y teléfono)              Básico expandido: $52.50 (solo)                                      $39.99 (con otro servicio)                                      $98.37 (con Internet y teléfono) Opciones de cajas digitales (Cable TV)Caja digital: Te deja ver programación de los canales Premium, On Demand y Pay Per View ($10.49 deposito 50)Caja digital DVR: Graba pero no tiene HD ($14.49 mensuales $100 de depósito reembolsable)Caja digital DVR/HD- Grabas y puedes ver programación en HD ($30.49 mensuales $100 de depósito reembolsable)  Internet:Servicio básico de 4M: $39.99 (solo)                                             $29.99 (con otro servicio)                                             $87.13 (con Internet y teléfono)  Telefonía: $21.99 (solo)                      $16.00 (con otro servicio)                      $87.13 (con Internet y teléfono) Puedo tener 2 líneas con el mismo número (la instalación de la línea adicional cuesta $22)

    • Guest July 29, 2012 at 8:42 PM · Reply

      Liberty will not raise their rates after complete the buy of One Link. The primary reason: competition. With Claro’s entry with IPTV, Liberty will face a strong competition. Actualy Liberty offers lower rates and more services than the ones with One Link. The big loosers will be the DTV companies, facing raising programming cost and have to take them as Direct TV has to do with Viacom. And Dish has currently a carriage dispute with AMC Networks. And DTV not have the advantage as Claro and Liberty, providing other services like Internet and phone.

  6. Israel Lopez September 18, 2012 at 11:35 AM · Reply

    Onelink is not as costly as you say, but I can only agree with one point: Onelink’s fastest internet speed is 6MBPS, while Liberty offers up to 10MBPS. Choice, available only on the West and South offers up to 50MBPS for a very high price (over $80). The problem with Choice is how unreliable the service is. I used to live in Mayaguez, and I would lose internet at least three nights a week.

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