Sep 24, 2011 Editorial
Guyana with its population of just over 700,000 scattered over the 93,000 square miles is in a race to catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to information technology. In this day and age people want almost instant communication. No longer do they write letters and depend on the post office to get the information to whoever the recipient is.
The entire letter-writing process took time, then but because there was nothing else to do people waited. A mail was an eagerly anticipated thing. Businesses posted invoices and had to await their return. In short communication was pedantic. That was the order of the day so no one expressed any concern.
Today communication is almost instantaneous. Computers and the telephone have narrowed the world to the extent that it is as if the recipient of any message is next door; and he or she might very well be, for all practical purposes.
The problem comes when the people delivering the new and improved service are accused of being complacent; of not expanding to cope with international standards and at the same time charging people what could be too high a price. Such is the case of monopolies.
In Guyana, the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph company holds the landline monopoly and the monopoly for what is called Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). The other aspects of telecommunication are pretty much open season. And where there is open season there is competition. This is what Digicel proclaimed and demonstrated. It entered the digital market dominated by mobile phones and saw the price of calls drop significantly. It then argued that the same would be the case with international calls.
On Thursday, the government backed away from a piece of legislation that would have shattered the VOIP. This would have enabled Digicel to enter the international calls market. It would have also allowed other protocols such as landline telephone service if the newer company had so decided.
It now seems that there is a lot to the decision to cancel introducing the legislation. At present internet cafes abound. These operate at the expense of GT&T which then claims that it is being robbed of millions of dollars. The internet cafes offer international calls to North American destinations for as little as five Guyana dollars per minute. The legitimate rate is $20 per minute.
When one considers that international calls were as high as $110 per minute then consumers should have been happy with the drastic reduction. The internet cafes with little or no overhead costs are however making such calls cheaper still. They are therefore doing what Digicel claims that it would do—introduce cheap international calls.
But the proliferation of the internet cafes means a loss of revenue for the government. It does not collect taxes for them. The more the people use them the less GT&T collects and the less it pays to Government.
Yet the question surrounding the refusal of the government remains unanswered. Former Minister Gail Teixeira claims that the government is in receipt of some comment or statement that has forced it to back off until it has studied the comments or statements. GT&T had promised to go to the courts if the government had insisted on terminating the monopoly which still has another decade.
Further, the United States, some years ago, had said that it will not allow American companies to be nationalized. He sanction would have been far-reaching.
Perhaps the Americans would have caused a ban on trade with Guyana and perhaps other serious penalties. Perhaps this was the threat that caused the government to back off. Surely the government had to be aware of the implications when it moved to scrap the monopoly. President Bharrat Jagdeo is on record as saying that he would break the monopoly.
The telephone company, at one time, did announce that it was prepared to surrender its monopoly. However the telephone company decided that there were some things that it wanted in return. A government like Guyana’s would not have enjoyed being held to ransom. Neither would it have enjoyed being asked to bargain. The result was the move to pass a piece of legislation which it has now dropped.
And President Jagdeo would not be able to keep his promise of dismantling the monopoly.
Oct 28, 2021Kaieteur News – Gary Ragnauth hit an attractive 64 to spur Caribbean Sports Club to comfortable 30-run win over Sunrisers last Sunday at Cullen Beach where action continued in the inaugural...
Kaieteur News -I thought that David Granger was strategising by not announcing his candidacy then doing it at the last moment.... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – It is nothing short of shocking to learn that, despite the fact that the world... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]