Digicel ‘disappointed’ with telecoms sector after six years

“We remain of the opinion that liberalisation of Guyana’s telecommunications sector is long overdue. We think a timetable for negotiations with definite deadlines is necessary to finally end the monopoly,”  says Digicel’s Chief Executive Officer Gregory Dean, with what appears to be a note of greater urgency in his disposition.

Up until now Digicel has sought to put a brave face on what has been more than a year of frustration over the non realisation of legislation that will allow it a share of the lucrative overseas market for telecommunications services currently enjoyed by the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T). There is, however, no mistaking the company’s mounting frustration over what it has repeatedly said is the inexplicable delay in bringing an end to the monopoly.

Digicel’s feelings on its continued exclusion from what is in effect the lion’s share  of the country’s telecommunications market is articulated by Dean with as much restraint as he could muster. “We are highly disappointed with the status of the telecommunications sector. It has been almost six years since we entered the market and we are still awaiting full liberalisation of the sector,” he says.

It is, it seems, as much the government’s silence on the failure to take the bill to the National Assembly as the long delay in the expected passage of the legislation that irks Digicel. Dean concedes that the company had been wrong-footed by the unfolding events in the liberalisation saga under this current administration. “We were under the impression that liberalisation of the telecommunications sector would have been a priority of the new parliament post elections and we made preparations for this. Unfortunately, this was not the case and so we are further set back,” Dean says. It is as close as Dean comes to pointing an accusing finger.

Digicel (Guyana) Chief Executive Officer Gregory Dean

While Dean has been mindful not to make pronouncements that overtly point fingers at the government for the delay in the passage of the liberalisation legislation he concedes that Digicel is both “baffled” and “highly disappointed with the status of the telecommunications sector,” since “everyone is aware of the benefits of liberalisation and has seen the tremendous gains of competition in the domestic cellular market since Digicel’s entry in 2007.” These, he says, “include 50% reduction in domestic call rates, ending of account activation fees, reduction in handset prices as well as an improvement in the quality and range of handsets available and an increase in the products and services offered.”

Dean says he fears the retention of the monopoly could “prevent current and even future investors from making long-term plans” though he says that the bigger issue is a Guyanese one. “Communications is one of the main drivers of development in any country. Access to communication and advanced technology and lower rates are only two of the benefits of a liberalised telecommunications sector. Given the population spread and economic activities throughout Guyana, communication is even more necessary.”  As for what, as far as Digicel knows, is the latest official position on liberalisation Dean confines his response to pointing out that Digicel has again been asked to comment on the legislation and that its comments had been “in line with comments from consultations held for the past two to three years.” If he knows more he isn’t saying. Nor does he, this time around, seek to conceal the fact that while the company has been marking time, its patience may be wearing thin.

Dean believes that after five years Digicel has more than earned the right to a level playing field in the local telecommunications sector. Given what Dean says has been Digicel’s commitment to Guyana he declares that the company is “highly disappointed” with the status of the telecommunications sector.

Latest in Business

Guyana Metal Recyclers Association President Michael Benjamin

Metal exporters want urgent presidential intervention

– business ministry working on new procedures Piqued over what it says has been the suspension—without either notice or official notification—of the scrap metal trade by the APNU+AFC administration since June last year, the Guyana Metal Recyclers Association (GMRA) the official umbrella body for local exporters has told the Stabroek Business that the protracted inability of businesses to ply their trade is wreaking havoc with the industry and denying legitimate businessmen the right to earn a living.

The Far Rockaway Hotel

Kwakwani $$$M hotel investment seeks to breathe new life into community

Gavin August may well be unique in the extent of his financial investment in Kwakwani: an estimated $50 million to create a 12-room hotel, which he hopes will pay him back down the road, when the fortunes of the community change.

default placeholder

Does crowdfunding have the power to grow Caribbean economies? (Part 2)

By A Cecile Watson   A Cecile Watson is the founder of pitchandchoose.com. She is a former senior regional banker, an international speaker, a certified financial education instructor and the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Ambassador Regional Leader for the Caribbean.

20160624gold prices June24

Kitco Market

Gold Prices for the three day period ending Thursday  June 23, 2016Kitco is a Canadian company that buys and sells precious metals such as gold, copper and silver.

IDB Chief Economist Jose Juan Ruiz

Caribbean facing savings crisis – IDB

A new study released earlier this month by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has put countries in Latin America and the Caribbean on notice that they are confronted with a savings crisis that might do damage to their economies in the years ahead.


Prices Prepared by the Guyana Marketing Corporation

(Prepared by the Guyana Marketing Corporation and published by Stabroek Business as a public service)*Prices only represent the average Wholesale Farmgate and Retail Prices at the above mentioned markets and are NOT prices set by the Guyana Marketing Corporation or Ministry of Agriculture.

Aunty Picky

Placing a premium on education: Annandale businesses support growth of secondary school

As the story goes, the name Annandale is said to honour the two daughters of the proprietor of the tract of land to which the name was given.

Talks underway: The respective delegations from the Guyana Public Service Union and the Government of Guyana face each other on Wednesday at the start of what could be the country’s most important industrial relations encounter since the Armstrong Arbitration Commission.

GPSU, gov’t pay hike talks opening ‘a transformational moment’ – Yarde

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) is treating the current public service wages and salaries negotiations with the Government of Guyana as “the start of a process aimed at bettering the lot of public servants in a manner that goes way beyond the monetary benefits which we expect will derive from the process,” its President Patrick Yarde has said.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: