Jan 26, 2016 News
By Leonard Gildarie
The administration is facing increasing pressure to pass critical laws that will open up the telecommunications sector for new players and services.
The legislations have been in limbo for five years now moving between the National Assembly and two main players in the industry- GTT and Digicel.
In a full page advertisement in Kaieteur News on Sunday, Digicel (Guyana) said that the country “welcomes the end of the GTT phone monopoly”.
Allowing newer players will see faster mobile internet, reduced rates for overseas calls, availability of a quality landline services, higher speed home internet and modern and affordable solutions for businesses, the company promised.
The company is readying to land its own fibre-optic cable to bring internet and other data services, similar to what GTT has.
The telecommunications business is one of the biggest in the country and has been recording steady growth in recent years especially with the craze over smart phones and other streaming devices.
However, since being announced before 2012, new laws that will break the almost 25 years landline and international calls monopoly of US-owned GTT, have been pushed back time and again.
GTT had initially insisted that it has a contract with the Government of Guyana, dating back to 1991.
Any breakage to allow new players will have to see negotiations. There was the threat of legal action if attempts were made to sever the contract without negotiations.
The proposed legislations had ended up before a Parliamentary select committee but little progress was made and when the bill made its way back to be debated in the National Assembly, the previous government asked for more time as the parties involved wanted to iron out a few details.
GTT itself has said that it has no problem with new players; that it welcomed competition.
Currently, Digicel is its strongest competitor in the mobile market.
However, consumers for both Digicel and GTT have been facing several problems with the data speed offered by both companies.
This is because the legislation is still in limbo, delaying a decision to allow more spectrum that will introduce new technologies to allow phone users to even watch YouTube videos or video chat.
Yesterday, Digicel said it is eager for the market to open to allow for four-generation (4G) networks to be introduced as well as its entrance in the landline market.
There are still a significant number of landline residents in Guyana without service.
”The new Government gave a commitment to liberalize the telecoms sector and we are confident that this will be done. Unfortunately, the GTT monopoly has held the country back from growing economically for many years, restricting Guyana‘s growth in so many ways- jobs, investment, infrastructure to name a few -leading to poor services for Guyanese citizens.”
Digicel said that the proposed legislation will create competition between companies, enabling Guyanese to benefit from lower overseas calling rates, faster internet on the mobile, greater choice of services at their residence for internet and landline.
“The end of the GTT Monopoly will bring significant inward investment into the country, creating hundreds of quality jobs and allowing Guyana to compete on a level playing field with its neighbours.”
Digicel, an Irish-owned mobile company with significant presence in the region, insisted that everyone is in favor of ending the monopoly including GTT.
“…so why is the legislation not passed by now and allow all Guyanese to enjoy the same competitive services and lower prices that people in other countries enjoy across the Caribbean?”
Yesterday, Minister Cathy Hughes, who has responsibilities for the telecoms industry, said that new legislations remain a priority one for the administration.
Several companies are also on standby to enter the local market.
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