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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, August 8, 2022
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PROSSER BILL HAS COMPETITION

One of Jeffrey Prosser's competitors today asked the government for the same kind of tax benefits the senate has voted to give Prosser.
Telecommunications veteran Gordon Ackley is proposing to build a telecommunications training school on St. Croix, give free Internet connections to all public schools in the territory, invest $10 million in public projects, offer space around his towers for public parks and green areas and offer free use of tower sites for government emergency communications equipment — if the Legislature gives his companies the same tax breaks it gave Prosser's Innovative Communications Corp.
Ackley would also consider building a 200-room hotel, convention center and casino, and would move his corporate headquarters to St. Croix, to property he owns on the Old Hospital Ground.
"In the 22 years that I've been here I've never received or asked for any kind of tax breaks or IDC benefits, " Ackley said. "I guess it's time to level the playing field."
Ackley submitted his proposal Monday in writing to the governor, lieutenant governor, and all of the senators.
In his letter to the senators who voted against the so-called Prosser bill, Ackley noted that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 promotes competition in the local marketplace.
"We started VIAccess, an Internet service provider, in 1997 and now we have new competition from VI PowerNet," a Prosser company. "We started our beeper company in 1985, for which we have competition from Vitelcom," another Prosser company. "We started our SMR (Specialized Mobile Radio) business in 1982, to provide two-way radio and mobile telephone services, long before VitelCellular entered the market in 1990."
Ackley points out that in all of his telecommunications businesses he has direct competition from Prosser's companies.
At 2:30 a.m. Saturday, after 14 hours of testimony and debate, and despite allegations that Prosser associates had engaged in bribery and intimidation, the controversial land-for-tax-breaks ‘Prosser deal' bill passed the Senate by an 8-to-7 vote. The bill calls for long-term tax breaks for Innovative Communications Company, which is solely owned by Prosser.
The bill calls for Prosser to give 1,000 acres of land on St. Croix to the V.I. Government plus $4.5 million to cover improvements. It also calls for him to give up to $9.95 million to finance certain public projects to be built on government land.
In exchange, Prosser's Innovative Communications Corp., and its shareholders, would receive full tax breaks for 30 years.
Under the Ackley Companies' proposal, along with the other direct benefits to the government, Ackley would make an investment of $10 million in new facilities for wireless digital subscriber lines (WDSL). "With the new wireless technology, we have high-speed Internet access and voice and telephone capabilities." Ackley said.
"The technology I am proposing is far less susceptible to long-term outages after natural disasters and offers an alternative to the copper or cable systems now in place," he added. "I think the public will be responsive to the new technology, especially if they remember the long days after the hurricanes."
"We hope to be passing local voice traffic by no later than September of this year. The local and long-distance calling feature is the next generation of what we already have up and running. We currently have about 50 businesses on land that are using the service via three cell sites. We also have boats in the harbor who can stay connected to the Internet while they travel in range of the cell sites."
"We only have three cell sites right now, but we intend to build it out to 35 cell sites within the next two to three years."
"The timing all depends on how long it takes us to get trained Virgin Islanders to work in the field."
The Virgin Islanders would be trained in the school Ackley is proposing to build.
The timing also depends on whether he gets the tax breaks he is requesting. "I'm going to build this wireless system no matter what. I just can't say how long it will take until I see if I can get the breaks. But if you don't try, you never know."

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One of Jeffrey Prosser's competitors today asked the government for the same kind of tax benefits the senate has voted to give Prosser.
Telecommunications veteran Gordon Ackley is proposing to build a telecommunications training school on St. Croix, give free Internet connections to all public schools in the territory, invest $10 million in public projects, offer space around his towers for public parks and green areas and offer free use of tower sites for government emergency communications equipment — if the Legislature gives his companies the same tax breaks it gave Prosser's Innovative Communications Corp.
Ackley would also consider building a 200-room hotel, convention center and casino, and would move his corporate headquarters to St. Croix, to property he owns on the Old Hospital Ground.
"In the 22 years that I've been here I've never received or asked for any kind of tax breaks or IDC benefits, " Ackley said. "I guess it's time to level the playing field."
Ackley submitted his proposal Monday in writing to the governor, lieutenant governor, and all of the senators.
In his letter to the senators who voted against the so-called Prosser bill, Ackley noted that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 promotes competition in the local marketplace.
"We started VIAccess, an Internet service provider, in 1997 and now we have new competition from VI PowerNet," a Prosser company. "We started our beeper company in 1985, for which we have competition from Vitelcom," another Prosser company. "We started our SMR (Specialized Mobile Radio) business in 1982, to provide two-way radio and mobile telephone services, long before VitelCellular entered the market in 1990."
Ackley points out that in all of his telecommunications businesses he has direct competition from Prosser's companies.
At 2:30 a.m. Saturday, after 14 hours of testimony and debate, and despite allegations that Prosser associates had engaged in bribery and intimidation, the controversial land-for-tax-breaks ‘Prosser deal' bill passed the Senate by an 8-to-7 vote. The bill calls for long-term tax breaks for Innovative Communications Company, which is solely owned by Prosser.
The bill calls for Prosser to give 1,000 acres of land on St. Croix to the V.I. Government plus $4.5 million to cover improvements. It also calls for him to give up to $9.95 million to finance certain public projects to be built on government land.
In exchange, Prosser's Innovative Communications Corp., and its shareholders, would receive full tax breaks for 30 years.
Under the Ackley Companies' proposal, along with the other direct benefits to the government, Ackley would make an investment of $10 million in new facilities for wireless digital subscriber lines (WDSL). "With the new wireless technology, we have high-speed Internet access and voice and telephone capabilities." Ackley said.
"The technology I am proposing is far less susceptible to long-term outages after natural disasters and offers an alternative to the copper or cable systems now in place," he added. "I think the public will be responsive to the new technology, especially if they remember the long days after the hurricanes."
"We hope to be passing local voice traffic by no later than September of this year. The local and long-distance calling feature is the next generation of what we already have up and running. We currently have about 50 businesses on land that are using the service via three cell sites. We also have boats in the harbor who can stay connected to the Internet while they travel in range of the cell sites."
"We only have three cell sites right now, but we intend to build it out to 35 cell sites within the next two to three years."
"The timing all depends on how long it takes us to get trained Virgin Islanders to work in the field."
The Virgin Islanders would be trained in the school Ackley is proposing to build.
The timing also depends on whether he gets the tax breaks he is requesting. "I'm going to build this wireless system no matter what. I just can't say how long it will take until I see if I can get the breaks. But if you don't try, you never know."