Channel 7 – Musa Says VoIP Is Legal

October 19, 2006

Said, is Ralph operating on his own? Are you the boss anymore? BTL’s blocking of LEGAL VoIP methods has continued despite regulatory guidance specifically allowing it. Ralph and Dean are defying the June PUC ruling. You have allowed BTL to plead ignorance up until now. The leaked letter offers clear proof you have racketeering in your organization. What are YOU going to do about it? Who is the Prime Minister of Belize? Please remind us.

Original Story:

http://www.7newsbelize.com/archive/10180602.html

Last week the UDP released a September 18th letter from BTL Managing Director Dean Boyce to Public Utilities Minister Ralph Fonseca and PUC Chairman Roberto Young. The latter makes clear that BTL has been given assurances and undertakings from government and the Minister that the PUC’s voice over internet guidelines are not enforceable and the PUC will not implement them. Well today speaking on the subject for the first time since the story broke, the Prime Minister said that he only saw the letter in the newspaper, a full month after Boyce sent it to Fonseca. Still, he’s up to speed with it; he says the government has given no such undertaking…but as for any such assurances from Ralph Fonseca? On that one, he seemed not quite as certain.

Jules Vasquez,
Sir what is the government’s position on VoIP? Are the regulations which have propagated by the PUC, are those modified or have those been invalidated?

Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
“No they have not. As far as we are concerned, as far as the government is concerned, the PUC has put out the guidelines and we’ll be guided by that.”

Jules Vasquez,
Sir so have you seen the letter from Dean Boyce to the Minister of Public Utilities and the Chairman of the PUC and what then is the meaning of that, him saying that as far as he knows the agreements are not enforceable and will not be acted upon?

Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
“I’ve see the letter as published in the newspapers, yes, I don’t know what is the legal position, whether guidelines are strictly enforceable. What I do know is that we will comply with whatever the law requires under the Belize Telecommunications Act and of course it is the PUC that is in charge of regulating the whole question of telecommunication.”

Adele Ramos, Amandala Newspaper
Can the government override what the PUC says?

Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
“That’s a legal question.”

Adele Ramos,
Can the Ministry of Public Utilities, the government, can you override the PUC’s decision?

Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
“I am not sure that we can . I don’t believe we can but we have not, that’s the important thing.”

Jules Vasquez,
Sir has the government made a side agreement with BTL the way you made one with ICC and Jeff Prosser?

Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
“No, we have not.”

Jules Vasquez,
So the Minister of Public Utilities has not? You can declare that affirmatively?

Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
“I am not aware of any such assurance that has been referred to in Mr. Boyce’s letter.”

Jules Vasquez,
But one may exist that you may not be aware of?

Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
“Why ask me those speculative questions.”

Jules Vasquez,
But you’re the boss sir.

Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
“The Minister is out of the country.”

The PUC has been acting on its own, and by the Prime Minister’s, word inviting international bandwidth vendors to meet with Belizean license holders and discuss telecom opportunities discussions have proceeded briskly and fiber optic giant, the New World Network has entered negotiations to set up its own fiber network.


Guardian (BZ) – More PUP Lies And Betrayal – Ralph In The Middle Again

October 13, 2006

Original Story:

http://guardian.bz/lies.html

Belizeans were again shocked, but not surprised, that once again Minister of Public Utilities Ralph Fonseca is involved in another betrayal of Belizeans in favour of the Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL) and its majority owner Michael Ashcroft. Earlier this week, the opposition UDP released a copy of a letter addressed to Ralph Fonseca and the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Chairman from Dean C. Boyce for and on behalf of BTL.

The letter refers to Voice Over Internet (“VOIP”) Regulatory Policy and Framework Guidelines that were adopted and published by the PUC on June 13, 2006. Under tremendous public pressure, the PUC had held public consultations to arrive at its guidelines for VOIP and although many felt it stopped short of what they had in mind for effective introduction, regulation (or de-regulation) and operation of VOIP technology in Belize, they were satisfied that the PUC gave conditional go-ahead for the use of the technology.

But according to Boyce’s letter, Belizeans should not expect even the limited use authorized by the PUC in its Guidelines to come to fruition. The letter states that BTL is concerned about the implications of VOIP but that it had received assurances from the Government to the effect that the Guidelines are not enforceable and that the PUC would not seek to implement them. It further stated that BTL would like to get written confirmation on the “assurances” and that it will continue to operate on the basis of the assurances given.

Read the rest of this entry »


And Here Is The Proof! – UDP Press Release With Secret Dean Boyce Letter

October 12, 2006

Here is the full October 10, 2006 press release from the UDP:

The attached letter has been leaked to the United Democratic Party, and provides yet more disturbing proof of the government’s dishonesty to, and betrayal of, the people of Belize.

The UDP remembers the great fanfare with which the PUC sponsored open hearings on VOIP, and the force of public sentiment in favor of VOIP’s free use by Belizeans. When, after the hearings, the PUC published its guidelines on VOIP, the consensus was that those regulations did not go nearly far enough because they did not grant Belizeans unrestricted use of this cheap and easily available technology.

Now we learn that Government was always determined that even the minor concessions granted by the PUC would never be realized by the people of this country. It was always a shell game, with the Minister of Public Utilities guaranteeing BTL that not withstanding the PUC’s published guidelines, the public would continue to be shafted and BTL’s blocking of VOIP would continue to be maintained.

The perfidy of the Minister calls for the greatest possible condemnation and censure. His actions are immoral in the extreme. They also constitute another example of his continuing readiness to place himself above the law. After all, the PUC is the only legal regulatory telecommunications authority in this country. The frustration by the Minister of the PUC guidelines is as unconstitutional as his infamous SI recently struck down by the Supreme Court.

The UDP demands that the Prime Minister immediately make a statement, saying whether he knew of the Minister’s action. If he didn’t, then he must fire the Minister. And if he did, they must both resign.

Click HERE to read the letter. It is a JPG picture scanned from paper (on BTL letterhead), you may have to click it again to MAGNIFY once it is loaded into your browser.

 


LoveFM – GOVERNMENT BETRAYING THE BELIZEAN PEOPLE SAYS OPPOSITION

October 12, 2006

Barrow calls for Fonseca’s resignation… Where is this press release and the secret letter?  It is not on UDP or Guardian websites.  Please send the full press release to BFIC if you have it.

Original Story:

 http://www.lovefm.com/ndisplay.php?nid=4841

The United Democratic Party issued a release yesterday citing what it says is yet more disturbing proof of the Government’s dishonesty to and betrayal of the people of Belize.Love News spoke with UDP Leader Dean Barrow.

Hon. Dean Barrow: Leader of the Opposition

“Because of the letter that is attached to the press release a letter that was leaked to the party clearly by people who are very concerned over the fact that the regulation s or the guidelines published by the Public Utilities Commission or the PUC with respect to this much vexed issue this Voice over Internet Protocol issue as it turns out we have received a copy of a letter from by the Minister and the PUC it appears that Mr. Fonseca the Minister of Public Utilities has from the time of the publication of these guidelines from the PUC has been telling BTL that BTL doesn’t have to worry about the guidelines that those guidelines are not going to be enforced and that they will not be any ability on the part of other telecommunication services providers to make use of this Voice over Internet Protocol.”  

In their release the UDP is calling on Prime Minister Said Musa to fire Minister Ralph Fonseca.  

Hon. Dean Barrow: Leader of the Opposition

“What we want is for the Prime Minster to say did he know of this. This is a serious business that the Minister is saying that in effect the Government is taking the public for a ride the Government is taking the PUC for a ride and that the Government is bigger than the PUC. The PUC under the law is the body entrusted with regulating telecommunication and if the PUC publishes guidelines the Minister has no authority to override those guidelines. But clearly it’s the Minister who appoints the PUC and we know that the Minister can in fact if he wishes to frustrate what the PUC does by way of these guidelines and here it is that the Minister according to this letter had guaranteed BTL that he will   frustrate those guidelines and he is even suggesting perhaps that the PUC is perhaps in collusion with him and it was all a plot simply to fool the public. Well the impression that I have is that there are members of the PUC that are very very upset about what it is that the Minister has done. In any event we don’t know whether this was done by the Minister with the approval or even the knowledge of the Prime Minister and we need to hear if the Minister did this without informing the Prime Minister then the Prime Minister has to fire the Minister. This is a serious, serious breach of ethics breach of responsibility breach of trust. If it is and the Minister did tell the Prime Minister what he was doing and the Prime Minister was party to this charade and this betrayal to the Belizean public then the Prime Minister and the Minister have to resign.”

Ava Diaz: Love FM

“Do you see that happening Mr. Barrow?”  

Hon. Dean Barrow: Leader of the Opposition

“This Government seems to be immune to scandal in other word they continue to do things that out rages the Belizean public but they have no sense of decency such as would oblige to resign when they are caught as they now have been in respect to something like this. Still it is the job of the Opposition and I believe it’s the wider public to call on them to do the decent thing to do the right thing to do the proper thing and the right thing the proper thing the decent thing would be either for the Prime Minister to fire the Minister the Prime Minister did not know what was happening or if he did know for the two of them to go.”  

Leader of the Opposition Dean Barrow.


Channel 7 – UDP: Fonseca Gave BTL Assurance About Ban on VoIP

October 11, 2006

This should come as no surprise to any of us… but here is more proof that the GOB controls BTL and they are going to use it as a tool to squeeze every penny out of every Belizean. Not to mention keeping us in the stone age… The real question is can the UDP actually take this on as an issue or will they continue to hold their hands out?

Original Story: Coming Soon… Check out http://www.7newsbelize.com
Has government made another secret telecom agreement that will mean more expensive phone calls for you? The first secret agreement, seven of them actually, were contained in a letter that the Prime Minister wrote to then majority shareholder Jeffrey Prosser in February of 2004 when he agreed to illegalize voice over the internet calls. Well it seems that government has made similar promises to Michael Ashcroft’s companies when they replaced Prosser as majority shareholders.

The UDP today released a September 18th letter from BTL managing director Dean Boyce to Utilities Minister Ralph Fonseca and the PUC Chairman Roberto Young. It says basically that the voice over internet guidelines which were finalized in June, after many months of debate and a massive public forum, are just words on a paper, because government will not, in fact, can not implement them.

Boyce’s letter says, “BTL has received assurances from the Minister that the guidelines are not…enforceable obligations, and that the PUC will take no steps to enforce or implement their contents, in any way.” And while a ministerial assurance is one thing, a government undertaking is another, and that’s just what Boyce says he’s got in the next paragraph. It says, “BTL has been given an undertaking that no class license holder will be able to use, or permit use of voice over internet for any telecommunications traffic originating or terminating within Belize.” Boyce’s letter closes by saying that BTL will continue to operate on the bases of those assurances.

We were unable to reach PUC Chairman Roberto Young or Utilities Minister Ralph Fonseca for comment.

In a release attached to the letter, the UDP says it is a betrayal and that the “the public would continue to be shafted and BTL’s blocking of VoIP would continue to be maintained.” The UDP statement demands that the Prime Minister make a statement on it.


Channel 7 – VoIP Ban Will Hurt Clear Contact Ltd.

October 11, 2006

The cat is officially out of the bag on Clear Contact Ltd. They have been operating in stealth mode for several months. CC is actually a consortium of all of the large cable companies in the country along with some of our best technology and finance executives. Who knows why this latest BTL/GOB collusion revelation is scaring them? Their plan is to secure rights to wireline bandwidth to the Caribbean/Mexico and start to compete with BTL. Any VoIP offering would be physically and contractually independent of BTL and within the PUC’s “scarecrow” guidelines released last June. Why are Mr. Tench and the folks at Clear Contact Ltd. concerned about this?

Original Story:

http://www.7newsbelize.com/archive/10100606.html

And while that’s the politics side of it, how does this affect you? Well, first let’s recall the gist of the PUC ruling on voice over internet: it basically said that vastly cheaper VoIP phone calls and service were legal, but they had to originate in Belize from a Belize-issued phone number – unlike Vonage which assigns a U.S. number. That gave the room for a number of companies to startup on the central understanding that they could use VoIP within these guidelines to offer phone service in Belize. But now, if Boyce is right and those guidelines were just talk, those companies and their cheaper phone calls fantasies just walked out the door.

One of those companies is Clear Contact. The group, a consortium of cable and related interests, including Channel 7’s parent company, Tropical Vision, banded together and paid the PUC $50,000 for what’s called a class license – which authorizes them to move voice transmission – as data throughout Belize – which would mean cheaper calls for you and direct competition for BTL. Today Chairman of Clear Contact Evan Tench commented on the meaning of Boyce’s letter for his company and the telecom landscape in general.

Evan Tench, Chairman – Clear Contact
“Clear Contact’s business was based on the guidelines provided by the PUC issued in June of this year.”

Keith Swift,
What would a ban mean for customers?

Evan Tench,
“Our plan was to get internet bandwidth from ARCOS and distribute it to customers at a higher speed and cheaper rate and the bandwidth would be clear so we could offer more enchanced services including voice over internet.”

Keith Swift,
Based on the letter from Mr. Boyce, that can’t happen. Is that what is saying?

Evan Tench,
“From what I am seeing, it is saying that we won’t be able to offer voice over IP.”

Keith Swift,
You guys set up this company and paid the registration fee based on the PUC’s ruling so you guys used that as a guideline and now it is through the window.

Evan Tench,
“Yeah we paid $50,000 for a license, that is valid for 15 years, and according to the guidelines it should have allowed us to voice, video, and data.”

And while Clear Contact is on the frontline, so is the PUC which invited New World Technology to Belize to explore its options in a liberalized telecom environment. New World is the company that owns the fiber optic loop that runs throughout the region.


Press Release – Smart Launches New and Innovative Mobile Internet Service

October 10, 2006

We all know that Smart/SpeedNet has some of the same backers as BTL… Despite this, they have just released a new mobile internet access technology based on their 3G CDMA cellular network. Can someone please comment and give us a review?

Official Press Release:

Today Smart officially launched an affordable wireless internet solution “SmartNet”. The Company’s goal is to make the internet easy to access for all, by providing the best communication system in Belize.

Smart is making it easier to get in contact with the rest of the world with SmartNet. SmartNet gives you the power to connect to the internet anywhere you are in Belize using your Smart data capable phone, Smart PC card or advanced Smart device. Now Smart Customers can enjoy SmartNet service anytime and anywhere there is Smart Coverage.

This advanced 3 Generation technology offers the convenience of mobile internet access at average speeds of 100Kbps or better with peak connection speed of 153 Kbps. This solution is available only in Belize through Smart. Customers will also be able to use their Smart phone for calls, MMS, SMS, and data, while enjoying Smart’s better coverage, better rates and better service.

The service is available for both, Prepaid and Postpaid customers. Customers also receive SMS notification of emails, calendar & agenda items, address book, POP3 Support, Mail Filter Support, and AntiSpam & AntiVirus as part of your individual account and email address.

For more information on this promotion, please visit Smart Showrooms countrywide, or call 280-1010, or visit www.smart-bz.com