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Jan 30, 2004

INTELCO and B.E.L. share fibre optic cable

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It wasn’t the big announcement we were all hoping for: that INTELCO had finally achieved the elusive interconnection it has been battling over with its arch rival. Instead, the group of journalists who travelled to the company’s headquarters at mile thirteen and a half on the Northern Highway today, witnessed the formalization of an agreement between INTELCO and Belize Electricity Limited that will allow the two companies to use each other’s infrastructure to further their individual objectives. Over the last five months INTELCO, under a “gentleman’s agreement”, has been installing overhead fibre optic cables on B.E.L.’s high-tension poles along the Northern and Western Highways. According to Chairman of INTELCO, Glen Godfrey, and B.E.L.’s Chief Executive Officer Lynn Young, it’s a win-win situation for the two companies.

Lynn Young, C.E.O., Belize Electricity Limited

“It’s a big step for us because one of the challenges for us is to control our substations, they are all over the country. And INTELCO’s infrastructure is running along our poles in the same areas. And getting two pairs of fibre from them we connect them to the substations, and then we can connect that to our computer system at our head office, so we can open and close switches remotely and we can read what’s happening in the substations. So if there is a problem in the substation we can pick it up early and respond more quickly. So in terms of operating our system, it’s going to be a big help for us. But as well, we can interconnect our computer systems throughout the country and use that to move information more quickly and provide better service.”

Patrick Jones

“What’s the dollars and cents involved?”

Lynn Young

“We are not paying INTELCO for the use of that. The understanding we have is that in exchange for using our poles we can have that service.”

Patrick Jones

“Free?”

Lynn Young

“If you want to say free, but the cost really is the foregone rental that we would have charged them to rent the poles.”

Glen Godfrey, Chairman, INTELCO

“It means that we can continue to roll out our fibre optics network, including out west and down south at very little cost.”

Patrick Jones

“When you say very little cost, what’s the bottom line, how much money are you paying B.E.L.?”

Glen Godfrey

“We’re not paying B.E.L. any money at all. We are providing two dark fibres to B.E.L. that they can use to monitor their network.”

Patrick Jones

“Mr. Godfrey do you think that the Belizean public is beginning to lose confidence in INTELCO? I mean it’s been so long since we are hearing that INTELCO is coming, competition is coming.”

Glen Godfrey

“INTELCO is here. INTELCO doesn’t have interconnection, not because of anything that INTELCO has done. I think people are getting, they are losing patience, yes, but I don’t think they blame INTELCO for that. They fully realize that INTELCO is trying as hard as it can to provide interconnection.”

Patrick Jones

“How much longer can the Belizean people wait for INTELCO?”

Glen Godfrey

“The question is how much longer will it take to get interconnection. That’s the real question.”

Godfrey says that within the next few months, INTELCO technicians will have installed cables connecting all six districts to its network. With a price tag of sixty-five million U.S. dollars, Godfrey says by June he will have nationwide coverage. He says they are hopeful that the sale of B.T.L. shares will be complete by next week so that they can have an interconnection rate soon. If the deal drops through, however, Godfrey says INTELCO is prepared to sue the owners of B.T.L. He claims INTELCO is presently losing revenue of fifty-five thousand dollars per day and has already lost four point five million U.S. since October due to the absence of interconnectivity with B.T.L. customers.

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