The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) has asked the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to review its recent order handed down on July 24, 2017, relating to an increase in landline rates.
This became known yesterday through a notice published by the PUC in this newspaper inviting persons to attend a public hearing on the matter. According to the notice, the hearing will be held on Thursday, September 7, 2017, beginning at 10:30hrs in the PUC’s Conference Room.
This review is based on two conditions that the company was asked to satisfy if it is to apply the new landline rates that were to take effect on August 1, 2017.
The first condition being contended is the PUC’s request that GTT submit a quarterly detailed appraisal of progress, showing the number of new services rolled out, inclusive of rural areas. The Order said that this should not be less than 1000 lines per quarter and may include up to 25 per cent of re-issued lines.
The PUC had noted in its Order that statistics from GTT informs that there are over 19,000 outstanding applications for land lines, which was described as an unacceptable position.
Secondly, the PUC highlighted that GTT has been tardy in its response time and remedial action with respect to fault reporting. As a result, the second condition required GTT to submit a quarterly report from the date the rates take effect, showing details of the average time taken to resolve consumers’ complaints – residential and business.
Further, the letter written by GTT and signed by its Chief Executive Officer, Justin Nedd requesting the review, was provided on the PUC’s website. The letter is dated August 22, 2017, and addressed to Chairwoman of the PUC, Dela Britton.
In the letter, GTT said that it would like the opportunity to clarify the two aforementioned points in order to manage the PUC’s expectations regarding the company’s ability to comply with the terms of the order.
The correspondence said that GTT intends to use the forum to articulate its position with evidence to support its position.
As it relates to the installation of 1000 lines per quarter, the letter stated that the PUC had relied on a letter dated June 16, 2016 from its former Director of Customer Services, Pamela Briggs.
“In that letter, she made reference to numbers that were generated from a defunct system that was used to capture records of landline applications. The records include aged service applications. The figure overstates the actual demand because the database she relied on has not been cleared or reviewed.”
According to the company, the figure of over 19,000 outstanding applications is an overstatement. The telecommunications giant said that many of the applicants among the 19,000 have relocated and have been served at entirely different addresses, while others would have died, migrated and lost interest in the landline service, given their reliance on mobile for both voice and data services.
GTT said that it no longer utilises the system relied on by Ms Briggs, and that GTT now operates the new Comverse system to support its record for landline applications.
“That being said, the letter that the PUC is relying on to support its position is not an accurate representation of the records of our outstanding landline applications. To that end, we implore the Commission to give us the opportunity to present a current record of pending applications in order for a more reliable and accurate estimate.”
In addition, the company said that it would like the PUC to consider specific time periods in which the company is able to address faults. The CEO said that in determining the fault times and repairs, consideration must be given to industry standards, as what can be achieved in light of the physical terrain of Guyana.
“That being said, to correct reported wire line faults within 48 hours for all of the regions throughout the country is an overly difficult standard to meet. GTT+ does not have readily available resources in remote areas of Guyana that would allow us to rectify faults within 48 hours.”
Based on this justification, GTT believes that a standard should be instituted for three distinct geographical areas. These are the urban, suburban and rural/hinterland locations.
In the urban areas, GTT said that four to five working days would be a more reasonable timeframe to respond to fault reports. Regarding suburban areas, five to seven working days was suggested. Meanwhile in the rural and hinterland areas, 15 to 30 days was recommended as being achievable, since GTT has no installation and repair personnel stationed at these locations.
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