Search

 

Cablegate: Colombian Telecom: Vm Talks Up Satellite, Pledges

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3006/01 2611629
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181629Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0690
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 9165
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2937
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ SEP LIMA 0112
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 1319
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0682
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 4384
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 0110
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHDIFCC/FCC WASHDC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 003006

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

EEB/CIP FOR TFINTON; FCC FOR JGIUSTI; COMMERCE FOR
ITA/MAC/WH/ JANGLIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECPS ECON EINV ETTC CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIAN TELECOM: VM TALKS UP SATELLITE, PLEDGES
PROGRESS ON DISPUTES

REF: 08 BOGOTA 3583

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Viceminister of Communications Daniel
Medina explained to us the benefits to governance, education,
health, and quality of life the GOC hopes to reap by
launching a satellite in 2012. He expressed the importance
the GOC attaches to a clean and transparent bidding process.
Emboffs noted that three U.S. companies plan to bid on the
project, which is expected to be awarded before the end of
2009. Medina noted that the newly enacted telecommunications
law should help form the basis of resolving several pending
disagreements between the Ministry and U.S. firms. END
SUMMARY.

SATELLITE TO CONNECT REMOTE AREAS OF COLOMBIA
---------------------------------------------

2. (U) Colombia's satellite project (Satcol) is an integral
piece of its "Todos los Colombianos Conectados y Informados"
(All Colombian Connected and Informed) strategy. According
to VM Medina, Colombia currently has approximately 24,000
"public internet connectivity points" (including schools,
hospitals, libraries, local governments, and military
battalion headquarters.) In addition to bringing
telecommunications costs down by an estimated 30-35 percent,
Satcol will help expand this number to 50,000 and bring
internet and telephony to areas whose geography, climate, and
sparse population make land-based connectivity unrealistic.
Medina emphasized Satcol's expected role in increasing state
presence, improving medical services, and strengthening
social cohesion in rural (especially Afro-Colombian and
indigenous) communities.

SATCOL BID PROCESS MOVING FORWARD QUICKLY
-----------------------------------------

3. (U) The Ministry has released an initial draft of terms of
reference for the approximately USD 250 million satellite
project and will hold public meetings in the coming days to
define risk-sharing and finalize the terms of reference. The
GOC has said it plans to announce the winning bid in
November. Colombia is looking for a 2012 launch of the
satellite, which will remain in a geostationary orbit for 15
years.

4. (SBU) Three U.S. companies (Lockheed Martin, Orbital
Sciences, and Space Systems/Loral) are expected to join
several other international firms in bidding on the project.
Medina acknowledged that a large bid like this one inevitably
generates rumors as part of the competitive process. In
particular, he expressed concerns over: 1) potential USG
authorizations required of U.S. companies' participation; 2)
potential USG limitations on orbital positions if a U.S.
company were to win; and 3) potential restrictions on basing
the satellite control station in Colombia, which he
characterized as a sine quo non.

5. (SBU) Emboffs pledged to work closely with the Ministry
and U.S. bidders to clear up any potential doubts associated
with USG requirements so that U.S. companies would not be
disadvantaged by misinformation or misunderstandings.
Commercial Counselor noted some concerns over changing dates
of public meetings and the relatively short timeframe between
the release of terms of reference and the due date for
bidders to translate into Spanish and submit their bids.
Medina acknowledged the issues and pointed to President
Uribe's interest in having the contract awarded before the
end of the year as the reason for the short timetable.
(COMMENT: Under a typical satellite bid, a government would
already have its orbital slot. The fact that Colombia does
not is coloring the bid effort. END COMMENT.)

NEW TELECOM LAW MAY RESOLVE U.S. COMPANY ISSUES
--------------------------------------------- --

6. (SBU) Medina reviewed several ongoing disputes between the
Ministry and U.S. companies and pointed to the new

telecommunications law (Law 1341 of 2009, promulgated on July
31) as a positive step forward. Diveo and Avantel were both
disadvantaged by the Ministry's decision to lower the cost of
some frequencies (used by their competitors) but not on
others (used by these two companies). The Ministry admitted
in March 2009 that this was unintentional and committed to
issue a decree remedying the situation. According to Medina,
having the new law on the books was required in order for the
Ministry to submit the long-promised decree to the
President's office. (NOTE: Medina said (not for the first
time) that he hoped the decree would move within 1-2 weeks.
END NOTE.)

7. (SBU) Medina pointed out that the new law had already
given the Ministry the discretion to resolve another of
Avantel's complaint -- that its license terms were more
restrictive than those of its competitors. Medina mentioned
that the Ministry was in discussions with Avantel about a
series of measures to address the company's concerns,
including: 1) passing the aforementioned decree to lower the
cost of the spectrum Avantel uses; 2) decreasing Avantel's
required payment under the telecommunications tax; 3) opening
the 2.5 GHz frequency only to specialized operators, such as
Avantel; and 4) compensating the company for interference on
frequencies for which Avantel had licenses.

8. (SBU) Regarding the case of Sprint Communications, Medina
noted that the company's formal complaint against Colombia
Telecomunicaciones (a Spanish-Colombian joint venture) of
unfair competition and abuse of monopoly position was
currently before the Superintendent of Commerce (where it has
been since January, 2009) and therefore outside the
jurisdiction of the Ministry of Communications. Nonetheless,
he committed to continue to raise within the GOC the
importance of resolving the issue.
Brownfield

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>


Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>