Still no word on NCN uplink equipment probe

Almost two months after revelations that the National Communications Network (NCN) may have had equipment for satellite uplinking, a service which it had contracted out at significant expense, the entity is mum on the investigation.

Chairman of the Board, Bish Panday told Stabroek News last week that the ongoing investigation into whether or not the equipment could have been used for uplinking was an NCN matter.

When pressed to explain since there is public concern over the lack of information on the investigation, he stated that “you can have your concerns, the affairs will be dealt with by NCN.”

Panday added “I can’t be discussing NCN affairs with the newspapers.”

The Chairman had previously told Stabroek News that the state entity’s lack of technical expertise had delayed a determination on the capabilities of uplink equipment found on its premises. While adding that “NCN is a national organisation and the public has a right to know.”

The discovery of the equipment is seen as important as the government had contracted out uplink services for NCN’s Guyana Learning Channel since 2010.

Panday had told Stabroek News in an earlier interview that “NCN has a problem with technical people, you could call it wherewithal and I am still trying to get technical advice on the way forward. The equipment is there, I don’t have in house. NCN I don’t believe they have the technical people to guide the way forward.”

The Chairman of the Board added that it is still to be determined if the equipment that was discovered could have provided the uplink service.

He said that “the people who know, they are in short supply, they are pricey and it is hard to get a hold of them”. The equipment has been at NCN since the last

uarter of 2013 and in October, Kaieteur News reported that it was discovered by staff.

A five-year contract worth $185M was signed between the government and Television Guyana Inc (TVG) in 2010 to provide a satellite uplink facility for the Learning Channel. Currently, the government is paying TVG $3.6 million per month in a bundled package for services inclusive of the uplinking cost to the NSS-806 satellite.

In May 2013, GLC Head Dr Seeta Shah-Roath told Stabroek News that NCN had dismissed the uplinking of the GLC as “not a viable project, both technically and financially,” which resulted in no public tender for the service.

She had told this newspaper that when she had first approached NCN on the issue of providing satellite services for the GLC, top persons there had told her that it would be “first world technology being put into a third world scenario”. She said that in a meeting with NCN she was told that it was only possible to downlink and use terrestrial-based broadcasting which was in line with technology being used by NCN. Subsequently a deal was struck with TVG which had the uplinking capabilities.

The legend for NCN’s allocation of $65 million in the 2012 capital projects profile, says: “The project includes purchase of production equipment for various locations, including broadcast loggers, amplifiers, antenna system with combiners, transmission lines, fibre-optic cables, fibre media convertors, teleprompter, microphones, headsets, tripods, recorders, workstations and generator.” It was also meant to facilitate the purchase of a vehicle. However, under the same allocation of $65 million in 2013, it was stated that some of the money would be going toward the purchase of satellite downlink and uplink equipment.

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