PUC sanctions new interconnection rate for GT&T, Digicel
A sanctioned agreement by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) between Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Ltd (GT&T) and Digicel came to an end today.
The PUC yesterday said that after holding a public hearing into this matter, it agreed to all rates as submitted in the application by GT&T, except the retail landline fixed to mobile rate. After intense deliberation the agreed rate is $12 a minute, despite representations made by both companies that the agreed rate should be $17 a minute.
The Commission’s order is dated December 28, 2010 and made effective on January 1, 2011. The approved rates are granted for four months and shall be reviewed on application by either party on or before April 30, 2011.
However, based on an application by the GT&T for an integrated package of interconnection and related rates, the Public Utilities Commission has issued Order 3 of 2010. This Order is binding on both GT&T and U-Mobile (Cellular) Inc, trading as Digicel.
The PUC disclosed that both telecommunication companies had been operating under an interconnection agreement for a number of years and notice was given by the company Digicel to GT&T, to terminate the then existing agreement.
The commission said that in the interim period after the notice was given by Digicel, the companies failed to agree to a new interconnection agreement. As a consequence, the company Digicel has not been paying for services received from the company GT&T but in the interest of the consumers, GT&T continued to offer the services pending the new agreement.
The Commission in the public interest and in the interest of both companies initiated a public hearing in March 2010, with a view to establishing an interconnection agreement between the parties.
Throughout the hearing, the Commission has been suggesting to the parties that they engage in bilateral negotiations, in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement.
However, in November 2010, the company GT&T made an application to the Commission indicating that the parties have reached an agreement in principle on an ‘integrated package of interconnection rates and related issues but have not finalized all the terms and conditions of a full-fledged interconnection agreement.’
The company requested that the Commission approve the said integrated package.
The Commission notes that both companies were forced to make compromises in order to arrive at a common ground with respect to a new interconnection rate schedule after intense and lengthy negotiations.
Both parties have committed to enter into settlement after an approved agreement with respect to outstanding monies due to each other for the period when the interconnection agreement lapsed.
The integrated package application included interconnection rates for mobile termination rates, the fixed termination rates and the fixed network transit rates.