Feb 13, 2020 News
A petition from more than 5,400 citizens has been sent to 11 political parties to help up pressure for the liberalisation of the telecoms sector.
The ‘LiberalisationNOW’ petition, backed by Irish-owned Digicel, a mobile service company that has been operating in Guyana for over a dozen years, would come with elections a mere three weeks away.
For more than a decade now, talk about allowing new companies to enter the telecoms sector has been in the air. The then administration of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) sold its 20 percent shared in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT), which came here in the 90s and had the monopoly on landlines and international calls.
In 2016, laws were passed to allow GTT to end the monopoly.
However, the telephone company has been asking for concessions and reportedly objecting to a US$40M-plus claim that the Guyana Revenue Authority says is owed to them.
For almost four years now, the negotiations have held up the liberalisation process.
Digicel has made it clear that Government could continue to negotiate in good faith while allowing new companies to step into the market.
In any case, a number of companies that want to get into the market are arguing that GTT’s licence and the current laws do not contemplate how internet is to be handled.
With regards to the petition, Digicel in a statement yesterday said that more than 5,400 signatures have been amassed to date.
“…the petition was today sent to all eleven political parties contesting the 2nd March national and regional elections. The Change.org petition is the latest effort in the decades-long battle to end the telecoms monopoly in Guyana and give Guyanese access to the modern communications technologies that they deserve.”
Digicel especially has been ramping it up with the US-controlled GTT to bring its own sub-sea cable for data.
Recently, it was announced that E-Networks has landed a cable with the intentions to utilise it for its Cable Television operations.
“With the people of Guyana declaring themselves tired of poor, unreliable broadband services and remote communities not being able to realise the dream of modern communications in their homes, Guyanese are fed up of limited choice and not having the benefits of true competition. Thanks to a shameful combination of poor choice of services, poor broadband coverage and poor quality services, Guyana has arguably the worst communications services in the Caribbean. And that in turn is holding the country back from the countless opportunities that access to the digital economy brings,” the statement yesterday said.
Digicel insisted that there is still no progress, since the legislation passed three years ago has not been made law.
This requires the issuance of a commencement order by the minister.
In sending the #LiberalisationNOW petition to the political parties, Gregory Dean, CEO of Digicel Guyana commented: “The people of Guyana are demanding what they rightfully deserve from our leaders. For too long, they have been denied the ability to participate fully in the global digital economy. Guyanese want and deserve better communications services and our leaders have the power to make this long overdue change happen without further delay.”
The #LiberalisationNOW petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/liberalise-guyana-s-telecom-sector-now
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