THE people clamoring for any one of the 250,000 new GSM cell phone lines released Tuesday by the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) – the government institution that has a monopoly on telecommunications in the country – overloaded the system and prevented many of the approximately 800 private businesses authorized to distribute the lines from doing so.
The result was huge lines of people extending for city blocks throughout San José, the rest of the Central Valley and other parts of the country, where people baked for hours in the hot sun as they waited for a cell phone line. Because many of the private businesses were unable to connect to the ICE Web site, necessary to authorize new numbers, huge crowds concentrated at some of the 60 ICE offices where there were fewer problems.
Though lines continued on Wednesday, ICE Director of Mobile Services Orlando Cascante told The Tico Times that the problems had been fixed and lines were being distributed. Cascante said private businesses had, despite the setbacks, distributed 10,000 lines on Tuesday, and ICE locations had sold “a similar number,” for approximately 20,000 new lines released Tuesday.
In January, ICE will release 250,000 additional cell phone lines, and another 100,000 in February, Cascante said.