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Sprint Reacts To The PRT’s Consolidation Of Calling Zones

Claims Change Could Affect More Than Just Long-Distance Carriers


March 11, 2004
Copyright © 2004 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The news of Puerto Rico Telephone (PRT) reducing the number of calling zones (CB Jan. 29) has caused some long-distance carriers to question PRT’s motives for the move.

PRT intends to consolidate the 68 local calling zones into 10 regional zones by year’s end. This involves imposing on each client (whether an individual or a business) a monthly charge of $2.25 per phone line.

This fee is to be implemented gradually, starting with no charge for the first three months after consolidation, followed by a 25-cent monthly charge, and then by an additional 50-cent monthly charge every quarter. The consolidation process kicked off Feb. 2 with the zones of Aguadilla and Mayaguez, which are now in the 90-day grace period.

"The change was made without sharing information with other carriers, and it was done through a unilateral negotiation between the Telecommunications Regulatory Board [TRB] and the PRT, which has the habit of regulating itself, which is totally incorrect," said Patricia Eaves, Sprint’s vice president & general manager.

She also said the PRT touts savings and productivity from reducing the number of calling zones, which only it understands, since no research or studies have been shared with other companies and there were no public hearings to evaluate the effects of the move. Eaves added that consumers will be negatively affected because many prefer to use cell phones for long-distance calls. Those who have a landline phone at home will be charged for the reduction in calling zones even if they don’t use that phone to call outside their town.

"My main concern isn’t the negative impact it may have on long-distance carriers; it is the impact on the general industry, since this affects not only the carriers but also consumers and businesses in Puerto Rico," said Eaves. "We have no way of evaluating if this was the most efficient way to reduce their calling costs."

She is also concerned about unforeseen costs to consumers, such as additional charges for exceeding the minutes allotted for local calls. The reduction in the number of calling zones might also hurt businesses because the $2.25 monthly charge is per phone line, of which there could be dozens at a business.

"Although this is apparently a done deal between the PRT and the TRB, we will go through the necessary steps or forums to neutralize the negative effects on consumers," said Eaves. "The PRT is moving the calling traffic from long-distance, where they have competition, to local calling traffic, where the competition is almost nonexistent."

Eaves said it seems the local telecommunications industry has reverted to a monopoly, which the law is supposed to prevent.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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