The government controlled Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) and Speednet Communications Limited, (Smart) have been at odds and deadlocked over a new interconnection agreement for more than a year now.
This week the deadlock became public knowledge, when Smart CEO Ernesto Torres and Marketing Manager Anthony Mahler made their rounds to the local television morning shows to promote their new 3G network and to explain to their thousands of customers the delay in bringing the promised new services on-line.
Smart will begin testing its new 3G mobile network on August 15th.
BTL was quick to issue a press release saying that Telemedia has never delayed or denied interconnection to Speednet (Smart).
The BTL release goes on to say that, “in fact the company willingly entered into negotiations with Speednet which has now arrived at a stalemate.”
But that statement from BTL might be self-serving.
Based upon a Supreme Court decision on March 31, both BTL and Smart were ordered by the Court to enter into negotiations for the interconnection.
If the two companies are unable to arrive at a negotiated agreement; however, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) would be then tasked by the Court to work out an interconnection formula on behalf of both companies.
The Court also stipulated that the P.U.C. was required to have do so by Wednesday, July 27th.
But up to Thursday, July 28, both companies confirmed that they had not been contacted with the P.U.C. agreement.
Anthony Mahler told The Reporter that after months of negotiation with BTL, everything is now at a standstill.
Mahler said that Smart has invested around $25 million in its new network and that investment is just sitting there, because of the interconnection deadlock with BTL.
“Under the auspices of the PUC, we had a mediator who used to work as a regulator in Jamaica. He was here for about four weeks, and there was still no agreement,” Mahler said.
“We have been trying to seek interconnection from May of last year,” Mahler noted.
Mahler said that since there is no interconnection yet, all they want to do now is to take their old equipment and connect it to their new equipment, but BTL is preventing Speednet from doing even that.
According to Roberto Young, a consultant at BTL, the court had found that the agreement between the two companies was unenforceable, and they were told to go and renegotiate a new agreement.
Young said that there is interconnection between Smart and BTL. But the problem now is that Smart has a new switch that they want to connect.
Young maintains that both companies are now awaiting the compromise that the P.U.C. has to give them.
The Reporter was unable to get a comment on this matter from the P.U.C. up to news time.