CAPITOL HILL Saipan — Pacific Telecom Inc. which officially took over operations of Verizon from Micronesian Telecommunica-tions Corp. late last month is obligated by an order from the Commonwealth Telecommunications Commission to spend $20 million over the next four years for improvements on its system said Adam Turner acting director of the CTC.

He likewise told the Journal that PTI is also required to have Verizon as a technical consultant. The two requirements were among conditions imposed by CTC in issuing a license to PTI he said.

“We evaluated the company with regard to their technical and financial qualifications ” Turner said. “In both cases the company had an incomplete track record. So we had to fashion an agreement to ensure that PTI would remain financially viable and would be technically able to provide the services that the people expect.” He said the conditions “give us confidence that the quality of service would be maintained.”

Jose Ricardo Delgado president and chief executive officer of PTI expressed relief that the four-year negotiation for the $60 million transaction with Verizon was finally consummated.

During an official announcement made on Sept. 22 at Verizon’s Susupe offices — a day after the contract was signed — Delgado told officials and the company’s employees that he was happy that the deal was finally concluded.

“After four long years we have made it together ” he said. “This is the first day of a long journey.” Delgado vowed to “improve customer service” even as he said that the task ahead was “enormous” and “difficult.”

He asked the company’s employees to work with him and said that he will be implementing cost-cutting measures. “We have to tighten our belts. Everybody should exercise cost-control ” he told a jam-packed crowd of Verizon officials and employees.

Quite how involved in the company Delgado will be personally remains a matter of speculation but he is understood to have previously expressed a desire to build a house in Saipan.

Part of the CTC-imposed agreement is the lifting of inter-island toll which cost 14c a minute. Elected officials from Tinian and Rota had been working to abolish the fee arguing that Public Law 10-14 which was signed on June 18 1996 by incumbent Rota Sen. Paul A. Manglona in his capacity as acting governor provided for uniform rates across the island. The law is also known as the Fiber Optic Communications Facilitation and Competitive Telecommunications Act which gave way for the installation of fiber optic cables connecting the islands in 1998.

There will also be no changes in Verizon’s management and employees. Turner said it took four years because the administration exercised due diligence.

“We hope to see from Mr. Delgado clear improvement in both the service and options available to the consumers ” he said.

PTI is owned by Prospector Investment Holdings Inc. a company set up in the Cayman Islands — a thriving offshore financial center — by the Delgado family. The Delgados are understood to be campaign contributors and supporters of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The Delgados used to own Islacom which was contracted to roll out 300 000 landlines in the Visayas one of three major regions in the Philippines and operated a cellular phone system. It was eventually sold to the Ayala Groups Globe Telecoms in 1999 due to financial difficulties and the Delgados’ problems with the German investors Deutsche Telekom. MBJ