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May 11, 2004

INTELCO unhappy with interconnection

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The Public Utilities Commission’s announcement of interconnection rates last Friday should have ended the ongoing dispute between B.T.L. and INTELCO. But the microphones were barely turned off when the fax machines in media houses across the country began ringing with news that INTELCO is crying foul. This morning News 5′s Patrick Jones sat down with INTELCO C.E.O. Juan McKenzie to see just where the problem lies.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

According to McKenzie, lost among the hype of the interconnection breakthrough was the fine print that puts his company at a clear disadvantage, first in that the rates are too high, and perhaps more crucially, there is no provision for connection to INTELCO?s fixed government and business installations.

Juan Mackenzie, C.E.O., INTELCO

“My major issue is that number one, it?s not reciprocal. What that mean. That mean that in one direction you have reciprocal with the cellular, but on the fixed side you don’t have a reciprocal rate. So at the same time you are saying in the cellular systems it?s reciprocal but at the other side on the fixed side it?s not reciprocal. And we cannot accept that. Even though the interconnection rates are high, we will work with it in the meantime, understanding that this is an interim solution that eventually when the P.U.C. see how it affects the clients they will arrange something to carry it down.”

McKenzie says claims that INTELCO does not have an operational fixed phone network are just not true. According to INTELCO, there may not be any physical lines connecting its corporate customers, but the technology being introduced to the market requires different protocols.

Juan Mackenzie

“And I think they have to understand that it?s just a different technology. It’s a better way of doing things than landing a lot of lines about the place. So we say we are a wireless company, but wireless is not only cellular; wireless can be internet wireless; wireless can be residential wireless; wireless can be even a corporate service.”

“We tell the P.U.C. that we agree under the condition that it will be reciprocal, and in both conditions, and that it will be more or less three months to six months to give time to overview the results of the impact of this. And that is what is our position is today. We know the people need interconnection. We don?t want to run away from interconnection, because carry the price up is a trick. But we are accustomed to fight against those kinds of things and the monopoly, but it has to be under certain conditions, it has to be alright. We want to put in that part, but it has to be reciprocal.”

As to the rates announced by the P.U.C., McKenzie says the numbers just don’t make sense.

Juan McKenzie

“How can the interconnection fee higher than a local call. That doesn’t make sense; that is fishy. Anybody that use a little bit of logic behind the numbers will say hey it don’t make sense that the interconnection fee to make a local call is higher than the cost of a local call, it’s not natural. If you do numbers you will say something wrong. I think somebody just run and do this thing very fast and they did not take notice of that number and we are writing back to the P.U.C. to ask them how they can explain a situation like that because it?s weird.”

But despite the disagreement over the rates, McKenzie says INTELCO is prepared to continue the fight.

Juan Mackenzie

“We are ready. And we are so ready my friend that we carry fibre and we have it outside of B.T.L. Our own fibre we put outside of B.T.L., two rings outside there. We bought two equipments for interconnection and we have it waiting, now we have to sit down and say when we will physically do the interconnection. But we are ready.”

Patrick Jones for News 5.

Interconnection between B.T.L. and INTELCO is slated to become a reality on the first of June.

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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