ICE creates new barrier to halt auction for cell phone service

The former telephone monopoly, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, has thrown up another roadblock in an effort to halt opening the market to private competition.

The company listed a litany of reasons Tuesday why private companies should not connect with its lines. It said that public resources should not be used for the benefit of private companies.

The position is likely to cause more prolonged legal delays in opening the cell phone market. The Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones is poised to announce an auction for bandwidth for private firms.

The public resources the company known as ICE means are the telephone networks. The company also said that for 47 years the networks have been paid by the users.
Although the new services being proposed are mobil telephones, they would have interconnectivity with the fixed line services so cell users can call phone customers regardless of the type of receiver they have.

The Superintendencia approved a rate for interconnection Nov. 12 that ICE said is below its costs. The company said it was defending the national interests in letter and spirit.

An organization that represents employers quickly took issue with the telecom company and said that the firm continues to obstruct the opening of new telephone services. It said the company was acting contrary to the will of the public that was expressed in the Oct. 7, 2007, referendum that addressed, in part, the opening of the telephone system as part of the impact of the Central American Free Trade Treaty. The employer organization is the Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado.

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