Channel 5 – Telecom Chief Not Thrilled With VoIP Ruling

Original Story:

http://www.channel5belize.com/archive_detail_story.php?story_id=16521 

But while the company is pleased with its success in parks, B.T.L. is peeved regarding the decision of the Public Utilities Commission regarding Voice over the Internet Protocol, VoIP. According to Boyce, they are still digesting the contents of the new policy and have asked for clarification of certain areas. But B.T.L. is warning consumers that while the P.U.C. verdict might translate into cheaper international calls, they also need to be aware of the consequences.

Dean Boyce, Chair, B.T.L. Executive Committee
“B.T.L. is making large profits on international and losing money on other local services. That has to be addressed, and it seems to be completely ignored in all of this. So we will talk to the P.U.C. and try to come to some kind of understanding, but that’s the issue. There’s no point in saying well we can bring people in who can provide lower international prices, that’s a really silly statement, because we can do it. If all we were doing is running an international business, we could do the same thing tomorrow. We could bring all the prices down by three quarters.”

Janelle Chanona
“But isn’t that competition? I mean, B.T.L. has been there for so long by itself.”

Dean Boyce
“But somebody has to then say to us, okay, you can increase the prices of services that you were charging to other remote locations where you are not making a profit, in fact you are losing large amounts of money. You charge them at cost plus. If somebody says to us, you can charge everybody at cost plus basis, that’s great. It’s nothing to do with competition. This is historically the policy of the government and the regulator to take money from one part of the community and subsidize another. I won’t say B.T.L. is exactly Robin Hood, but we’re not the Sheriff of Nottingham. Two years ago, three years ago, we implemented the G.S.M. project that cost sixty million dollars. So these are not small amounts of money. And we’re not just cherry picking Belize City, Orange Walk, the way that some people would like to, it’s the whole country and it’s very expensive. So I think that our track record will say that we’ve reinvested over the years.”

According to Boyce, B.T.L.’s next large capital investment will be a wireless network that will blanket the whole country. On Friday, the Public Utilities Commission ruled that while B.T.L. can block services such as Vonage, it must allow consumers to access subscriber programmes such as Skype, MSN and Yahoo messenger services.

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