The rollercoaster ride that began three years ago when Puerto Rico Telephone requested an islandwide cable television license from the Telecommunications Regulatory Board has seemingly come to a stop, with a decision by the agency to grant the petition.
The order, which is basically a do-over from a prior one released earlier this month that contained stipulations considered illegal, gives PRT the go-ahead to launch islandwide Internet Protocol TV service. The company will compete head-on with all of the island’s cable television providers with its so-called ClaroTV service.
The nine-page resolution establishes five conditions that PRT must abide by, namely submitting a “Consumer Protection Code” including details on penalties for early termination, late payment fees, and automatic contract renewal stipulations, among other things.
It must also submit an expansion plan containing technical details related to service quality, improvements in unserved areas and previously served areas. The cable television franchise fee will cost the company 3 percent of its revenue.
PRT will have to meet all of the conditions prior to launching service, and will be subject to a review in six months, the order stated.
In its conclusions, the TRB said granting PRT the cable franchise license responded to the public interest and will spark competition resulting in “better prices, better choices and better technology” for consumers.
Two of the three TRB members — President Sandra Torres and recently appointed Associate Member Gloria Escudero — signed the order, while Associate Member Nixyvette Santini filed a dissident opinion that reportedly sheds light on the infighting that has been taking place at the agency regarding this petition.
The problems among Santini, former Associate Member Vicente Aguirre and Torres have triggered a House probe into the manner in which the PRT cable franchise license request has been handled.
The petition has been the subject of heated controversy and has been opposed by competitors OneLink, Choice Cable and Liberty. Most recently, Choice filed a complaint at the agency claiming PRT had been building its network without a license, an issue Choice also brought up early in the proceeding.