Ricardo Maduro Joest is the elected President of the Republic of Honduras. Mr Maduro was the President of the Central Bank of Honduras and served as the Coordinator of the Economic Cabinet from 1990 to 1994. He was elected as a Congressman to the Central American Parliament and was a candidate for a seat in the National Congress of Honduras. As a member of the National party of Honduras, he has participated actively and has held the positions of Speaker of the party’s Local Committee in Tegucigalpa, First Speaker of the National Central Committee and President of the National Party of Honduras. He has managed two presidential campaigns for his party. Mr Maduro has had extensive business experience, including as General Manager of Xerox in Honduras, and as the Executive Director of Inversiones La Paz. Ricardo Maduro has won many awards such as: the Honduras-USA Chamber of Commerce Businessman of the Year, the El Heraldo newspaper’s Man of the Year award, and the Honduran Managers’ and Businessmen’s Association’s ‘Boris Goldstein’ Outstanding Businessman of the Year award. Mr Ricardo Maduro earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Stanford University in California.
Honduras’s low fixed and mobile teledensity at the end of 2001 prompted the government to mandate the opening of its telecommunications market. The government’s innovative policy opened the market to, essentially, any company that asked to enter. The new, competitive, so-called ‘sub-operators’ were guaranteed freedom from tariff controls, technological neutrality, freedom of coverage and freedom to transfer property. The policy produced results. At the end of 2001 teledensity was 8.5%, today, with 1,750,000 lines, teledensity has grown to 26.9%.
The development of telecommunications services is an essential factor in the overall development of its citizens and in improving the Honduras’ competitiveness. Without efficient, high quality communications, our citizens and the businesses that operate in the country face disadvantages compared to their competitors in the international market. At the end of 2001, fixed-phone teledensity in Honduras was only 4.8 per cent, with 310,929 lines in service. With its mobile teledensity of only 3.7 per cent, with 237,629 cellular lines in service, the country lagged behind the rest of the continent. Given the need to energize and modernize the sector, to correct its deficiencies and imperfections, the Government of Honduras decided to implement a strategy of opening the sector in order to develop it. The following presents the most notable achievements during the period of 2002-2005: Opening the fixed telephony market The Telephony for All, Modernity for Honduras programme Within its guidelines for the Policy for the Telecommunications Sector, the Government has innovated with its Telephony for All, Modernity for Honduras Programme. By way of this programme, Hondutel has extended its concession rights, except for international services, to private companies called sub-operators, to provide services such as telephony, public telephones, telex, telegraphy and carrier services. The programme was inaugurated in September 2003, with the objective of providing basic fixed telephony throughout the country. It is hoped it will modernise the infrastructure and create competition to benefit the industry and provide users with tariffs that are more competitive. This is an initiative to satisfy the expected demand, in 2006, for telecommunications services, estimated at 752,000 lines. The programme is based upon investments from private companies. It complements the investment in the sector that the Government is making directly through Hondutel. Legally, this programme was approved by legislative decree number 159-2003 and ratified on 7th October 2003. Conatel’s Resolutions NR018/03, NR019/03, NR020/03 and NR021/03 regulate the decree. This decree authorized Hondutel to sign Commercialisation Contracts, without discrimination and without any sort of exclusivity, with any private company that request this. The decree also establishes freedom from tariff controls, technological neutrality, freedom of coverage and freedom to transfer property. In addition to the commercialisers or sub-operators, it allows Hondutel or these commercialisers to sign contracts with service re-sellers. The programme has been a total success; up until now 50 commercialisation contracts and 25 interconnection agreements have been signed and 22 companies are already operating. These companies have installed 237,900 lines, of which 65,791 are actually in service. If we bear in mind that Hondutel had 577,000 lines installed and 389,833 in use, the sub-operators already have a 29.2 per cent participation in the market’s installed lines and a 14.4 per cent participation in the market’s lines in use. The sub-operators’ total investment amounts to US$60 million. This complements the US$200 million invested by the Government through Hondutel. The fixed teledensity for the month of August 2005 has increased to 7 per cent, an increase of 2.2 per cent The result of opening the market in fixed telephony will make it possible to meet the total forecasted demand for the year 2006 (752,000 lines) with the capacity of 814,900 lines, which will have been installed by the end of 2005. It is estimated that 500,000 fixed lines will be in service by the end of 2005. The success of this innovative programme is evident and a source of pride for the Honduran population. Opening the mobile telephony market Competition in Mobile Telephony Following the guidelines of the Telecommunications Policy established by the Government of the Republic of Honduras, the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel), in its role as the nation’s telecommunications regulatory organ, was charged with executing the process of opening the market for mobile telephony by means of a rapid and transparent international public bidding. At the end of this process, the company, Megatel, was awarded the second PCS Band Mobile Cellular Telephony Concession. Megatel began operations in November 2003 and it already has more than 340,000 users in operation. The company was acquired during 2004 by América Móvil, an international operator. The investment by mobile companies during the period 2002-2004 has risen to US$312 million, with additional investment for 2005 estimated at US$50 million. The competition fostered by the Government’s policies has had a very positive impact. The service coverage has expanded to new communities and, with the special offers and promotions, sales have been excellent. In addition, the new company has offered new opportunities for employment to many Hondurans, directly creating in this manner more than 150 jobs and, at least, 500 jobs indirectly. The results are more than evident: The growth of the mobile telephone sector has resulted in an increase in mobile teledensity from 3.7 per cent to 19.2 per cent in the last four years, with a 50 per cent reduction in tariffs. It is evident that by following a path of opening the telecommunications sector, by which private investment is stimulated and competition is introduced, satisfactory results are produced. The combined number of fixed and mobile telephones in Honduras at the end of 2001 was only 548,558 and the combined teledensity was 8.5 per cent. By the end of 2005 there will be 1,750,000 lines in service and a teledensity of 26.9 per cent. The growth of more than 1 million lines in a four-year period was more than three times greater than in the preceding 25-year period.