Saturday, May 17, 2008

Costa Rica congress approves telecoms opening

Costa Rican congressmen stand up to show up their support to open the country's telecommunications sector to private investment. (Photo: Marvin Caravaca / La Nacion)San Jose, Costa Rica, (Reuters) - Costa Rica's Congress has approved the opening of the Central American country's telecommunications sector to private investment in cellular phones and Internet services.

"The telecommunications bill passed by a vote of 35 to 14" Wednesday, congressional spokeswoman Ana Isabel Duran said on Thursday.

The vote ended a long battle over the measure, which allows private companies to buy concessions from the state-owned telephone company to operate cell phone and Internet lines and was part of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

Fixed telephone lines will remain in the hands of the state-owned Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE).

Costa Ricans approved CAFTA in a referendum last Oct. 7, lagging behind other countries in the region. Implementation of terms of the deal was left to the Congress.

Mexico's America Movil owned by billionaire Carlos Slim, and Spain's Telefonica are the major players in the Latin American cellular phone market.

Slim, one of the world's richest men, said he was interested in looking at the newly opened market.

"We'll have to see what the auction conditions are like," Slim told Reuters.

"I imagine they are going to be open to all ... and we don't know how many licenses they are going to give. But in general we are interested in all Latin America."

Under the law, which will take effect once it is signed by Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias and published in the official gazette, concessions will be issued by a national telecommunications regulator created by the legislation.

(Reporting by John McPhaul; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

1 comment:

Doug said...

Excellent !
Now the losers at ICE and RACSA can go back to what they are best at !
Cutting grass.

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