Saturday 15 May 2021

ICE Couldn’t Keep The Lid On Its Can of Beans

TICO BULL by Rico – I can remember, as little as a few years ago during Costa Rica’s opening of the telecommunications sector, the state telecom, ICE, doing all its ‘legal’ might to block it.

extranjeras-telefonia-introduccion-portabilidadAfter that loss, it concentrated on blocking, albeit temporarily, new services. One of them number portability, the ability of the consumer to choose their mobile service provider without changing their number.

For many new to Costa Rica that seems like, so what? But consider that many in Costa Rica have had the same cellular phone number for a long time. In my case more almost two decades, back in 1998, when cellular lines were a commodity, obtaining one was a challenge, getting one in your name was the holy grail.

- Advertisement -

A few of years ago, in 2013, when ICE lost its battle to stop number portability, many flocked to competing services.They were no longer tied to ICE.

And ICE knew this would hurt them bigly.

At the beginning of number portability ICE retained most of its customers. Number portability was ‘complicated’ and if you owed ICE money, pay up first. Luckily for many, ICE still was antiquated, it tied a debt to a phone number and not the person. That is, you could owe ICE big bucks for one number, not pay it and still continue to have anothe rnumber. This goes back to a time when ICE only allowed a maximum of three numbers to a person, its safety mechanism. With modernization, ICE caught up with the times.

But it couldn’t stop customers fleeing, looking for better deals, more services, whatever.

- Advertisement -

Many ICE customers who wanted to see what the new services brought picked up a second or third line, but never cancelling ICE. I was/am one of the those.

No way José was I  or will ever going to give up my ICE number. My number is known to countless for more than a decade. But even with number portability, what happens if I want to go back to ICE and they don’t want me. The folks at ICE are a vindictive bunch. For years, before the opening of the telecom market and almost impossible for a tourist to obtain cellular service, not like today, I was in the business of cellular rentals and worked closely with ICE – the only provider then.

I remember having to closely guard that relationship, forging allies within the ICE administration, managers at two branches and counter staff, not to get favours, rather to keep my lines going without a hassle. I was clear up front of my business model, they never said OK, but were tolerant. I paid thousands of dollars each month in telephone bills. Never complained. Made the line, sometimes hours on end, to deal with a small problem. I always took the time to say hello to the counter staff that had served me, the manager. Over paid for phones buying ICE-approved devices. Ass kissing? You betcha!

I remember one would be competitor was cut at the knees (figuratively) when they tried to be smart about it. Costa Rica is a small market, everyone knows each other, competition many times have to work together to meet the needs of a customer. This would be competitor tried to buy his way in, allegedly offering bribes, cutting lines, created attention to himself, added non-ICE services to his offer, purchased non-ICE approved phones (cheaper) and so on. Not a good ending.

But I digress.

A report this week by  Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (Sutel) – the mobile telephone regulator – confirms ICE worries back then and why they fought so hard for the change, trying to keep a lid on the can beans that they knew well could never be recovered if opened. It did open and the beans have spread.

- Advertisement -

The report reveals that ICE has lost 435,000 customers since 2013. Meanwhile, Movistar (Spain’s Telefonica) has connected 299,000 and Claro (Mexico’s America Movil) 256,000 new customers in the same time period.

The Sutel numbers reveal that in the last three years, ICE under its Kolbi brand, snatched 82,000 cellular phone lines from its competitors, meanwhile, competitors snatched from ICE 518,000 lines.

In Costa Rica there are, according to the Sutel, a total of 7.5 million cellular telephone lines – in the country, a country with a population of less than 5 million.

Article originally appeared on Tico Bull and is republished here with permission.

- Advertisement -

We strive for accuracy in its reports. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, send us an email. The Q reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it’s accuracy.

"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Related Articles

ICE to start charging at fast-charging stations for electric cars

QCOSTARICA - The honeymoon of free charges at Instituto Costarricense de...

More than 36,000 people in indigenous territories will have telephony and internet

QCOSTARICA - Some 36,000 people from 14 indigenous territories in the...


Today’s Covid News: 32 deaths in the last 24 hours; 3,039 news cases

QCOSTARICA - Costa Rica reported this Thursday the highest number of deaths associated with covid-19 in a single day, since the start of the...

Three thousand hospitalized by the end of May, UCR projects

QCOSTARICA - On Monday, the Ministry of Health reported 1,280 people in hospital with covid-19, of which 466 of them in an ICU, aged...

Coronavirus digest: choice to get ‘vaccinated or infected’

The German health minister, Jens Spahn, said that despite falling daily cases of the COVID-19 in Germany, caution is still needed. "Everyone will experience this virus," Spahn...

27-year-old connected to an ‘artificial lung’ for 111 days after infected with covid-19

QCOSTARICA - In contrast to the belief that only the old get deadly sick after being infected with covid-19, a 27-year-old old and a...

College of Physicians proposes to apply 150,000 doses weekly; tighten vehicle restrictions

QCOSTARICA - Applying 150,000 doses per week of the covid-19 vaccine and establishing stricter vehicle restrictions temporarily, are the two main proposals of the...

Covid vaccine passport, salvation or division?

EL UNIVERSAL Washington / Brussels - The desperation to reactivate economies, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, has prompted an idea: to create...

Today’s Covid-19 News: New infections continue over 2K daily, despite drop in R rate

QCOSTARICA - The Covid-19 infection rate in Costa Rica dropped, but not enough to reduce the rate of infection. While the indicator stands at 1.32,...

Rodolfo Méndez will complete the Circunvalación, a work that he started in 1978

QCOSTARICA - It's been almost 43 years since the Circunvalación (Ruta 39) project, to provide the capital with a peripheral ring road, was started,...

Mexico City reduces restrictions due to sustained decline in cases of covid-19

Q24N - Mexico City will reduce social distancing measures as of next week in the face of a continuous decline in the spread of...


Get our daily newsletter with the latest posts directly in your mailbox. Click on the subscribe and fill out the form. It's that simple!

Article originally appeared on Tico Bull and is republished here with permission.

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.