GT&T launches major new international link

by Amanda Wilson
Guyana Chronicle
January 31, 2001

THE telephone company GT&T has marked its 10th anniversary with the launching of a major new cable link that allows live video-conferencing and other state-of-the-art connections between Guyana and other countries.

HOW IT WORKS: Ms Sonita Jagan giving President Jagdeo and others an insight into the project. Marking the occasion was a live video conference link-up between Guyana and Suriname with President Bharrat Jagdeo in Georgetown and President Ronald Venetiaan in the Suriname capital Paramaribo speaking to each other while their images were on video screens in both capitals.

The launching was of the Americas II submarine fibre optic link which directly connects Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname and the international arena.

The US$362M project kicked off with the live video coverage of the Cantou 17th annual general meeting in Paramaribo.

In Georgetown, the launching was in the GT&T (Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company) headquarters on Brickdam.

The company says the submarine cable link will make it easier for Guyana to introduce "call centres", have tele-conferences, tele-medicine and distance learning while offering clearer and cheaper Internet access.

With the submarine cable, President Jagdeo and Mr Venetiaan and other officials of GT&T and TeleSur, the telecommunication company of Suriname involved in the partnership, were able to communicate with each other about the project.

Mr Jagdeo stressed that focus must be directed to education and the development of technology because these areas can develop a new range of industries and place Third World nations in a position to effectively compete in the new world.

He noted that the world is changing and that Third World nations can no longer rely on developed countries for support because many of them are experiencing problems of their own.

"In Third World countries we are not short of brain power and if we add modern technology to the brain power we can play a leadership role in the new millennium", he stressed.

He also said he hopes that the next focus will be to create a direct linkage with South Africa for better South to South relations.

Mr Jagdeo noted that the new linkage will allow citizens of Guyana and Suriname to better understand each other and create new opportunities economically and socially.

He recalled that at the Summit of the Presidents of South America in the Brazil capital Brasilia last year, which he and Venetiaan attended, emphasis was placed on the importance of telecommunication in promoting integration.

He urged both countries to use the new cable as a medium to promote further integration in the South American continent.

President Jagdeo also suggested that Heads of State in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) should meet more than twice yearly because some of the problems experienced by member states need urgent solutions.

However, he hopes that these states will use the cable to hold live conferences and congratulated both countries for undertaking and completing the project.

Mr Venetiaan too congratulated both companies on their success in developing an international telecommunication linkage.

He noted that the venture is very important in the integration of both countries and the Caribbean and that it is a mutual effort by both countries to keep communication between them open and lively.

President Venetiaan said he sincerely hopes that the cable would result in positive improvements between Guyana and Suriname in the telecommunication field.

Mrs Iris Struiken-Wijdenbosch, General Manager of TeleSur, said the new cable was on the agenda at the Cantou conference.

She congratulated GT&T on its 10th birthday and noted that it has benefited Guyana even though it experienced many problems over the years. TeleSur is also celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Wijdenbosch added that she is confident that the submarine cable will help integrate both countries by creating opportunities for customers in Suriname and Guyana.

She said the project would not have been possible without the cooperation of the two companies.

Ms Sonita Jagan, General Manager of GT&T, recalled that plans to develop the project started three years ago and that over that period, representatives of GT&T and TeleSur met several times.

She said it was decided among the three countries that the terminal station would be placed in French Guiana and that cable connections would run from that country through Suriname and into Guyana.

"It is because the three Guianas recognise what the future of telecommunication is and what it will be, we felt that it was absolutely important that we buy into this cable", Jagan said.

She noted that Guyana invested US$6M and the venture demonstrates the commitment by two neighbours to work together in the interest of their citizens.

Telecommunications recognise no boundaries, borders and rivers unite countries not separate them, the GT&T General Manager said.

Her hope is for the cable to be fully utilised to develop and improve communication in Guyana and Suriname and she noted that yesterday's live coverage between Guyana and Suriname was a dramatic demonstration of what GT&T was now able to provide.

Jagan said GT&T was still working towards the goal of having a phone in every house, but pointed out that with the new cable, customers will be able to have video conferences, tele medicine and distance learning, among other facilities.

"It will allow the opening up of any area from a telecommunication point of view."

She said the venture is GT&T's gift to Guyana and it reflects the local phone company's commitment to developing telecommunication in Guyana.

Mr Edmund Neus, TeleSur Director of Operational Affairs, explained how the linkage was achieved across the Corentyne River.

He said Suriname invested some US$5.5M in the project which can facilitate 1,500 telephone conversations simultaneously.

The venture allows Suriname to deal with telecommunication without a hassle with satellites while at the same time provide improved communication in Suriname, Neus noted.

He added that he hopes that the two countries will continue to cooperate to allow business relations to expand.

Mr Raymond Roopnauth, GT&T Specialist in International Affairs, said that as the project was in operation technology made a further advancement.

He said that the Guianas took advantage of technology at the right time and that persons are discussing plans to build an Americas Three submarine cabling system.

He noted that the cable was built by private telecommunications operations.

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