Internet is a basic human right.

While the majority of the world’s population now believes (4 of 5 according to a bbc report) that Internet access shall be a human right and be regarded such as basic infrastructure like roads, electricity and water, here in Maldives we are still in the dark ages of information technology. Majority of our Internet services are provided by Dhiraagu which is still believed to be the world’s worst telephone company. This is despite the fact that here in Maldives we can try every new telecommunications technology thanks to lack of big legacy systems which would have to suffer come any new technologies. Other big countries already with legacy infrastructure might have to worry about costs of revamping up to the new systems but here we are ‘a free new country’ open to all options.

The long lists of things we don’t have here is indeed long and in top of the list there will be:

1st; consumer protection.
2nd; choice.
3rd; recourse to judicial proceedings
4th; fair price

And there are very good reasons why we do not seem to have them too.

1. there is no consumer protection because there are no laws for it. Its not peculiar to telecom customers and we have more pressing issues like lack of laws for money laundering, dealing with counterfeit currency etc. Even now police have in custody a currency counterfeit suspect who will be released the moment he will be presented to court! Its understood that police and PG are in talks to frame the criminal in a ‘bindable’ case so as to let the justice prevail.

2. choice: There was no choice till Wataniyya came and it came too late and too slow. Prior to Wataniyya there were the dreaded price sheets we (older batches of resort receptionists will remember this) would rather hide than show to guests for fear of open revolt simply because the rates were beyond reason! The rates were international calling rates from Dhiraagu and the rates were simply preposterous. Like 10$ per one minute etc..

3rd; recourse to judicial proceedings: This is very tricky issue as our courts are very selective in the proceedings and anything can be expected. We do not blame the courts and its all down to law makers to make suitable laws, the police to submit suitable evidence, and arrangements for witness protection programs etc in case witnesses were subjected to threats and intimidation..

4th; fair price… This is not common or understood terminology in Dhiragu it seems. Ask any Sri Lankan or Indian about the prices they pay in their respective countries for the same services they get here and be mildly surprised. eg; Even for their latest gadget, the wireless modem is hopelessly overcharged cos its still limited. 2500rf first plus 250rf each month is still way too expensive for a limited Internet package which can be used only for reading news headlines or email headers..

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