Three telecommunications companies have solicited authorization from the Superintendent of Telecommunications (Sutel) to offer phone and internet services to the Costa Rican public. If approved, this will be the first time that the ex-monopoly Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE) will face competition in the telecom market now that the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has officially passed.
Amnet, Ticom and WorldCom must wait for official approval from Sutel, which was just formed Jan. 27, before entering into the market to compete with ICE and their subsidiary, Racsa. Sutel did not expect to begin reviewing applications until February 13, but their speedy formation will allow them to begin with the review process.
The company Ticom, which plans to operate phone lines in the country, with a focus on voice over IP, already submitted their request to operate in the country on Jan. 21. Amnet, which already offers cable television in the country, also requested the right to offer telephone services on Jan. 28. Finally, WorldCom, which offers high speed wireless internet access in the country, hopes to increase their services to more diverse regions of Costa Rica to both homes and large corporations. The company already invested some $5 million to enlarge their network throughout the country.
The approval of these contracts s of interest to all involved, as Sutel recently rejected ICE’s plan to raise phone prices until competition exists in the market. Until it does, ICE is not allowed to raise prices over the amount set by the state regulating authority Aresep. Once these requests are approved only time will tell how prices and quality of service will be affected. Many CAFTA opponents made claims that the open market will cause phone prices to skyrocket, whereas proponents are mostly tired of ICE’s mediocre quality service. Hopefully change proves to be for the best in this case!
Written by Claire Saylor, Costa Rica Pages, (Original Here)