Digicel announces up to 88% reduction on international rates
-GT&T says appealing judge's ruling, stay granted
In a sign of the ground-breaking nature of a recent court ruling which said that the GT&T monopoly was unlawful, Digicel this afternoon announced that international calling rates will be slashed by up to 88%.
While Digicel did not say today that it is operating its own international gateway, it would appear that this would be the case to facilitate the scale of the reduction it has announced. Digicel had previously operated its own international gateway for a brief time.
The Digicel release follows:
“Following the High Court’s ruling on GT&T’s monopoly last Friday, Digicel Guyana today announced up to eighty-eight percent reduction on international calling rates beginning at 18:00 hrs on Tuesday.
“Digicel Chief Executive Officer, Gregory Dean, says `Digicel is elated to finally provide Guyanese consumers with fair international calling rates after decades of exploitation by GT&T.’
“’Digicel has been operating under a monopoly held by GT&T for the past five years and we are happy that customers will now be able to reap the benefits of a fully liberalised telecommunications sector. Reducing international callings rates is just the beginning; we have extensive plans for further growth of Guyana’s telecoms industry. Customers will soon be able to enjoy other fantastic offers on international calls,’ he said.”
“On Monday Digicel alluded to the decision of Justice Rishi Persaud of the Commercial Division of the High Court in which he ruled that the monopoly held by GT&T to provide telecommunications service or to regulate voice and data transmission over the internet is unlawful and void.
“Calls to the Caribbean, USA, and Canada are now reduced by up to 62%, while China and Brazil will see reductions by over 80%. A complete list of new call rates for destinations worldwide will be printed in Wednesday’s newspapers.
“GT&T has claimed a monopoly on international calls since 1990, forcing Digicel to route international calls through GT&T’s network. Following the expiration of the international monopoly in Antigua last month, Guyana remained the last country in the Caribbean region to allow an international monopoly to persist. The High Court of Guyana’s ruling on Friday has now conclusively determined that this monopoly is unlawful and invalid.”
The finding was made in a case where a GT&T DSL subscriber had taken GT&T to court for cutting him off because he was using Voice Over Internet Protocol technology to make phone calls. The judge found that GT&T had no jurisdiction over internet calling and agreed with the plaintiff’s submission that the GT&T monopoly was unlawful.
GT&T today responded to the July 20 ruling by issuing the following statement:
“We are advised that the Commercial court ruling by Justice Persaud is in clear violation of our lawful rights under the Telecommunications Act of 1990 and other Guyana laws. The Commercial court has already stayed its ruling, and therefore enforcement of the judgment has been suspended. Today we submitted our appeal of the decision and remain entirely confident that the decision will be overturned by the Court of Appeal.”
“We are further concerned that attempts to develop telecommunications policy through piecemeal court decisions are harmful to both consumers and the country. GT&T has long made it clear that we support an open and competitive telecommunications landscape. We stand ready to negotiate a thoughtful, comprehensive policy that both protects consumers and promotes further investment by GT&T in Guyana’s telecoms sector.”
It is unclear what impact the GT&T action will have on Digicel’s cutting of rates.