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7655: Teleco's Deregulation a total aberration (fwd)
From: felix Augustin <email@example.com>
During the past 3 months in various provinces, the public booths (cabins
public) pertaining to Telecommunications d'Haiti, commonly known as TELECO,
have been subject to one of the worst aberration the industry has gone
through. One has witnessed the TELECO cabins, domain of the state, becoming
the illegal property of politicians and businessmen who have no
understanding of the telecommunication business. In addition, these new
private operators are neither responsive to the sensitivity nor the needs of
the rural population who relies on the meager telephone service to maintain
contact with the outside world. Thus, one needs to question the issue of
legitimacy and ethics!
To better understand the issue at its roots, one needs first to comprehend a
bit of the Telecommunication industry that for many years have been a state
monopoly, governed by the Central Bank of Haiti, the principal shareholder
of TELECO, the main and only operator. As in any normal democracy and
following the global trend of the industry, many countries have gone from a
state monopoly to a decentralization process. We have then witnessed two
major changes in the industry: One being the deregulation aspect and the
second being the privatization. These two concepts should not be confused
as both can be driven by separate legislation and rules. In the case of
Haiti, neither status have been defined nor approved by the legislature.
This has left Haitians in a limbo where the industry has been floating in a
state of suspension. We have seen the birth and legalization of Haitel and
Comcel cellular networks and the prohibition of the VOip (Voice Over the
In 1997 an international forum was organized by the association of Haitian
Engineers with the objective of assisting the government in the decision
making process of opening up the market. The great talent of many Haitians
and foreign professionals were exhibited in a unified forum. The legal,
administrative and technical aspects where raised by the various experts and
the acts of the forum where summarized in a very important document that was
compiled as a result of these initiatives.
Today, we are looking at a state of pandemonium in the telecommunication
industry in Haiti. We saw the incumbent administration splitting the rural
centers, serving the provinces, from the main administrative infrastructure
of TELECO. We see major financial and administrative changes implemented in
the provinces that are not beneficial for the rural population. We also saw
TELECO personnel that have been working for years in these centers, been
booted out of their jobs without any compensation or any respect of their
human dignities. We saw the TELECO centers that have been serving a
population in dire need of services, dismantled slowly to accommodate these
new "manager" that are driven by greed, profit and incompetence.
In these short periods of time, the chaotic results are quite obvious:
a) Total dissatisfaction of the rural population that has been served by the
TELECO cabins due to additional fees that have been imposed of them when
either making or receiving phone calls.
b) Recipient of phone calls that are refusing to accept calls based on the
fact that they have to pay 1 Gourde for each minutes. Fees are now applied
to "collect calls" as well
c) Customers in rural areas that now have to pay for the messenger service
that for many years was free. In other word, if one calls someone in
Cabaret, the recipient will be imposed a fee for being advised of the call.
d) Total frustration from the population that is already deprived and that
is been charged for receiving international IDDD calls, already paid for by
e) A drop in the number of international calls destined to the various call
centers due to these new charges. Note that TELECO loose the international
settlement rate associated with the termination of each call.
f) The rural exchanges are in a very precarious position where the local
population is tempted to take thing in their own hand and simply erase these
public cabins in their community, as they became symbol of opportunity for
few and total regressions for the majority.
Letís take a quick review of the industry's perspective regarding the
developing countries. Strong communication and information system have
been proven to be vital for any country to survive and prosper. One highly
effective way to achieve that is to promote and nurture the growth of small
and entrepreneurial entities within that sector. This can be achieved
through an increase of teledensity that will augment the number of citizen
that can afford communication's services. Lower price stimulate greater
demand when market participants have the incentive to compete vigorously to
attract greater amount of business. Based on the philosophy that "public
service is a public trust", our government should adopt policies designed to
ensure that every citizen of Haiti can have confidence in the integrity of
government practice and decisions. The executive and legislative branches
should promulgate standard of ethics and conflicting financial interest
should be prohibited. It is clear that in this case, the perception of this
public action is only there to serve the political party in power. CONATEL
the equivalent of the FCC has been silent and totally mute on the matter.
The notion of regulatory independence encompasses 3 major concepts that have
been violated in this case. The separation of regulatory and operational
function, freedom from political pressure and Fair and transparent
Once more, Haitian leaders have proved themselves to be patatist that
strives on GREED and INCOMPETENCE. Taking a business that once was
flourishing and rising, they are still doing their utmost effort to drive it
to the ground while leaving the population in the Dark Age and depriving
them of some basic necessity.
This last initiative is a clear example of the leadership that is running
this country. The lack of vision of Haitian politician drives clear
conflict of interest that is designed to promote bribery and unfair
practice. This new policy is acting as a deterrent for generating telephone
calls and reducing traffic growth while slowing down economic development.
In this era of the Internet, Multimedia and other enhanced services, plain
old telephone (POTS) is still not accessible to 80% of the population.
May be it is time by Haitian leaders to start understanding the fundamental
of telecommunication and to use the talent and competency that is alive in
the Diaspora. Let's suggest that they review to acts of "Haiti TELECOm 97"
that was produced by some of our brilliant professionals. Let consult with
some of our experts that are available to assist the country while
generating constructive dreams for a NEW HAITI where deregulation and
privatization can be achieved properly without involving the political
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