Akron company DatZap prevails in trade dispute

AKRON, Ohio - On a hilltop in south Akron sits nearly $4 million in advanced communications equipment. The array of satellite dishes are outside the headquarters of VSAT Systems. VSAT is a leader in wholesale satellite internet, telephone and data services.

"This technology is right here in Akron, Ohio," said company founder Don Jacobs, standing amidst the satellite farm.

Jacobs was smiling proudly as he recently talked to NewsChannel5 about his nearly 10-year-old company -- and the good news he had just received.

"The President of Costa Rica is finally stepping up to the plate and is going to sign an executive decree," said Jacobs.

Jacobs was referring to recent developments in the Central American nation where VSAT's subsidiary, DatZap, will now be permitted to compete against the traditional government monopoly.

Jacob's companies provide high-end digital communications solutions to businesses and organizations and serve North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

According to Jacobs and VSAT President Mike Kister, DatZap has wanted to do business in Costa Rica for four years under the terms of the Central American Free Trade Agreement. But frustrating bureaucratic delays in Costa Rica have thus far thwarted their intentions.

"A cynical person would say that this was done intentionally, to protect their local provider, their incumbent provider," said Kister. "We've really been beating our head against the wall -- but it looks like we're finally breaking through."

The presidential order will grant DatZap a concession to begin operations immediately and the company expects to be signing up clients within days.

Costa Rica and other Central American countries are an attractive market for satellite communications providers because of their rural nature and lack of traditional wired infrastructure.

"It's going to be an emerging market for us," Kister said. "If things go well, we could double the size of our company just in servicing Costa Rica."

Jacobs said VSAT currently employs over 30 people at its Akron headquarters and expects to start adding staff as soon as Costa Rican customers come online.

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