Musa’s Hypocritical Script

November 24, 2006

Technology – good, corruption – bad, being Ralph’s puppet boy and letting him run Belize’s telecommuncations policy into the ground – priceless.

Said & Ralph

From the LoveFM story today covering the launch of the government’s new web site:

Hon. Said Musa, Prime Minister of Belize

“The cost cutting nature of technology today provides opportunity and enables delivery of the much needed economic and social information more efficient while transcending distances to provide wider and broader access.”

Um, isn’t this what VoIP does?

And from the LoveFM story covering Belize’s rank of 66 of the world’s most corrupt countries:

Hon. Said Musa, Prime Minister of Belize

“You will find that there is corruption in every part of the world today. What we are doing is that we are making this more transparent so whether it is an officer taking a bribe to do a job or to do it quickly, we need to expose and adjust these things. You cannot have corruption in the public sector unless it is taking place in the private sector. So there is need for us to look at this thing a societal problem and recognize it and address it in that way.”

Then why have you not yet responded to the publicly exposed collusion between your utilities minister, the PUC and BTL? Isn’t it now time to “adjust”?

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Channel 7 – Ralph Fonseca: PUC Guidelines Were ‘Administrative Step’

November 20, 2006

Original Story:

http://www.7newsbelize.com/archive/11170606.html

What is the government’s position on voice over internet? We’ve heard what the Prime Minister had to say, but all he really told us is what his position is. The only man who it seems can speak authoritatively about government’s position is Minister of Public Utilities Ralph Fonseca. He’s the man who gave BTL assurances and undertakings that the Public Utility Commission’s VoIP guidelines were really just great sound and fury signifying nothing much. Today in the House he amplified his position. Responding to a question from the Leader of the Opposition, he said that all those VoIP consultations, deliberations and the policy were just an administrative step, and not a policy decision.

Hon. Ralph Fonseca, Minister of Public Utilities
“The guidelines released by the PUC in June were solely done in effort to start coming to grips with an extremely complex issue in order provide a framework for classifying, monitoring, analyzing, and discussing the way forward. The guidelines formed an administrative step after consultations with the industry and the public. Existing legislation never contemplated VoIP and amending them without this first step would have been irresponsible.

We also know that the individual class license holders, BTL and Speednet, have invested millions across the country for a much higher level of security through training, back up systems, hard wires, fibre optic cables, and multiple towers. These investments cannot be endangered recklessly by permitting foreign or local entities to compete unfairly. Most countries in the world today are trying to find the solution to the reality of VoIP and the imperative for a level playing field. The very technology VoIP is commonly referred to by those in the industry as a disruptive technology.

Since 1998 we have come too far with telecommunications to now throw everything into chaos for a short term gain or the premature excitement created by new technology.”

Speaker Elizabeth Zabenah,
“Honorable Member for Queen’s Square I hope you heard the answer because you weren’t paying much attention.”

Hon. Dean Barrow,
“It wasn’t an answer, it was a statement by the Minister. But since the Speaker would not stop the Member, I turned off.”

Speaker Elizabeth Zabenah,
“In opinion it wasn’t an answer but it sounded like an answer to me. The least you could have done was listen.”

Hon. Dean Barrow,
“It was s short question, I did not invite the Minister to make a statement. There is an agenda item for that.”

The PUC issued a $50,000 class license to at least two companies based on the apparently now irrelevant VoIP guidelines.


Channel 5 – …but (BTL) keeps up pressure against VOIP

November 9, 2006

Original Story:

http://www.channel5belize.com/archive_detail_story.php?story_id=17376 

But while B.T.L. was scoring a few points with students, the rest of Belize was expressing serious concerns about the company’s attempts to limit competition, particularly in the area of VOIP, those voice over internet protocols that allow consumers to access cheap phone service over the internet. To B.T.L. boss, Dean Boyce, the controversy is all about fairness.

Dean Boyce
“The problem we have is with the issue of licenses to companies that will target the most profitable locations, the most profitable customers and those services without adding any value to the industry or to the country. So we’ve made our position known over a period of time and we would be expecting that the industry would be developed, and the policies would be developed in a way that properly supports the country’s telecom’s industry. Everybody recognizes that the telecoms industry is absolutely vital for the economy and if it’s not properly and fairly developed then there are going to be imbalances within the country and certain populations are going to end up suffering as a result.”

Janelle Chanona
“But is that letter fair then that would give specifically just B.T.L. a get out of jail free card while the other license holders would be bounded to the P.U.C. regulations?”

Dean Boyce
“We have a license that’s an inch thick. These other new class licenses have one page without any obligations, so you tell me what’s fair.”

While on the subject of fairness, it might logically be asked what was fair about all those years of B.T.L.’s absolute monopoly, when the company racked up unconscionable profits from exorbitant rates on overseas phone calls.


Channel 7 – What Ralph Fonseca Told Dean Boyce About VoIP

November 9, 2006

 Original Story:

http://www.7newsbelize.com/archive/11080602.html 

In June the Public Utilities Commission green-lighted Voice over Internet Protocol, VoIP, and began granting licenses. But last month the Opposition UDP exposed a letter dated September 18th from BTL’s Chairman Dean Boyce to Public Utilities Minister Ralph Fonseca in which Boyce stated, despite what the PUC said, he had been given certain assurances that there will be no licenses granted for other carriers to offer phone services using VoIP. The Prime Minister later told us he knows of no such assurance, but today Boyce today confirmed it to 7NEWS. He didn’t tell us what Minister Fonseca told him but Boyce told Keith Swift he made his concerns about VoIP known to Minister Fonseca and he believes that they will be accommodated.

Keith Swift,
What came out of your conversation with the Minister of Public Utilities?

Dean Boyce, BTL
“Well that is a subject of a separate discussion at some point but certainly we’ve expressed our points of view to a number of persons within the regulatory body and within the government and we would expect those points to be accommodated within any policy.”

Keith Swift,
From your conversation with the Minister, will these companies be allowed to operate?

Dean Boyce,
“We come back to the same point again, I think you should talk to the Minister about what his statement is.”

Keith Swift,
We’ve seen your letter to the Minister saying that he gave you an assurance so we just want to know where do we stand with VoIP.

Dean Boyce,
“I think it is reasonable for…the Ministry is supposed to set policy and does set policy and that will evolve over time. So I think you need to talk to the Minister concerned to determine their policy on the industry on a whole and all its various components and parts.”

Keith Swift,
Does that Ministry policy override PUC regulations, in your view?

Dean Boyce,
“The regulator needs to follow the law and the government’s policy on any particular subject so the regulator would work within the boundaries that have been set.”

Keith Swift,
So no straight answer on whether or not you got an assurance from the Minister about VoIP?

Dean Boyce,
“I think you need to talk to him about his official policy on the industry on a whole.”

Keith Swift,
Did you leave the conversation with the Minister content that BTL’s concerns will be addressed?

Dean Boyce,
“I was comfortable with the assurances that I have been given.”

Clear Contact, 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 authorized the company to move voice as data throughout Belize, which would mean.