Belize’s Supreme Court has issued a judgment in favour of incumbent Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), dismissing a claim from alternative telecoms company SpeedNet, filed in December 2009. According to local newspaper Amandala, SpeedNet had alleged that BTL had violated the Belize Telecommunications Act when it interrupted services to SpeedNet and its customers, due to a dispute over wholesale agreements with BTL, which SpeedNet has maintained are valid. BTL temporarily disconnected SpeedNet’s services in late 2009, amid a dispute over agreements made between BTL and SpeedNet when the former was under the management control of the Ashcroft group of companies. The government has since deemed SpeedNet (which uses the Smart brand name) to be a part of the Ashcroft group of companies itself, due to shareholding structure details it uncovered in parliament, and BTL has argued that the agreements had put SpeedNet at a favourable advantage at BTL’s expense.
The court ordered SpeedNet to enter into new negotiations with BTL, commencing from 7 April 2011, to not later than 7 May 2011, for the purpose of making new interconnection and infrastructure agreements, including rates and charges. Agreements should be submitted to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for approval no later than 14 May 2011. If the parties fail to agree on new terms, the PUC shall, by order not later than 7 July 2011, establish the terms and conditions for standard interconnection and infrastructure agreements. SpeedNet was ordered to pay the court costs of BTL.