Region Nine Chairman Wilson Lorentino commended GT&T for bridging the communication gap between the remote rural area and the rest of Guyana. “Region Nine has been made richer with the installation of this service, it allows us another opportunity to be part of the information superhighway and change the way we do business. I am pleased that GT&T continues to invest millions to ensure that indigenous communities are equally considered in their national plan,” he said. Lorentino added that access to the internet will now change the way that students in the area do their research.
He then indicated that several phone booths in the area were not functioning, which was greatly affecting communication between communities asked GT&T to look into it.
GT&T CEO R K Sharma said that efficient and effective services are required to overcome high unit transaction costs and to access capital, markets and technical inputs. He added that against the backdrop of rural transformation it is hoped that the advent of the mobile phone will stimulate a revolution in rural connectivity for small scale farmers and other producers.
“GT&T considers the Linden to Lethem corridor vital to Guyana’s current and future commercial and national development interests… To this end, we have, as part of our planning strategy and capital expenditure allocations continually factored in improving voice and data communications along this region notwithstanding the high deployment costs of rural communications infrastructure,” he said.
Sharma added that the Aranaputa site which serves Annai and its environs was deployed given the recognition that the North Rupununi area was insufficiently served by the rural radio booths and that this strategic demographic area serves as a hub for North Rupununi.
Residents were also able to purchase cellular phones at a reduced cost at the site of the tower and Sharma also announced that the entire community will receive free internet service next Saturday.
Residents were in high praise for the new cell tower, but said that it was long overdue.
“This tower is what should have been happening a long time ago,” said resident MP Sydney Allicock.
“Communication is a necessity for survival of the indigenous people… It helps to allow people to know what is happening outside of Region Nine.”
Allicock said they are not on a level playing field when it comes to education and other social and political issues and the tower will allow them to come on board with the rest of Guyana.
“We are really excited for the cell tower. I can finally get BlackBerry service and all the other social media,” another resident said. Many other residents were also pleased that children in the area can now access the internet to do research online.
Ian LaFargue who is the engineer in charge of GT&T’s cellular deployment said that the tower was in the works for the last nine months. The 350ft structure, he said, is operating in the 900 MHz spectrum.
La Fargue stated that it is important that persons understand the technology and the reason they selected 900 MHz was because of the strong signal as opposed to an 1800 MHz spectrum. The current radius he said given the mountainous terrain is 5 miles from the site location where persons can also make data calls. The tower not only covers the entire Annai community, but also several other communities, including Bina Hill.
With the installation of the Aranaputa Valley site residents can now engage in many additional socio-economic activites enabled by GT&T’s mobile connectivity.
Also in attendance at the simple yet symbolic ceremony were Retired CEO of GT&T Major General (rtd) Joe Singh; Chief Financial Officer Justin Nedd; Chair-man of the North Rupununi District Develop-ment Board Michael Williams; Toshao Mark George and other regional, council and GT&T officials. (Tifaine Rutherford)