Friday, February 15, 2008

State Owned Telecoms and ISPs - Not So Good Idea

The state owned telecom here in Costa Rica is ICE (pernounced /ee-say/). ICE also oversees RACSA, the state owned ISP. ICE is the only phone company in Costa Rica. RACSA is virtually the only ISP (they have given a concession to at least one cable ISP that I know of.) This cable ISP has the right to provide internet to about 10 or 20 city blocks in downtown Cartago.

Late December, a friend of ours agreed to lease me some space for an office. Immediately, we went to ICE to apply for a telephone line. Finally, during the first week of February the line was installed. It took them about 6 weeks! We got it this quick because we know someone in ICE and we kept hounding him. I still cannot use the office though because now, I'm waiting on ICE/RACSA to get the internet connection going for me!

We've been told that RACSA is out of internet ports. They're waiting on users to cancel their internet service, from there the port will be returned to a pool. There is a waiting list of at least a 1000 people in front of me. This is their story. We do have the option of transferring our existing port (that I'm using right now) from our home to the office. No word right now on when that can be done. 6 weeks ago, they gave me the impression that it would be something that could be done almost immediately. I'm still waiting........

This is just my case. How many other business people are suffering in Costa Rica because of this slow state-owned monopoly? Fortunately, there is an answer that will be coming in the future. That answer is competition via CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement.) I'm not really a proponent of this agreement because of concerns about eroding national sovereignties; however, this agreement is going to allow for competition to exist in the telecom industry here in Costa Rica. These companies are going to come in here and eat ICE's lunch. It will be a much welcomed change on my part.

1 comment:

Joel Odom said...

So Carlos Slim will come eat your lunch. :-)