‘Unlimited, inexpensive’ bandwidth from next year – GT&T

From next year, Guyanese and overseas investors will be able to benefit from “unlimited and inexpensive” bandwidth when GT&T’s second fibre optic cable becomes operational, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of GT&T Yog Mahadeo says.

In a telephone interview, Mahadeo was asked to respond to recent statements by Geoffrey Da Silva, the Head of the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest), that GT&T’s prices for bandwidth were a deterrent to overseas investors and that these rates may have cost the country between 2,000 to 3,000 jobs.

The statements were made at an Investment Seminar held at the International Conference Centre as part of the Guy Expo Festivities, when Da Silva was responding to a question posed by an overseas participant about the availability of Information and Communication Techno-logies (ICTs) locally.

The CFO acknowledged that the current rates were high when compared with the prices in other Caribbean territories but he blamed this on the shortage in the local supply.  “Whenever there is a shortage of supply, economic theory says that the price will be affected”, he said.  Mahadeo further explained that one of the reasons for the high cost of bandwidth was that GT&T had invested in full satellite back up for voice services.

At the seminar, Da Silva had said that some firms involved in the call centre business had informed him that they were being charged US$8,000 for bandwidth services.  He said that during meetings with some of the large international call centre companies, representatives had pointed out that what is preventing them from investing in Guyana is the high cost of bandwidth.  He also noted that several call centres had ceased their operations.

When asked if the company was concerned that its high prices had reportedly deterred overseas call centres from investing locally, Mahadeo said that there are call centres operating locally and that GT&T had good working relationships with these companies.

He said that if indeed other companies had been deterred from investing in Guyana because of the high price for bandwidth, they could start setting up their businesses now since by mid-next year the price for bandwidth would be very “competitive”.

Mahadeo, however, said that it was unfortunate that the telecommunication sector was always being targeted. The CFO said that GT&T was committed to giving its best to the country.

He said that this sector depended on electricity and stated that the issue of a stable electricity supply is a serious one that would concern investors.

Da Silva said that that competition may be necessary to get the best rates and stated that there had been negotiations with French investors for them to run another fibre optic cable to the country. He was, however, unable to say how these negotiations were progressing.  Da Silva, however, said that options were being pursued.

A senior official at GT&T, who requested anonymity, told this newspaper that contrary to what many believe GT&T does not have a monopoly on bandwidth since there are other sellers of bandwidth in the country.  The official said that these persons get their bandwidth off a satellite and sell it to customers.

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