“When one compares the ongoing multi-billion US-dollar auction for six blocks of airwaves against the manner in
which ours were gifted away by the former President, Bharrat Jagdeo to his loyal minions, it clearly exposes corruption at its most sickening form.”
This was the assertion of Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, yesterday as he spoke on the “obsessive control over Guyana’s airwaves” by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
According to the New York Times online news, a government auction of airwaves for use in mobile broadband has become the biggest auction in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s history. The FCC collected bids of more than US$34B as of Friday afternoon for six blocks of airwaves, totaling 65 megahertz of the electromagnetic spectrum.
That total is more than three times the US$10.5B reserve price that the FCC, as the US regulators, put on sale.
US authorities are now expecting prices for these precious assets, which are limited, to rise further, because the auction has no definite end and could continue for days or weeks.
The spectrum is so expensive that a group representing broadcast television stations is considering giving up theirs for sale in the FCC’s next auction, scheduled for 2016.
The success of the auction has been fuelled largely by the pent-up demand for years without an auction and which coincided with the explosive popularity of smart phones and mobile broadband.
AFC Leader Ramjattan said that it clearly exposes the Guyana government’s “devilish ways”. He pointed to the fact that it gave away radio frequencies to “its cronies and friends.”
He opined that the US auction is of great significance for Guyana, since it highlights how valuable the airwaves are considered for some countries, while Guyana gives the spectrum away to friends and family.
“Radio frequencies are extremely important. They serve as a medium for not just getting the message of the body politic
to the regional platform, but also to the international stage. These are extremely valuable assets and the fact that Jagdeo gave away these frequencies to his family, friends and cronies represents the dirtiest corruption scandal of our time.
“This important form of communication is being stolen and given away for nothing at all. And the nation will give the PPP a good thrashing for this. Simply put, the PPP is F-ing up the country. And let me put the F-ing up into context. When I say that, I mean that they are literally messing up this country and stealing the wealth for Friends, Family and Favourites. It’s not PPP anymore. It is FFF…” Ramjattan stated emphatically.
He said that there is big money to be made from the telecommunications sector and those who acquire it can either use it to promote democracy or pollute the environment with “dictatorial notions.”
The issue of the airwaves became a burning issue following an announcement by Government in late 2011 that former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, doled out several frequencies before he was due to step down in November of that year.
The radio frequencies went to his best friend, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, the ruling party, and to an overseas-based sister of sitting Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud. These three were given multiple frequencies allowing them countrywide coverage.
Others were granted single frequencies, giving them limited range in their transmissions.
It will also be recalled that frequencies were given by Jagdeo to E-Networks and Quark Communications Inc., two companies with which he has close links, to go-ahead to run cable TV services.
Quark, E-Networks and Global Technology’s iNet Communications are now standing at the head of the line for telecommunications licences that will be automatically granted to them once new laws before the National Assembly are passed.
These licences and the frequencies will also allow the companies to offer telephone services, mobile services, internet and a host of other high demand services.
One can only presume that the value of the frequencies Guyana has already given away as against what it could have received.
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