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P.R. Still A Strategic Market For Leading Tech Firms

Local telecom industry contends with new federal regulation; PRT’s Slater exits after five years


December 25, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Puerto Rico’s technology and telecommunications industries began 2003 in a slump but are ending the year in a much better position, with bright prospects for the future.

The success of gadgets and converged devices (personal digital assistants, mobile phones, game consoles) all but guaranteed an upswing for technology companies, including those in Puerto Rico.

Whether for software, storage, or security, Puerto Rico has become a strategic market for technology companies around the world. "We at Oracle have been very impressed with Puerto Rico, and with Latin America in general, for the past year," said Jeff Henley, chief financial officer of Oracle, a leading enterprise software company. "It’s no secret that companies around the world are making business decisions based primarily on what is considered a global economy. Puerto Rico must realize it is competing globally, not just regionally."

The island’s telecommunications industry was relatively quiet until cellular carriers began preparing for wireless local number portability (LNP), a regulation of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that allows customers to keep their cell phone number when switching carriers. "This is about the freedom and flexibility customers have, both on a wireless and a wireline basis, to select a carrier," said former Puerto Rico Telephone (PRT) President Jon Slater.

Slater’s exit from PRT was perhaps the other big news in Puerto Rico’s telecommunications industry. Newly appointed President Cristina Lambert has been given the task of motivating her employees to help PRT make the transition from a government-owned company to a fully functioning private entity, something Slater failed to do in five years as president.

Wireless LNP has given the telecommunications industry and wireless carriers the stimulus they so desperately needed. MoviStar General Manager Claudio Hidalgo, however, believes that while wireless LNP ultimately benefits consumers, the FCC regulation does nothing to stimulate the industry as a whole. "Wireless LNP won’t increase cellular penetration in Puerto Rico; in fact, it will stall it," said Hidalgo. "Do you think that someone who has never used a cell phone will be encouraged to do so now because of wireless LNP? I don’t think so."

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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