San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Mobile services

ICE denounces telecom regulator for hiring lawyers who worked with private competitors

Leaders from the Internal Workers Front (FIT), a coalition of seven unions from the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), are accusing members of the Telecommunications Superintendency (SUTEL) Council of a conflict of interest and are pushing for their removal from the regulatory agency.

According to FIT coordinator Fabio Chaves, SUTEL granted a contract to two private-practice attorneys who previously testified as experts in a lawsuit against ICE by the private mobile carrier Movistar. That lawsuit resulted in a ₡2.2 billion ($4 million) fine levied by SUTEL against ICE for alleged unfair competition involving discounted offers for ICE phone service.

Chaves reported that SUTEL hired lawyers Pamela Sittenfeld and Diego Petrocolla in a public bid to draft an “anticompetitive behavior guide” and an analysis of “concentrations in the telecommunications sector.”

Those same lawyers were called as experts during the complaint that Movistar raised against ICE that ended in the ruling against the state-owned company for monopolistic practices.

“It is unbelievable that [SUTEL] accepts witnesses paid by an ICE competitor and then hires them and pays them ₡25 million [$46,000]. This is wrongdoing by SUTEL, they are benefitting [private] telecom operators,” Chaves said at a press conference.

SUTEL spokeswoman Ivannia Morales said that Movistar filed the complaint against ICE in 2011, and that ICE “in a public and transparent public bid years later” hired these people to draft guidelines that “have nothing to do with this current situation and that were not used to impose the fine against ICE.”

In addition to calling for the dismissal of SUTEL’s council members, Chaves demanded the Public Services Regulatory Authority open an investigation of all of their actions and reverse the sanction against ICE.

“We will give SUTEL some time to lift the fine or else we will take to the streets and denounce this situation,” Chaves said.

ICE last week appealed the sanction, which also includes orders to refrain from conducting promotions similar to those that caused Movistar’s complaint.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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Gerry Adams

Anyone who has followed the U.S. economy in recent years can tell you while corporate America and their wealthy executives have recovered from the last recession, middle-class families have not. About 95 percent of income gains between 2009 and 2015 went to the top one percent.

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Gerry Adams

To Dan Gibson

I would first like to say wake up and smell the coffee. ICE does a good job providing service to everyone in Costa Rica. If you are poor,rich or Middle class you can get a cell phone at a much lower cost than the US companies. ICE is a great thing for the Country it provides Costa Rican jobs not profits for sharehold in the US. I lived in Canada where getting Cell phone cost an arm and a leg. Canada´s power costs are so high people make a choice keep the power on or skip a meal. ICE has kept power cost lower compared to the US and Canada. I would also like to say that ICE union are in the right to protest i wish HP had a Union maybe they would treat there works with some respect. US companies and US citizen´s like you MR Gibson think your system is great free and open markets to large companies. It´s NOT great to have US companies control power and cell phones in the world.

Wage theft, worker rights and workplace discrimination should not be swept under the rug. The United States cannot have a functional economy where all the gains go to the corporate class while all the pain goes to regular workers.
James P. Hoffa

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Dan Gibson

ICE has had a chokehold on the citizens of Costa Rica for too long — they absolutely do not want any other competitor to ”ruin their scam” !!! The ”third highest per KW hourly rate in the entire world” – rest assured the ”higher ups” with ICE are just fine with their self serving — self appointed wages and benefits — the Costa Rican citizens deserve better — and — it appears they may just get it —!!!

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