By K. Quincy Parker
Nassau Guardian Business Editor
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Questions abound among Bahamians given the news that WhatsApp has dropped its subscription fees and that Bahamas Telecommunications Company’s (BTC) parent company has entered into a partnership with the social media powerhouse.
BTC on Thursday sought to answer those questions, announcing that it will not charge to “chat with your friends and family”. The company did point out that since BTC is the only operator to exclusively provide this service, any new mobile operator providing cellular service in The Bahamas will not be able to provide the same type of WhatsApp service and benefits to its customers.
The company said, “Do not mind the noise in the market. BTC likes WhatsApp ... they are our friends. We won't be charging you to chat with your friends and family.”
The company said the partnership between WhatsApp and BTC’s parent company Cable and Wireless does not change the way BTC treats the WhatsApp application, or charges for it.
“It's business as usual.
"Customers will still require an active mobile data plan to allow them the connectivity needed to use WhatsApp. However, any new mobile operator providing cellular service in The Bahamas will not be able to provide the same type of WhatsApp service and benefits to its customers since BTC will be the only operator to exclusively provide this service,” the company said.
According to a statement on the telecoms utility’s social media page, customers will continue to have unrestricted access to WhatsApp.
“However, in the near future, as a result of this partnership and as our suite of products and services evolve, we will be developing and offering our customers new and different types of WhatsApp data packages that give customers more value for money ... For BTC customers there will be no change to their use WhatsApp. Customers will still require a working internet connection to access WhatsApp either by subscribing to a mobile data plan, or by accessing to a WIFI connection.”
Cable & Wireless (C&W) and WhatsApp announced earlier this year that they had entered into a strategic marketing partnership, which the marketing materials said offers C&W customers access to the full range of WhatsApp features across the company’s networks.
“As a result of this partnership, C&W will introduce a suite of innovative packages with additional benefits for customers, which will be unveiled across all its markets in the coming months,” the company said, adding that Cable & Wireless’s brands – Flow, BTC, and LIME – are currently the only officially authorized providers of WhatsApp data bundles in the Caribbean region.
And last month, WhatsApp announced that it would no longer charge subscription fees.
“Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today's announcement means we're introducing third-party ads. The answer is no. Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight. We all get these messages elsewhere today – through text messages and phone calls – so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam,” WhatsApp said, perhaps pointing the way to these new services BTC foreshadowed.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian