Columbus secures license

Columbus Networks Curaçao secured its licence for international telephony and internet. On June 1st, the Council of Ministers agreed with the issuance of the licence. Telecom-minister Maurice Adriaens (FOL) expects that due to Columbus joining the Curaçao market, the internet rates will, in time, drastically decrease on Curaçao.

Columbus Networks Curaçao is a subsidiary of Columbus Networks, which is 94 percent owner and manager of the Americas Region Optical Ring System (Arcos), the optic fiber cable network connecting the Caribbean region and the Central America.

Since 2007, the company has been trying to gain ground on Curaçao with its request for a licence on Curaçao. In February, Columbus went to Court to enforce the issuance of his licence. The Land received two months from the judge to come up with a response to Columbus’ request. Just before this ultimatum expired, the decision was taken to issue the licence, as a result of which a verdict was no longer necessary.

Lower tariffs
Adriaens is enthusiastic about the arrival of Columbus, and expects this will involve lower internet tariffs. “They are active on various islands in the region. If you look at their tariffs on amongst others Jamaica and the Bahamas, then this amounts to approx. 25 to 30 dollars for a speed of 2 megabit. For the same speed, the consumer on Curaçao pays 149 guilders as part of a two-year subscription. That is quite a difference”, the minister admits.
In order to join the Curaçao market, Columbus must construct its own network, but according to Adriaens, there is also the possibility that Columbus will cooperate with a local provider. The minister assumes that the latter option is feasible in view of the fact that Columbus indicated it wanted to become active on Curaçao as soon as possible.
Especially with the national telecom company UTS there is resistance against the arrival of Columbus and thus contending fierce competition. The company fears unfair competition as
Columbus Networks Curaçao will offer internet on the island against a much lower tariff. However, the minister is not worried about this. He indicates that with the introduction of Columbus on the local market, it was agreed that there would be a minimum tariff for the wholesale activities in the telecom area. “We will sit around the table with the parties and discuss the minimum tariffs. Columbus Networks Curaçao must employ the same tariffs that other local providers pay to parent company Columbus Networks. Adriaens emphasized this morning, that there will be no question of treating this matter lightly”.

Consequences for UTS
Nevertheless, UTS-director De Geus comments on the arrival of Columbus. “This is a new competitor, and we do have experience. UTS does not determine the policy of the minister, but if this is the policy to open up the market and admitting more companies, then we wonder what the consequences will be for our company. During the past year, we deposited an amount of approx. 80 million guilders in the public treasury. If this policy continues, we will not be able to transfer this amount to the government.”

(Source: National newspaper Antilliaans Dagblad / Amigoe)

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