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November 27th, 2009
As many of my readers know, there are two cell phone systems here. One is called TDMA, also known ss “the old system” and equally accurate, “The system that actually works!”.
The second is GSM and truly is lousy, but requires a more expensive phone that is more sexy, and everyone knows, women go for a guy with a sexy phone even if it does not work. The GSM system was installed by Alcatel a French company, apparently after they paid a few bribes to various government and ICE officials. As a matter of fact, January marks the month for the trial of still another ex-president of Costa Rica who alledgedly accepted the chorizo (bribe). Costa Rica seems to routinely send ex-presidents to jail, the last one just a few weeks ago!
So what is happening? If this topic interests you, read on!
ICE has been threatening to discontinue the TDMA system for a long time but has now backtracked. This is because, as a result of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), they have lost their monopoly and now face the possibility of having competition, a dirty word for sure.
ICE’s president, Pedro Pablo Quirós stated that cancelling the TDMA service might give people the option to move to a competing network. WOW! Nothing gets by THAT guy! Imagine anyone considering switching from ICE after so many years of superb customer service! Why… the mind fairly boggles… but this is true.
He also states that customers currently using TDMA will be able to choose to stick with the service or move to the 3G when it is available in December and they will be able to keep their numbers.
That brings up the new Third Generation (3G) system rolling out next month with 950,000 lines. Well, it seems there are a few problems!
1. ICE is already hedging by complaining that “someone” is buying up all the good tower sites. Imagine! Someone apparently got their hands on the list locations ICE needed and made deals with the owners of the land making ICE search for alternate spots and negotiate a purchase. Oh the PAIN. It seems clear ICE has not yet gotten clear on what it means to be in a free market!
2. When the 3G system does roll out, it will only have calling, text messaging, Internet (sort of) and voicemail. All the cool goodies will be rolled out “at a later date”. Hmmmm!
So to all the many folks who have asked my advice on this topic, I would suggest you wait.
Wait to buy those new and much more expensive 3G phones.
Wait to see who else enters the market for cell service.
Wait to see if THIS system works better than the old 2G GSM system. If ICE has not solved the tower issue, you might be a very unhappy camper.
Wait to see who DID buy up all those “good” tower locations and see what they will offer.
Wait for some sucker (maybe me) to buy a 3G and thoroughly and honestly review it… probably in six months IF the new goodies become available.Filed under CAFTA, Cell Phones, Costa Rica, Free Trade Agreement, ICE | Comments (10)