Digicel, GT&T and the Olympics
I read your article (SN July 24, 2012) captioned, “Digicel announces up to 88 percent reduction on international rates –GT&T says appealing judge’s ruling, stay granted,” and thought this was a good opportunity to link this situation with the Olympics, the usefulness of effective oversight by a vibrant Utilities Commission, and the benefits consumers enjoy from competition.
Without fair, transparent and accountable competition, there can be no celebration of excellence. The Olympics is one such experience which encapsulates excellence and we wait at least four years to see what the world’s best have done for extending the reach of the human spirit.
Competition not only brings to the fore the fastest and the best in the Olympics; but competition extends to other areas of life, including how we organize business to ensure efficiency and to satisfy the choices of consumers. Consumers of the Olympics satisfy their choices by the various events they watch and when not satisfied they switch to other events. Consumers of goods and services make the same choice by switching to other goods and services and they support their preference by choosing to pay for those goods and services they prefer. In contrast, business owners have to either adjust to the demands of consumers or they go out of business or they switch to something else. GT& T has the choice to compete on price by cutting their price or doing something else. In contrast, Digicel should go to the Utilities Commission with their positive story of cutting rates, given that the oversight function is the first level of control and not the Courts of Guyana.
In the absence of competition we have a monopoly which implies no choice for consumers, with the result that there is no need for excellence, but poor standards and higher prices as inefficiency is pervasive. In other words, the monopolist is supreme and the consumer is crushed. How to correct for this deformity? We break the monopoly and encourage competition by extending the choice of consumers. For example, we encourage private and public schools; we encourage private and public hospitals; more than one international airline; more than one local airline; more than one private and public radio and TV station in any location (Linden). Like the International Olympic Committee that manages and ensures competition, we need effective Public Utilities and Broadcast Commissions that are staffed with professionally trained experts with no conflicts of interest.
While I agree with the GT&T statement that the development of telecommunication policy should not be accomplished through piecemeal court decisions (not the remit of the Court, anyway), I am disappointed that GT&T are relying on the Court of Appeal, instead of making their arguments to the Public Utilities Commission. The Courts should defer to the Utilities Commission.
C. Kenrick Hunte