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Oct 31, 2003

INTELCO launches cell service

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Well, they probably hold the record for the most eagerly anticipated opening, but finally after months of speculation, controversy, and attempts to have their opening stalled, delayed, and derailed, INTELCO officially began offering phone service today. They opened undeterred by the fact that the Public Utilities Commission has yet to indicate just how much INTELCO customers will have to pay to talk to B.T.L. clients. You would think that was a critical piece of information that any potential new customers would want, but the hundreds swarming their New Road office today didn’t seem too concerned. News 5 was there.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

It was sheer pandemonium outside the offices of the country’s newest telecommunications company, INTELCO. The telephone company, which is located on New Road in Belize City, officially opened its doors to the public this afternoon. As expected, the occasion was marked with much fanfare.

The company expects to sign up five thousand customers over the next two days. It is not certain just how many people will actually make the switch, but the large number of Belizeans that turned out on the first day, indicates that hundreds are ready to try something new.

Juan McKenzie, Chief Executive Officer

“I think the turnout is very good. When I came to the country, we promised the Belizeans a nice price and a nice rate and that it will be cheaper. People can see today that it is happening in reality. The phones that we are selling are almost the same value like what you get in the United States, and our competitor could never do something like that. We have it here, we are showing, we are selling it. And we are like almost sixty, seventy percent lower than what they are giving today, what they were giving yesterday, and what they will give tomorrow.”

The savings are on INTELCO’s range of cellular phones that are being sold along with the company’s fifty-dollar SIM card.

Jacqueline Woods

Those people who are purchasing phones and getting the phones activated Will only be able to reach an INTELCO user.”

Juan McKenzie

“There are two things there. One is the interconnection; eventually it will have to happen soon. That is the responsibility of the P.U.C., and they will have to look out for the people. Their responsibility is to look out for the people that are outside there. So I don’t think we will last too long before we have interconnection between the two system so that B.T.L. clients can call our clients and our clients can call B.T.L. clients. Look, in any home we are creating a programme called “Friends and Family” to make sure that people don’t get trapped in this B.T.L. resistance to competition in the market. “Friends and Family” work like this, usually all of us have ten, twenty, persons that we do business with, or have family or friends and people who work with us, so we will do, apart from the rate in the market, we will do a special rate for groups of people that have phones. So meanwhile in the next ten or five days that the interconnection don’t happen, these people can not only have the benefit of a low rate, but they will have the benefit of a special rate between themselves. And I will do this for nationwide and I am sure that when people look at the rates we are having with interconnection and without interconnection, it will be better to have an INTELCO phone and use it with the INTELCO service.”

One bit of information INTELCO’s Chief Executive Officer, Juan McKenzie, was not ready to disclose is just how much it will cost consumers to use the telephone service after the first month.

Juan McKenzie

“I don’t put the telephone rates because I am waiting precisely on interconnection. We have a concept of what is long distance and I don’t want to talk about it yet, but when the P.U.C. establishes interconnection you will see that we changed the concept of long distance. We don’t want to put the rate yet because we don’t know exactly what is the interconnection, but we have a rate for INTELCO to INTELCO phones and we will be announcing it eventually. The Board of Directors gave us three more days. We will submit our rates to the P.U.C. because we have to submit it to them for twenty-one days. After we submit it, we wait twenty-one days and we will submit it to the public.”

If you are interested in what kind of residential and internet services will be offered, McKenzie says Belizeans will have to wait a little bit longer to find out what packages will be given, but he promises as good as the mobile phone deals.

Juan McKenzie

“Residential service will be introduced exactly after the fifteenth of November. We want to do a special thing for the Belizean people after that day. Just like how you see these rates are low, people will have the nice rates and the nice phones.”

“Our concept of business is that everybody in this age should have internet at home. But the great problem is not the service we we’ll bring, because it will be low. The problem is the computers that the people have. So we are working out with computer providers so we can package it so poor people don’t feel and hit and we finance it in the long terms, but they have the service. That is part of our philosophy of doing business. We not going for part of the market, we want to go for everything.”

The offer on the phones will last until November thirtieth–or while supplies last.

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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