Digicel launches price war


By Jeannine Klein Menzies- Royal Gazette

Just one week after entering the Bermuda market, Digicel is continuing its push to gain market share with unheard of prices for cell phones and data solutions and extra subscriber minutes.
The company, which moved into the mobile telecommunications market after buying out Cingular Wireless operations in Bermuda and the Caribbean aims to boost its share of in the local mobile and data market in the short-term from 20 to 40 percent.
Its strategy has been sure and swift starting with an over-the-top pre-launch party complete with fireworks and free mobile phones for invited guests last Thursday. The next morning the company painted city sidewalks red and white and dropped the price of cell phones and other equipment to levels never seen before in Bermuda. As a Christmas special, the Nokia 2600 mobile phone is priced at $19 with activation.
Digicel’s launch has prompted CellularOne and M3 Wireless, formerly known as Mobility, to reduce prices on their phones as well and launch their own marketing campaigns. However an LG flip phone was the lowest priced phone in CellularOne’s store yesterday at $57 while M3 Wireless has dramatically slashed the price of its Nokia 3120 phone from $139 to $49.
Digicel claims the lowest effective rate per minute on the Island although this claim really boils down to the extra free minutes that the company offers customers calling other Digicel customers.
The $37 Digicel plan offers 100 anytime minutes plus 200 extra minutes to other Digicel subscribers. M3 Wireless offers 100 anytime minutes plus 100 extra minutes to other M3 subscribers for $33 while CellularOne offers 100 minutes plus 100 extra minutes to other CellularOne subscribers for $37, according to sales clerks in the stores. The latter two companies offer free nights and weekends for an additional charge.
Cheryl Packwood, General Manager, Digicel said local sales have been “steady and strong” since the company entered the market last week with the store very busy since the minute they opened the doors.
Digicel is enhancing its push into the market with an additional promotion that features a chance too win a Peugeot 1007 as well as other prizes including IPOD shuffles and MP3 players.
Ms Packwood said yesterday that the company is also looking at offering free incoming minutes as it does for subscribers in other jurisdictions, however any possibility of implementing such system here depends on a change of regulation at the ministerial level.
“We are planning on mirroring the other jurisdictions though and additionally we want to provide the best and most competitively priced offerings for all of our customers. Bermuda is currently on a Billing Keep regime which Digicel supports in this market. Incoming minutes free is among a variety of products which we are looking at,” Ms Packwood said.
End of story.
Wow! Just as expected, the Digicel arrival in Bermuda is similar to other regions they have entered. Shaking up the local market. While this may be a good strategy in other countries and they have indeed proved this, it remains to be seen in Bermuda.
I often say that Bermuda consumers are not always fooled or lured by cheaper prices. I think local consumers here are much smarter than that. They want and demand value. So as long as the lowered pricing contains real value and allows the carriers to keep adding new higher quality products and services that the public want, who can argue? Certainly not I.

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