Telephone company Digicel yesterday said that it welcomes the government’s plan to break GT&T’s monopoly on the international gateway and promised lower rates on international calls once the requisite legislative changes are enforced.
“Our intention once competition is introduced is to offer rates that are significantly lower than what they are today, renew focus on remote communities and also… [provide] newer technologies and services,” Digicel CEO Gregory Dean said in a press release.
The government on Thursday sent two pieces of legislation aimed at liberalizing the country’s telecommunications sector to a special select committee, and pledged that when the bills are passed and implemented, they will lead to GT&T’s monopoly on international calls being immediately broken.
Dean said that Guyanese have been poorly served by GT&T’s monopoly. “The focus of the Government’s reform agenda must be the prompt removal of the international monopoly and this must happen without much further delay,” Dean stated. “Guyana has one of the highest international calling rates in the Caribbean,” the release said. “Digicel has committed to offering significantly reduced international calling rates, continued roll out of services to unserved areas and further investments in new products and services to Guyanese consumers as soon as this archaic monopoly is removed,” the release said.
Prime Minister Sam Hinds, during the debate on the bill on Thursday, said that the government feels that opening the international gateway would bring new possibilities. “We believe that as both GT&T and Digicel have thrived with an open competitive mobile cellular system all the participants in an open international connectivity system will also be able to thrive,” Hinds said. GT&T and its supporters, Hinds said, feel that they should not be looking to open the international services from the commencement date. Hinds opined, however, that the failure to open the international connection was probably one of the bigger constraints on the telecommunications sector and on economic flow and activity.