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#1620: Thousands of Haitians back online after dispute (fwd)
Thousands of Haitians back online after dispute
December 27, 1999
Web posted at: 8:08 PM EST (0108 GMT)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) -- Thousands of Haitians were back online on Monday after a three-month dispute between the Haitian government and the impoverished Caribbean country's largest Internet service provider.
"Everything is up and going. We are still running some checks on the equipment," an official with Alpha Communications Network (ACN) told Reuters.
In late September, Haiti's telecommunications regulator, the National Telecommunications Council (Conatel), shut down ACN, which controlled 90 percent of the Internet market in Haiti.
Conatel accused ACN of violating the state-run monopoly of Telecommunications d'Haiti (Teleco) by selling international phone lines and international telephone cards. ACN denied the allegations.
The shutdown cut Internet communication for thousands of Haitians, including the state university, government offices, businesses and many foreign embassies.
An accord, mediated by the Justice Minister Camille Leblanc, was reached late last week. "The accusations of fraud weighed very heavily on us, and we were determined that this be brought to light. The main charge against us of international traffic has been dropped," Francois Benoit, director general of ACN, said after the agreement was reached.
ACN has been clashing with Conatel ever since it pioneered Internet access in Haiti three years ago. Teleco cut off ACN's phone lines two years ago, prompting the company to transfer to a wireless network, sidestepping the telephone monopoly's expensive, outmoded communications grid.
The Internet has become a critical tool for many in Haiti, a country where there are only 65,000 telephone lines for a population of 7.5 million people, and 17,000 of the lines are out-of-order at any one time.
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