No Phone Books Next Year

September 30, 2005

INSTEAD of publishing phone books next year, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) will offer free calls throughout 2006 to the telephone directory service accessed by dialing 113, the daily Al Día reported.In a recent meeting, the board of directors of ICE – the state company with a monopoly on telecommunications in Costa Rica – agreed to ask the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP), which regulates basic telephone services in the country, to prolong the free calls to 113.Calls to 113 have been free since early August as the result of a disagreement over the publication of the 2005 phone books (TT, Aug. 5). The multinational firm Verizon published the books regionally, rather than nationwide as in the past – a change that resulted in a contract dispute between Verizon and ICE, leading to Verizon’s withdrawal from Costa Rica (TT, July 8).ICE requested that the state-owned Internet provider Radiográfica Costarricense S.A. (RACSA) take over producing and distributing the phone books, but ARESEP rejected the contract, Al Día reported.ICE distributes both residential and white-page directories and commercial, yellow-page directories each year. Calls to 113 previously cost ¢28.80 ($0.06). ICE estimates that by not printing the directories and offering the 113 service for free, it will save $1.3 million, the daily reported.According to Al Día, the ICE Board on Directors agreed to continue its negotiations for RACSA to print the guides in 2007, or to put the project up for bid.

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