San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

ICE Announces New Cell Phone Network

Costa Rica will soon step into the next generation of cellular phone technology, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), the country’s state-run telecommunications monopoly, recently announced.

The institute plans to acquire 1.3 million 3G cellular lines to be installed by April 2008.

3G networks are long-range networks designed to facilitate high-speed wireless Internet access, massive e-mail use, video telephony and other services cell phone users can obtain access to in places with wireless connections. 3G networks can support more voice and data users than the existing technologies, especially in urban areas.

GSM and TDMA are the cell phone technologies now offered in Costa Rica. The new 3G lines would nearly double the amount of cellular lines nationwide, according to ICE.

The announcement comes after ICE decided last month to cut short its $149 million contract with the multinational telecommunications firm Alcatel, which was operating 400,000 GSM lines for the institute. The announcement came amid allegations that Alcatel officals had dished out $9.6 million in bribes for the contract (TT, Feb. 9). ICE officials had been considering buying another 200,000 GSM lines from the company after Costa Rica ran out of these lines in October of last year.

No company has been contracted as the provider of the 3G network. The institute plans to begin the public bidding process this month, the statement said.


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