The Puerto Rican Telecommunications Alliance (APT by its Spanish acronym) requests that it be allowed to continue opening locations in order to serve the hundreds of clients who have to wait over a month to receive the services they require due to the high demand these companies receive, which they cannot handle with few branches open.
Commenting on the industry's limitations caused by the COVID-19 crisis, APT President Felipe Hernández said, "we want to be able to serve people who need internet services, which are more important than ever at the moment. Among all the telecommunications companies, we are serving 500 people daily, of the 5,000 or 6,000 that we serve under normal conditions."
Hernández, also president of VPNET—which has 40 employees who have continued working throughout the pandemic—requests that they receive the attention that this sector deserves, which is essential so that people can continue working from their homes during the quarantine and curfew.
"We don't have the priority that we should. There are other sectors that have more concessions when we are the ones who have the burden of the economy. We need more openness to serve people who are in great need of our services and we cannot give them to them immediately. Imagine, if we didn't have the internet now, how would TEAM or ZOOM meetings be done and how would remote health services be provided?," Hernández affirmed.
He assured that the limitation in the number of clients that can be served on a daily basis is prompting them to crowd to request services—as is the case with cell phone stores—as there are very few stores open to the public and consumers arrive to request an appointment.
Pedro Andrés, former APT president and president of telecommunications company Neptuno, said, "[Cell phone stores] are giving appointments now for the month of July to replace units, when this is the people's only means of communication. Construction projects for new communication towers are also holding up, because government offices are closed and the permitting process cannot be carried out."
"What we ask is to open more locations to serve more people and activate other communications sectors," Andrés added.
Both industry leaders coincided that telecommunications services are essential throughout the COVID-19 emergency and that the sector is ready to operate in more centers and manage sales and service transactions, with the strict health protocols required to prevent the spread of the virus.