Uncategorized — 09 December 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks
BTL and Smart agree on service in the south

BELIZE CITY–In mid-November, Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) and Speednet Communications, the parent company of Smart, went to court after Smart filed for an interim injunction at the Supreme Court in an effort to prevent BTL from discontinuing its data service to approximately 7,000 Smart customers in the Toledo District.

The case was adjourned to today, Monday, December 8, but when the attorneys for the parties met in the Supreme Court of Justice Shona Griffith, it was to formally ask the court to put aside the application for the interim injunction because the two telecommunication companies had reached an agreement on the matter of BTL continuing to provide the service to Smart’s southernmost customers.

This latest round of legal wrangling between Belize’s two telecommunications providers stems from Smart’s reliance on BTL’s infrastructure to provide voice and data services to its Toledo customers.

BTL, however, had contended that the doubling of its internet bandwidth has placed a greater demand on its system and as a consequence, the company indicated to Smart that it would discontinue providing the service, for which both parties had entered a contractual arrangement in July 2014.

BTL had consequently served Smart with a 30-day notice of its intention to discontinue its provision of the service, and that was when Smart filed for an interim injunction to preserve the communications service for its Toledo customers.

In the application for its interim injunction, Smart had also named the Public Utilities Commission as a party to its case.

This morning, however, after Smart’s attorney, Andrew Marshalleck, agreed to drop the case against BTL and the PUC, attorney for the PUC, Fred Lumor, sought to receive a $10,000 cost of court award.

Justice Griffith, however, while not definitively denying Lumor the $10,000 cost of court, told him that she was not prepared to order that amount, unless “substantial argument is presented.”

Speednet has indicated that it is willing to pay the cost to which the PUC is entitled, but noted that the case had not reached the case management stage, so the amount would not be that much.

Since the notice of discontinuance of the claim was scheduled to have been filed later today at the Supreme Court Registry, Lumor and the PUC can apply to be heard on the question of cost.

Speednet and BTL will bear their own cost of court for the case.

After the hearing, attorney for BTL, Rodwell Williams, S.C., explained that BTL would continue to provide the service to Smart up to February 28, 2015.

When Amandala asked Williams what are the options left open to Smart for the continuation of the case after February 28, Williams declined to comment. He would only say that after that time, the onus will be on Smart to continue to provide the service to its customers.

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