Micronesian Telecommunications Corporation (MTC) was purchased from Kentron International by GTE in 1981. At that time, local service was provided on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. A 14-mile microwave radio link connected Saipan and Tinian only. The local investment consisted of aerial cable and electromechanical switches. The system was noisy, had limited capabilities, and was very susceptible to outages during typhoons.
It was usually easier to drive to a business or friend's location than it was to call the 500 customers subscribing to telephone service. All off-island calls were handled manually by operators. But it sometimes took several minutes just to get a dial tone. The operator often had to wait for an available overseas circuit, then call back to make the connection.
To improve the reliability and clarity of connections, MTC began engineering a new system in 1981. This also enabled MTC to offer modern telephone services such as call waiting and call forwarding.
By early 1986, there were 2,000 local telephone subscribers throughout the CNMI, and telephone numbers grew to seven digits from the original four digits. MTC's work force totaled 53 employees. Phone cables on Tinian, Saipan, and Rota were buried underground to protect them from the weather. The main switches were set up to operate independently so that each island's telephone system remains fully operational even if links between the other islands are interrupted. Microwave towers with the ability to withstand winds up to 150 miles per hour linked all three islands with Guam, and direct dial long distance service was offered via satellite.
Since 1986, MTC has expanded and modernized its switching centers (central offices) and cable systems on all islands, enhancing the telephone network. In 1990, MTC doubled the inter-island microwave radio capacity to handle the growing volume of calls between Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. Digital satellite service was introduced to improve call clarity and provide high-speed data capabilities.
In 1991, MTC introduced cellular service for the island of Saipan. In 1992, international 800 service was initiated. In 1993, MTC converted to Equal Access for international long-distance calling.
Another landmark was achieved in 1997 with the completion of the first undersea fiber optic cable to link the main islands of the Northern Marianas to the Trans-Pacific cable hub in Guam. The new cable replaced the overloaded inter-island microwave system. The $14-million project tied CNMI callers into the global fiber network and opened up new possibilities for advanced services that work best with fiber technology, such as distance learning, telemedicine, video conferencing, and high-speed Internet access.
Also in 1997, Micronesian Tel established a subsidiary corporation, GTE Pacifica, to sell long distance services and all deregulated products and services (primarily business phone systems, Internet access, and cellular service). GTE Pacifica began operations first on Guam, and subsequently in the CNMI by the beginning of 1998.
In early 2000, MTC had over 22,000 lines in service in the CNMI. MTC customers enjoyed a 100% digital switching system and a full range of modern telecommunications services in addition to local, inter-island, and long-distance calling. These include digital cellular services, prepaid phone cards, long distance, Internet, state of the art business telephone systems and equipment, telecommunications relay service, custom calling features, voice mail, data communications, and CentraNet® Services.
Also in 2000, MTC began doing business as Verizon Micronesia and Verizon Pacifica. Under Verizon, the company introduced its state of the art CDMA Cellular network, DSL and other business and residential solutions.
On September 20, 2005, MTC was bought by Prospector Holdings of the Philippines based Delgado family. Prospector Holdings chose to retain the name Micronesian Telecommunications Corporation but the business in the CNMI & Guam used the name PTI.
In 2006, a partnership with Sumitomo Corporation one of Japan’s largest corporations invested in PTI as a long term strategic partner. Under PTI, the Company completed the installation of our Microwave System from Saipan – Tinian – Rota, which provided an alternate route for our traffic in the event the undersea fiber optic is damaged.
PTI offered CDMA cellular roaming to the U.S., Guam, and the Philippines while cellular subscribers from US, Japan and South Korea were able to roam in the CNMI. In 2007, PTI installed a GSM Network and continued working on roaming agreements for our GSM Network. Also in 2007, PTI acquired Yellow Pages Ink, a telephone directory service which covers the CNMI and Guam.
In 2008, PTI drastically increased its stock in the region after completing the purchase of IT&E Overseas, Inc.’s selected telecommunication assets and the IT&E brand name.
Since its inception in 1979, IT&E Overseas had built a legacy as a local pioneer and innovator of Long Distance, Internet, Wireless Voice/Data services and Business Solutions offering its Guam subscriber base world-class services for nearly thirty years.
The company continued to operate as IT&E on Guam as all subscribers were switched over to PTI’s operating frequency without any changes to their plans, rates and service charges.
The move was just the tip of the iceberg, as PTI immediately implemented the first step in the $10 million investment into IT&E's infrastructure aimed at bringing the latest technology and exciting services to the residents of Guam.
The upgrades that followed included a complete upgrade of the CDMA wireless platform in Guam, an expansion of the GSM platform in Guam, and the completion of a redundant microwave backbone throughout the Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan.
The purchase also made PTI the largest telecommunications company in the Marianas with over 75,000 total subscribers on four islands.
The march of progress continued in 2008 when Hawaiian Telcom customers chose PTI to provide directory assistance its customers. Hawaiian Telcom selected PTI after searching for a company with an established track record of quality service, the ability to minimize customer service impacts during transition, the ability to provide additional directory services, and the willingness to commit to stringent quality standards.
In order to provide Hawaiian Telcom's customers world-class quality customer service, PTI opened a locally-staffed 20-seat call center on Saipan to answer the needs of the additional flow of communications to and from the Marianas.
In August, PTI became the first company in Micronesia to launch an EV-DO high-speed mobile broadband network. IT&E and PTI were the first to offer the fastest next generation mobile broadband network serving Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Rota.
With speeds of up to 10 times faster than the standard 1XRTT wireless data network, EV-DO gave our customers the ability to access email, photos, spreadsheets and other large files via their phone or laptop at unprecedented speeds.
In October, IT&E unveiled its new logo and tagline to government, business and community leaders in Guam while showcasing the power of its upcoming EV-DO network.
The main color of the IT&E logo remained blue to symbolize the company's continued commitment to the local Guam community, and IT&E's new tagline, "Life in Motion" was chosen because of the constant change in technology that allows people to do more than ever away from home.
PTI continued to strengthen its products by offering more features and savings for an individual or family with a Push-to-Talk wireless plan for residential subscribers in Tinian, Rota and Guam in October.
In January 2009, CNMI residents woke up to a new era in telecommunications when PTI unified its Guam and CNMI brands under the IT&E brand. For nearly 30 years, the IT&E brand stood as a testament to the local entrepreneurial spirit.
With so much value in the IT&E brand that was instrumental in bringing affordable and reliable communications to the region, the company opted to continue with PTI’s progressive spirit under the new look IT&E brand.
PTI did not disappear, however, as the Yellow Pages Ink directory business remained under the PTI brand, while PTI continued to dominate the prepaid long distance card market.
IT&E’s influence over Yellow Pages Ink helped create Casa Guam and Motions magazines. Casa Guam is Guam’s premier real estate magazine with the goal of bringing buyers and sellers together while Motions serves the community as the premium lifestyle magazine for Guam and the CNMI.
After nearly two years of planning, the FCC granted the transfer of domestic and international section 214, wireless, earth station and microwave licenses from IT&E Overseas Inc. to PTI Pacifica Inc., d/b/a IT&E in May.
Both PTI and IT&E became better companies than they were a year ago and emerged with a very bright future with exciting opportunities ahead.
With the final licenses transferred, the IT&E look became complete with new long distance and wireless prepaid cards and the company's website.
Despite unprecedented economic conditions worldwide, IT&E’s cemented its position as the largest telecommunications company in the Marianas when it rolls increased to over 80,000 total subscribers on Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Guam.
New products and services fueled the increase, as did the launch of BlackBerry in the Marianas. IT&E’s BlackBerry service ushered in a new chapter of communication for the Marianas, as customers were able to make use of their BlackBerry smartphones on the region’s only high-speed EV-DO network.
May was a landmark month for our company as IT&E became the first company in the history of the Marianas to offer Global Roaming. After several months of negotiations with carriers around the world, IT&E now offers our customers the ability to roam to over 230 countries with their current CDMA phone number.
Through all the changes in ownership, we are still Micronesian Telecommunications Corporation, the leading telecommunications company in Micronesia.
The future is bright as IT&E continuously looks to expand throughout the Pacific and beyond.