The Fixed Wireless Access system has developed problems but a solution is at hand

Dear Editor,

I live at La Grange and the residents of the community have received telephone service for some time. This was done after much deliberation and the hard work of residents who formed a committee and approached Ms. Sunita Jagan.

The distribution process, was never completed. Those residents who did not get telephones in the area still do not have telephones and despite repeated efforts, their cries go unheard.

The type of telephones distributed to the La Grange Community matches those that were distributed in Essequibo. These Dish-like telephones were set up and to some extent maintained by GT&T.

However, since this ancient telephone system is not manufactured any more, the residents of LaGrange, and those of Essequibo will soon find themselves in a serious quandary, since GT&T cannot find the requisite spares to continue the maintenance of these telephones.

My questions are to the GT&T officials, why did you set up this type of system when you knew there will be no spares to maintain the telephones? If this was intended to be a temporary set-up, why isn’t the company taking provisional methods to meet the needs of the masses where telephones are concerned? Why can’t normal telephone lines be installed so that residents can gain access to what has now become a necessity in our society?

I have been asking the GT&T office, both at Brickdam and Church Street, to take a look at my telephone service in La Grange for the longest while and the only answer I get from GT& T is that they have not acquired the spares to fix my telephone. Might I add that since the antenna system accommodates two lines, one would automatically think my neighbour’s telephone would be out of service, however, this is not the case. I am left at a loss to comprehend this situation since no one at GT&T can explain to me what is really taking place with the telephone.

I have made more than eight reports and have visited the office more than five times to have this problem rectified. Meanwhile, the rental for the telephone keeps coming followed by a disconnection letter if the rental is not paid. Where do we go from here GT&T?

Yours faithfully,

Jagdish P. Sukhu

Editor’s note

We sent a copy of this letter to GT&T for any comments they may wish to make and received the following response from their Public Relations Officer, Ms Allison Parker:

“GT&T is aware of the concerns of Mr Sukhu, and the Company has publicly discussed the problems associated with the Fixed Wireless Access (“dish-like”) system, indicated how those problems developed and explained the arrangements being made to provide an improved service to La Grange and other areas utilizing the system.

GT&T introduced FWA in 1996 to those un-served areas because the wireless system allowed for faster deployment of service and covered a wider area than the traditional wire line exchange.

Over the years, erratic power supply affected the functioning of the system and increased the demand for repairs and maintenance. We could not have anticipated the discontinuation of this system and it became increasingly difficult for repairs to be effected.

With the unavailability of an adequate quantity of spares, GT&T made the conscious decision to cease the installation of new services and to reserve the spares for those already in service.

In circumstances where service is affected, the customer would normally continue to receive the monthly bill for rental, but the amounts paid will be credited to him whenever service is restored. In Mr. Sukhu’s case, arrangements have been made to suspend payment.

Unfortunately, Mr. Sukhu’s line is one which remains affected by the absence of spares.

Recognizing the problem and the inconvenience to its customers the Company sought alternative solutions. After much discussion and consultation with various wireless technology manufacturers, we determined that Airspan’s Wireless Local Loop (WLL) was the reliable and state of the art technology required. The system was acquired at a cost of US$4.5M dollars.

Customers would appreciate that WLL supply not only voice telephone service, but has the potential to provide improved access to internet/data services and allows for the easy provision of a second line to individual customers. As we indicated earlier, wireless technology does serve a geographically wide area.

A team of senor technical and non-technical staff from the Company recently met with the Regional Executives in Region 2, the Essequibo Chamber and residents on the Essequibo Coast to discuss details of the impending deployment and to demonstrate the workings of this new service.

Customers in that area are currently signing on for the new Wireless Local Loop (WLL) system and installation will commence during this month.

At the completion of the Essequibo Coast project the Company will then move to install the service to the several other areas currently served by the Fixed Wireless Access system.”

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