Marianas Variety

Last updateFri, 23 Aug 2019 12am

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    Thursday, August 22, 2019-3:17:35A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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IT&E: We’re not a monopoly

IT&E, one of Micronesia’s telecommunications companies, yesterday said it is not a monopoly as other companies are free to do what they want and invest in the CNMI just as IT&E did.

Danilo Bong Mojica, CEO of IT&E, told reporters yesterday that their company has been a long-term partner of the CNMI, and probably one of the most successful companies here.

Mojica was on Saipan to talk to lawmakers on Capital Hill about the ‘insinuation” that IT&E runs a monopoly as the lease owner of undersea fiber bandwidth in the CNMI.

Mojica said IT&E is the only underwater cable provider here, but there is no monopoly.

“Technically, a monopoly is when you don’t allow others to engage in that business, prevent them from creating their own cable facility,” Mojica said.

“A monopoly is when you keep others from joining you to create that business, but other business here can do whatever they want to do,” he added.

IT&E’s competitor, Docomo Pacific, earlier said the cost of bringing real-time cable TV programming from Guam to Saipan every month would be $600,000 while the cost is only $46,000 to bring real-time cable TV programming from the West Coast to Guam.

Mojica noted that Docomo Pacific is a $50 billion company, with an income of about $28 million. It just invested over $130 million to merge with MCV Broadband and invested $82 million to buy Guam Cell and Hafatel, he added.

“This is a company that is much bigger than IT&E, but its investments are Guam-based. IT&E is here and we put our money where our mouth is because we actually look at the benefits we can give the people in the CNMI,” Mojica said.

“If this company loves Saipan, why don’t they put their investments here?” he asked,

Mojica said they don’t know where Docomo got the $600,000 figure.

“They didn’t ask us and we didn’t give them a quote,” he said. Normally, clients who come to them present papers on how much they need and ask for quotes, then ask for discounts, he added.

“Maybe they [Docomo] have an idea of what the pricing would be when they come to us but you cannot preempt us on our pricing,” Mojica said.

He said it’s important to understand the process of economy of scale. There are seven undersea cable landings on Guam, and each of those seven cable landings are owned by consortiums who would have decided to go to Saipan if they saw that the business climate here was sound, but they did not, and they stayed on Guam because there’s “traffic” there, Mojica said.

But “IT&E is on Saipan, and we deliver from Guam to Saipan,” he added.

IT&E is a company that is based here and targeting consumers in the CNMI, he said.

Mojica said a lot of people are not aware IT&E has not increased its rates in 10 years.

“If anyone talks about usurping profits to the detriment of the CNMI economy, that’s not true.”

Mojica said at the height of the internet boom, the biggest source of revenue is data, not calls or text messages.

He said IT&E also came up with EVDO for mobile phones and DSL Broadband for landlines.

“IT&E was the first to bring EVDO high speed data to Saipan and Guam, and last year, we actually reduced the price of DSL. There was no price increase but we doubled the speed that consumers can get,” Mojica said.

He said the doubled speed brought a lot of benefits and has allowed the people of Saipan to watch Netflix.

He added that even though power is a very big part of their operations, they have not increased their rates.

Mojica said IT&E is here for the long-term, one of the telecommunications operations that stayed here when everyone else was jumping ship in the late 1990’s.

He said IT&E decided to stay and invest in underwater fiber optics and to look at future opportunities.

“One of the foundations of IT&E is that we build, finance, maintain and rebuild.” Mojica said. After one storm hit Saipan, IT&E spent about $1.8 million on repairs of its facilities, he added.

“As long-time partners with the CNMI, our behavior indicates our commitment and partnership,” he said.

He noted that over 95 percent of the IT&E employees are locals, and the company pays a good competitive wage while training employees for the future.

“We are very involved in the schools, very conscious of the commitment we have to the community. In terms of developing human capital, IT&E is one of the top companies here,” he said.

Mojica said that he has respect for Docomo as it has been a partner for many years, and their door is not closed to negotiations.

Docomo replies

In an email last night, Docomo Pacific general manager James Nelson said prior to finalizing the MCV purchase, former MCV CEO Craig Thompson researched the cost based on current IT&E rates of $1,000 per Mb and how much bandwidth would be needed to bring “real time” cable TV to the CNMI.

“In this case, we would need at minimum 600 Mb. That is where we got the $600,000 figure,” Nelson said. He added that if they wanted to provide high definition TV, they would need 980 Mb.

“This issue of high undersea fiber cost is not new to the CNMI. In most, if not all, the previous CNMI economic summits, it has been viewed as monopolistic and a road block to reviving the economy,” Nelson said.

He added that Docomo Pacific was not allowed to attend the “meeting” on Capital Hill yesterday.

“Although the newspaper article and the Senate announcement stated that it was a joint committee hearing, we were told that it was a private meeting and that we were not welcome,” Nelson said.

He added it was IT&E that said Docomo was not welcome at the meeting.