You could be forgiven for thinking that Eddie Saints has an easy job.

Saints is CEO of Cable and Wireless Communications’ businesses in Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, which fall under the Sure Telecom brand.

These three idyllic island backwaters, which have a combined population of around 250,000, are perhaps best known as offshore tax havens for some of Europe’s richest citizens.

Look at Sure’s website and the “latest news” features stories about Christmas ice rinks and bowling alleys – in 2011.

So it’s something of a surprise when Saint’s, only half-jokingly, refers to our interview as “something of a therapy session”.

It’s equally unnerving when he reveals the source of his troubles – a lack of regulation.

That’s right, the CEO of an operator is demanding, even imploring for more regulation.

CWC is the €1.8 billion consumer part of the original Cable and Wireless business that split into two in 2010.

CWW, the enterprise part, was this week sold to Vodafone – a company whose CEO picked a fight with Brussels earlier this year over what he sees as overbearing regulation.

However, when it comes to talking about Jersey and the Isle of Man, Saints is the opposite end of the scale.

“Getting things done is like pulling teeth,” he said, muttering darkly about the anticompetitive behaviour of rivals and the abdication of responsibility of regulators.

Sure is the number two player behind incumbents Manx Telecom and Jersey Telecom in mobile, fixed voice and broadband.

The situation is particularly bad in the Isle of Man, according to Saints, who says he is at a loss to explain why the regulator will not update its laws that still “reflect the days of a monopoly”.

Sure entered the crown dependency in 2007 but is loss making despite investing tens of millions of euros.

The island’s communication commission admits the current regulation is not fit for purpose and began a strategic review in 2009, but no changes have come into effect since.

Saints says he has no idea of when changes will occur, adding that he has left meetings with the commission “knowing nothing will happen”.

While this situation persists, Manx Telecom has “clearly made anticompetitive moves, including price cutting,” claims Saints.

A press release on the commission’s website reveals there was an investigation into alleged breaches by Manx Telecom over mobile termination rates and tariffs in 2009.

However, following written assurances from the operator, the commission ruled that it “did not constitute an admission by Manx Telecom of any breach of its license conditions.”

Things are not much better in Jersey, where Saints said he is “struggling to get the business into a self-funding position” and providing some services at a loss.

The company is waiting for amendments to the existing regulation to be passed into law; Saints says it is possible this will happen by the end of 2012.

Again he pulls no punches, accusing incumbent Jersey Telecom of anticompetitive practice – “there are numerous example” – and says the regulator has “not paid enough attention to telecoms”.

It would be easy to write off these remarks off as the bitter ramblings of a business struggling to be profitable.

But when the authorities themselves admit there is a problem, you have to give the criticisms some credibility.

What’s more, research commissioned by CWC and carried out by law firm Watson, Farley and Williams, showed that of the 37 countries that CWC operates in, the Isle of Man hosts the second most ineffective system of telecoms competition law and regulation.

Saints also knows what it is to be number one – the company’s Guernsey business remains, as the former incumbent, the market leader.

The CEO has nothing but praise for the work Guernsey’s regulator has done to create what he calls “one of the best regulated markets I have ever worked in”.

To their credit, the regulators of Jersey and Guernsey created an umbrella organization 18 months ago in an attempt to provide some harmonization.

However, Saints says the pace of change has been too slow.

Can any blame be apportioned to CWC? For example, given they knew the regulatory situations before they entered the markets, how does the CEO respond to the charge that they were naïve or even mistaken to do so?

“We did know what we were going into,” admits Saints. “But all the right comments were being made [about changing the regulatory landscape.”

Despite these concerns, the CEO says the company is not about to cut and run.

“We are very committed to these islands. It would be easy to walk away, but we believe there will be change. All we want is a fair, level playing field.”

Have you signed up for our Big Data seminar on 3 May? Click here to register

More Features

Opinion: The strategic questions telcos must consider to succeed in smart cities Opinion: The strategic questions telcos must consider to succeed in smart cities By Ansgar Schlautmann, Global Head of the “Innovative Business Designs” competence Center at Arthur D. Little More detail
Q&A: Vodafone UK’s Head of Quad-Play Q&A: Vodafone UK’s Head of Quad-Play Guilhem Poussot, Head of Quad-Play at Vodafone UK, discusses the operator’s recent return to the retail fixed broadband market More detail
Opinion: Here’s how telcos can attract the best staff Opinion: Here’s how telcos can attract the best staff By Om Ruparel, Managing Director and Founder of digital recruitment agency, More detail
Q&A: Wind River’s Charlie Ashton Q&A: Wind River’s Charlie Ashton Charlie Ashton, Senior Director of Business Development for Networking Solutions at Wind River, discusses NFV. More detail
Opinion: Operators must be aware of the data issues around wearables Opinion: Operators must be aware of the data issues around wearables By Daniel Tozer, Partner, and Don Mee, Associate, at law firm Harbottle & Lewis More detail

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Using our website, you agree to our use of cookies

Learn more

I understand

About cookies

This website uses cookies. By using this website and agreeing to this policy, you consent to SJP Business Media's use of cookies in accordance with the terms of this policy.

Cookies are files sent by web servers to web browsers, and stored by the web browsers.

The information is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server. This enables a web server to identify and track web browsers.

There are two main kinds of cookies: session cookies and persistent cookies. Session cookies are deleted from your computer when you close your browser, whereas persistent cookies remain stored on your computer until deleted, or until they reach their expiry date.

Refusing cookies

Most browsers allow you to refuse to accept cookies.

In Internet Explorer, you can refuse all cookies by clicking “Tools”, “Internet Options”, “Privacy”, and selecting “Block all cookies” using the sliding selector.

In Firefox, you can adjust your cookies settings by clicking “Tools”, “Options” and “Privacy”.

Blocking cookies will have a negative impact upon the usability of some websites.


This document was created using a Contractology template available at

Other Categories in Features