Telecommunications and Technology Provider, Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT), is currently advocating for an increase in landline rates, as they’ve applied to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for “Approval of a Tariff Regime for Access and Landline Metered Charges”.
The application, dated October 1, last, was made on the premise of “rebalancing prices of telecommunications services” in anticipation of the liberalization of the telecommunications industry.
The company claims that the new tariffs and rates on their landline service are necessary to bring prices for different services in line with the cost of providing those services.
The company is proposing an increase of $50 on Access for its services because “there is a great gap between the price (tariffed rate) and the cost to providing said service.”
GTT’s application states that, even though a tariff review was granted last year, that was due to the fact that there was an increase in local rates and a decrease in international rates, making the rate of return experienced by GTT minimal. As such, it posits that GTT’s rates must align with underlying service costs “prior to the formalized introduction of competition”. The application clarifies that this is a service that must requires the consumer to be “opted-in”.
The adjustment, the application states, provides 10 free minutes of call service to calls within the network and five minutes to calls outside of the network, including voicemail service. All additional minutes on these calls would cost two times the rate on calls within the network and outside of the network. The company intends to raise the current rates of $0.80 and $0.40 off peak to $1.25 and $0.75 off peak.
The company intends to offer the following residential bundles to its consumers:
1) “All inclusive” (within and outside the network service), including the access charge “for $6,500 per month as well as call forwarding, voicemail and call waiting charges
2) “Intra calls” (within the network) with 100 minutes of “inter calls” (outside network) for $2,750 per month, as well as a voicemail charge. This charge does not include the access fee, which the customer must also incur as a separate expense.
3) “intra calls only” (within network) for $650 per month, as well as a voicemail charge. This charge does not include the access fee, which the customer must also incur as a separate expense.
4) “friends and family calling bundle for five persons unlimited for $1,850”, as well as a voicemail charges. This charge does not include the access fee, which the customer must also incur as a separate expense.
Customer Type Service Description Old Charge (GY$) New Charge (GY$)
Intra – Exchange 1-2 lines 750.00 800.00 with an increment of 50.00 to be added 6 months after implementation
Residential Greater than 2 lines 1,500.00 1,600.00 with an increment of 50.00 to be added 6 months after implementation
Business 1-4 Lines 2,250.00 2,500.00
Business Greater than 4 lines 4,500.00 No rate adjustment being requested of the PUC
Table showing increased access charges proposed by GT&T
President of the Guyana Consumer’s Association, Pat Dial, said that the GCA rejects the proposal made by GT&T to have these new charges implemented. He urged the PUC to consider the application as invalid, at a hearing held on this application by the PUC at Roraima Duke Lodge, yesterday.
Dial said the application conveniently omits the fact that the telecommunications giant holds a monopoly on these services, which has given it the opportunity to profit widely from the lack of competition.
He referred to when Digicel had just entered the Guyanese market to provide cellular services, stating that the company had offered its services at about half the rate GTT was charging, and still made considerable profits.
He further stated that it is nonsensical to apply for an increase in consumer rates and claim that it was considered in the best interests of the consumer, as GTT’s application had implied.
Advisor to Dial, Yog Mahadeo, told the commission at the hearing that there needs to be an assessment of the value of the service that GT&T intends to provide, and of the usefulness of that service to consumers.
He recommended that an independent valuation be done on the services. He said that the costs provided in the application for the services provided by GTT are not properly disaggregated, which renders the consumers to certain rate increases on services they may not need. He further posited that increases should not be allocated without being aware of the revenue that the costs will bring.
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