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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Rep. Méndez Nuñez defends breakup of internet monopoly

Rep. Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Nuñez

By The Star Staff

The New Progressive Party minority leader in the island House of Representatives, Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Nuñez, on Sunday defended Law 80-2017, which broke a potential government monopoly through an internet provider, PREPA.NET, and the regulatory body now known as the Telecommunications Bureau.

“This law came to address the great concern that the government has a dual role in the telecommunications market, as a provider (PREPA.NET) and regulator through the Telecommunications Bureau,” the lawmaker said. “Allowing the government to participate in monopolizing the retail market for telecommunications and information services could result in the dissolution of the market because they would have advantages that the private sector does not have.”

“Today in Puerto Rico there are more than 100 high-speed internet service companies, something that was not thought of in 2017,” Méndez Nuñez said. “Today the map of internet coverage on the island is almost full. All of this has its genesis in Law 80-2017. Leaving the structure as it was would have given PREPA.NET advantages over others. Public corporations and their subsidiaries do not pay taxes. Subsidiaries would be able to use their parent company’s infrastructure at a discounted price or at no cost. The parent company could directly or indirectly subsidize the subsidiary’s operations through cross-subsidies. It would have been unfair competition.”

In the previous four-year government term, the then-House speaker was the author of House Bill 27, which became the “Law for Fair Competition in Telecommunications, Information and Pay Television Services in Puerto Rico.”

In the preceding 2013-2016 term, a bipartisan effort took place through Senate Bill 1370, introduced by Sens. Ramón Ruiz Nieves, Lawrence “Larry” Seilhamer and Carmelo Ríos, with the purpose of avoiding a fiber optic communications services monopoly in Puerto Rico. The measure was approved in both chambers but was vetoed by then-Gov. Alejandro García Padilla.

“Today we have a vibrant growing telecommunications market where companies with local capital have been able to enter and offer their products and services at competitive prices, for the benefit of Puerto Rican consumers,” Méndez Nuñez said. “That is the legacy of Law 80. We will continue to defend these parameters of free competition and free markets.”

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