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Friday, May 14, 2004

New Phone Rates Contributing to the Digital Divide in Malta

Last week the Malta Communications Authority approved higher telephone rates for landlines operated by Maltacom, Malta's online landline phone service provider. This price hike came just days after Maltacom announced an 11.8% increase in its operating profit.

The ISP Trade Section of the Malta Chamber of Commerce is now warning that the new tariffs "can only further widen the digital divide that all countries are doing their utmost to bridge rather than widen."

The new rates will undoubtedly have on impact on Internet use in the Maltese islands via dial-up accounts. There will be no more connecting to the Internet for the value of one pulse for several hours. On the up side, however, this may improve the performance of Internet dial-up services after 6pm from now on.

Like the ISP trade group, I am most surprised that whilst Maltacom requested a charge of a pulse per 60 minutes in off-peak hours, the approved charge is a pulse per 30 minutes. I really can't understand why a higher tariff than that requested by service provider was approved by the MCA.

I also wonder if there's a hidden agenda here to move all Internet users to broadband connections.

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