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Aug 31, 2004

Speednet is latest player in Telecom game

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It’s the new telecommunications company, with competitive rates and cutting edge technology, offering exciting services to thousands of new customers. No, we’re not talking about INTELCO, although the business plan pitched to the press this morning sounds eerily close to the rhetoric uttered barely two years ago by the now defunct company. It’s the latest to come out of Speednet. Today, the Orange Walk based company launched “Smart”, which is scheduled to provide a wide range of telecommunications services to Belizean consumers nationwide as early as December 2004. Founded by the Briceno brothers: Jorge, Renan and Jaime, Speednet is already sensitive to the sentiments of the Belizean consumer, who is still feeling a little jilted after the INTELCO break-up. Chairman of the board of directors, Jamie Briceno, told News 5 that it will not make the same mistakes of its predecessor.

Jaime Briceno, Chairman, Speednet

“I know there is a lot of scepticism, and as mentioned earlier even synism, about this whole venture. To be honest with we were a bit concerned about the timing–with all these events that are coming on. But I think it’s about time that Speednet started talking to the Belizean public. We are at a point now where we have specific concrete things that are coming a stream and I think people need to start thinking that Speednet is out there and we would like to give them a bit of hope about telecommunications industry. I know it has been taking a lot of knocks lately. But we believe that we have a good business model that can work.”

“We are actually implementing that business plan. Perhaps, INTELCO started that route, but somehow along the way they got diverted inter-route and I think their big mistake was that they tried to duplicate BTL. They were trying to basically do another BTL with everything that BTL had; a huge operation. We think it was a waste of the country’s resources in terms of duplicating these resources; in terms of providing everything that BTL is. Instead, we focus from day one in getting our agreements–our things in place before we started actually moving. So we focussed–on signing facility as lease agreements–on a number of issues so that we would be able to be a truly low cost operator. I need to point out that we are not just renting from BTL, but we are renting from a number of operators throughout the country so that we can have the best coverage possible in Belize at this point.”

“The license that we have places an obligation on us to provide full telecommunication services. So we have an obligation to provide all of these services. But our focus will certainly be on the prepaid mobile market. That does not mean that we cannot and will not offer other services as well to the business community; to individual users and so on. Our focus will be that, but our capability really is pretty much to offer more services than a telecom offers.”

Eduardo Santiago, Chief Executive Officer, Smart

“We have studied a Belizean market and we feel that the Belizean market is underserved and under penetrated. We believe that based on metrics around the area or in the region, the Belize market place can expand up to at least sixty thousand more customers. We feel that a lot of the current customers cannot have access to the services because the price is outside of their range. We are going to make the service so accessible so that we can penetrate the market, go to under underserved areas like Satellite City, around Belize and other different areas in which we have a lack of services and we will go there. In addition, also since we have enhanced a good value proposition, we believe that a lot of the people that live in the metropolitan areas would choose our service when they have an alternative for choice.”

“We have rationalized our expenses by not building where there are already facilities. For example we call ok with Channel 5 in some locations and they have some really tall towers. They cover a large area. So we cover the same large area as Channel 5 using the same infrastructure. We don’t have to duplicate infrastructure–the same thing we do with all our radio stations and TV stations and also we have this BTL tower lease facility agreement.”

According to Smart’s chief executive officer, Eduardo Santiago, the company’s rates and the interconnection tariffs already agreed to with Belize Telecommunications Limited will be released to the public in early November of this year, approximately three weeks before its official December start.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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