E-Governance project manager mum on excess bandwidth use by cable providers

E-Governance Project Manager Alexei Ramotar is refusing to comment on whether the country’s US$32 million fibre-optic cable, being laid from Brazil, would be used to help commercial entities, such as triple-play providers of broadband internet, cable television and telephone.

“I have no comment on that…When I spoke the last time the newspapers carried something else and Guyana Telephone and Telegraph got pissed off,” Ramotar said, when approached yesterday for a comment.

Government has said it has not decided whether private business enterprises will be able to tap into huge excess of bandwidth from the fibre-optic cable, though it is clear that cable companies could benefit from this resource.

Speculation has been rife that the cable could go towards boosting the capacity of entities, such as those operated by Brian Yong and Vishok Persaud, seen by industry actors as favoured by the administration in the allocation of cable frequencies. No other cable operator has the capacity on par with what has been allocated to Yong and Persaud—2.5 GHz band frequencies—prompting concerns over the fairness of the distributions. According to Wimax.com, the 2.5 GHz range is among the most sought after spectrum since it is very effective for the delivery of point to multi point signal to many users. The site said the 2.5 GHz spectrum range supports robust bandwidth capability.

Asked at a recent press conference whether the project will see private individuals being able to purchase bandwidth, Ramotar said that government has no plans to go in this direction. But he did acknowledge that there would be excess bandwidth. At the very press conference, Government Press Officer Kwame McCoy said that while there could be commercial opportunities, government has not yet taken a position with regards to this.

Ramotar, in an earlier interview with Stabroek News, explained that the fibre optic project is part of a larger one aimed at developing the ICT structure in Guyana. He said that before this project was conceptualised, every IT company that wanted to operate in Guyana had to invest in its own infrastructure, which could turn out to be a very expensive proposition.

Ramotar said that the project will bring to Guyana huge amounts of bandwidth using modern fibre optics. “It will allow a lot of information to flow. It will make it more attractive for investors coming to Guyana,” he said in March.

Yong and Persaud were granted licences while broadcast pioneer Anthony Vieira was snubbed even though his proposal entailed revenue to the city of Georgetown.

Prior to the granting of the licences by former President Bharrat Jagdeo, both Yong and Persaud were connected in different ways to the campaign to have him re-elected to a third term. Yong had been linked to a group supporting Jagdeo’s re-election to another term. But, in an interview with Stabroek News, he distanced himself from the effort, while giving a ringing endorsement to Jagdeo. Persaud’s father, the late Reepu Daman Persaud, had endorsed Jagdeo for a third term.

Jagdeo, in meetings with cable operators in 2007 and in 2010, had admonished them about unauthorised operations. Yong and Persaud received their licence to commence operating in December 2010.

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who revealed the names of persons who would have received cable, television and radio licences over an extended period, in response to questions put to him in the National Assembly by AFC MP Cathy Hughes, said that Linden Cable Network received its permission in 2007, as had Infinity Telecommunications Inc. in Linden, Linden Cable Network, Bartica Communications Network, Carib Atlantic Cable Network in Mahaicony and E3 Communications in Corriverton.

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