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Nov 13, 2014

Smart and BTL Head to Court

Attorneys for telecom providers Speednet and B.T.L. were in court this morning. Speednet Communications Limited filed an application for an injunction against Belize Telemedia Limited on Wednesday to prevent the termination of services by B.T.L. which would affect almost seven thousand Smart users in Toledo District. On July twenty-seventh an agreement was signed between the two companies and resulted in Smart switching its communications link in the south to B.T.L.  In court this morning, however, B.T.L. undertook not to disrupt services until December eighth when the two go back to court. Speednet maintains that B.T.L. is abusing its stronghold over the telecommunications sector, but the attorney for the government-owned B.T.L., Rodwell Williams, says that the service was being provided to Speednet for private use and not for resale to its subscribers.  This morning, Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay told News Five that while the matter has been adjourned the quality of service presently being provided by B.T.L. to Speednet remains an issue because Smart had contracted from B.T.L. sixteen megabits, but is only receiving four megabits.

 

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Speednet

Eamon Courtenay

“Essentially what happened is the method by which Smart delivers its services to its customers in the Toledo District is through an agreement with Belize Telemedia.  This had been put in place in July, I believe around July of this year, and about six weeks after they put that agreement in place Belize Telemedia served notice that they were terminating this service.  The effect of that would mean that over seven thousand customers of Smart in the Toledo District would have absolutely no telephone, cellular service and therefore we have been back and forth with Belize Telemedia pointing out to them that that is unreasonable and that it amounts to an abuse of their dominant position in the market.  They have extended their deadlines up until tomorrow and we suggested to them that Smart is itself doing investments to be independent of Belize Telemedia and that it expects to be finished with that investment fairly early in the new year.  Notwithstanding that, they insisted that they were going to terminate the services tomorrow and therefore we had to file an emergency injunction before the court seeking to restrain them.  Happily, the counsel for Telemedia contacted us and told us that they were prepared to give an undertaking that they would not terminate the service until the injunction is heard which is now set for December eight.  The additional issue of course, is the quality of service.  The quality of service and the capacity that was contracted from Belize Telemedia is not being delivered and therefore we are going to be working with Telemedia to tell them that they have to deliver the service that was contracted.  The judge gave us permission to come back before the eight if that continues to be a serious problem.”

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