Guyana to begin talks next month to end GT&T monopoly

23 August 2016 | James Pearce


The Guyanese government has announced plans to begin negotiations next month with Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) to end its monopoly on international voice and data.

GT&T renewed its license agreement for international voice and calls in 2010 for another 15 years, but minister of public telecommunications Lance Hinds virtually ruled out any compensation being paid back to the carrier for the remaining nine years on its licence, according to Demerara Waves. GT&T-parent company Atlantic Tele-Network has held the licence since 1990.

Speaking at a public forum, Hinds said: “That is not a discussion that is really going to happen because it is difficult to put a value on an exclusive licence for nine years down the road because you (are) doing future projections on earnings and that gets into a science that will only get us into a dispute.”

Talks are expected to last until at least the end of October, according to Hinds, who said the government aimed to put systems dictating the liberalisation process in place by the end of November.

To support opening the process up to rival carriers, Hinds identified a number of areas in which regulations will need to be developed in association with the Telecommunications Act 2016. The Act, which was introduced in May, aims to open up the Guyanese market to more operators.

Hinds identified licence and frequency authorisation, interconnection and access, pricing related to competition, competition, and customer protection as key areas where regulations will need to be developed. But he added that the timeframe will be dependent on new submarine fibre-optic cables being landed in Guyana by companies including Digicel.

He also warned that some of the telecommunications companies within the South American country may not be enthusiastic about the proposals. 

“How we manage those kinds of things, as we move forward, is going to be tricky in terms of who is going to hold the infrastructure, who is going to rent from who, so all those conversations are going to come up because we simply can’t have a situation where every man jack is running fibre all over the town,” he added.