With approval granted by government, coupled with its signalled intent to pass the long-awaited telecommunications liberalisation legislation, the country’s two mobile carriers GTT and Digicel have announced that they will roll out 4G service in time for Guyana’s 50th Anniversary celebrations.
“Finally, we will bring you 4G (fourth generation mobile telecoms technology). I know that you have waited a long time and I am happy as you to say that we have received approval from the government,” Chief Executive Officer of GTT, Justin Nedd, announced in a statement on Friday.
Digicel fired back the next day saying that while it was not “bashing” GTT, that company has held back telecommunication development in Guyana for the past 25 years. Digicel stated that it, too, welcomed government’s 4G approval and was also going to launch its 4G service for the Independence Anniversary this year.
“Before independence day, Digicel is committed to try to launch 4G not just in Georgetown but across the country,” the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Kelly stated on Saturday.
Digicel has regularly pressed government to end the monopoly held by the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT).
Both companies also had grand advertisements in yesterday’s edition of the country’s daily newspapers.
Government earlier this year had said that it hoped to conclude negotiations with GTT to liberalise the telecommunications sector and pass laws in this regard, later this year.
“Mr. Speaker, the government will conclude negotiations with ATN and GTT, with a view of bringing to an end GTT’s claim to a monopoly over international voice and data transmissions and domestic wireline service,” Minister of Finance Winston Jordan had told the National Assembly during his budget presentation in January.
He had said that draft legislation – Bills, Regulations, and Model Licences – have already been developed that will inform and govern a liberalised telecommunications regime and stressed that “The Government is committed to having these Bills tabled and passed this year,”
Liberalisation of this sector had been promised within 100 days of APNU+AFC taking office, according to its manifesto. Prior to APNU+AFC taking office, the PPP/C government had also promised an end to the GTT monopoly and liberalisation. Promises were made over a 10-year period to no avail.
Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes was appointed to underline how important the sector is to the government but the reform bill is still to be presented.
Both telecommunications providers praised Hughes for the role she played in the process.
“Minister of Public Telecommunications Cathy Hughes has been visionary and forthright in acknowledging GTT’s ability to Do More for their customers,” GTT stated.
GTT said that its service will be available to its mobile customers with active data plans in Georgetown and that additional areas will soon be activated to offer more customers the new 4G experience.
On the other hand, Digicel said that when it rolls out its service it will be countrywide as it was committed to ensuring all regions access its services.
Alluding to the fact that Hughes assured the company that the telecommunications legislation will have government’s support for passage, the Digicel CEO said that he believes Hughes and commits that once it is passed Guyana will see economic development across the board.
“Hopefully the government will pass this bill and honour their words. I believe the minister and I am really grateful to the minister since she became the minister she has brought forward the legislation. That will generate thousands of jobs. It will bring foreign direct investment, it will bring money,” Kelly said.
“4G is only the start, if government passes the liberalisation bill. It will create lots of jobs and lots investment and lots of nice things for the future so that our telecommunication can be on par. When I say on par, I am not talking about Digicel. I am talking about the country of Guyana, bringing us on par with our neighbours and we can get that foreign direct investment that currently goes to Trinidad and other countries,” he added.