PM raises calls to Guyana problems with GT&T

Guyana Chronicle
June 16, 2001

PRIME Minister Sam Hinds this week raised issues of mutual concern to the Government of Guyana and the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T), noting widespread complaints about calling into the country.

A release from Mr. Hinds' office said the problems are related to GT&T's negotiations with telecommunications carriers in the United States based on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's mandated reduction of international settlement rates for calls emanating from the U.S.

This reduction will be effective January 1, 2002.

The release noted that during the negotiations there has been a reduction of service to Guyana by certain U.S. carriers.

It said that GT&T foresees even greater difficulties after January 1, 2002 as in many countries higher international calling rates have been used to subsidise local telephone rates in Guyana.

According to the release, the company restated its concerns about the need for rebalancing local rates particularly within exchanges.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that there is an urgent need to address the issue of rate rebalancing in light of the imminent reduction of international settlement rates.

The release said he indicated that the consideration of this issue should be treated as a priority in the telecommunications reform programme that is under way.

It said GT&T raised the issue of termination of overseas calls and bypass of its international telecommunications gateway via direct satellite connections and via the Internet.

Mr. Hinds indicated that it is the current position of the Government that the existing GT&T licence provisions should be honoured.

However, he said that the Government's current telecommunications reform programme has a goal of achieving a competitive telecommunications system by the end of 2002.

The release said he also referred to the Government's policy of promoting call centres and being willing to licence call centres/data entry businesses to establish international VSAT facilities solely for the use of such businesses without links to any carrier or any other premises in Guyana.

GT&T said that there was a need to review its introductory pricing structure for Internet usage. The company noted the increasing utilisation of its networks for the Internet and expressed concerns about recovering its costs and financing of network expansion under the current pricing structure.

The Prime Minister said that consistent with the Government's policy of promoting Internet use in the country, the Government would be open to new pricing approaches by which the Internet carries its fair share of costs.

He advised that at this time GT&T should continue pursuing pricing issues with the Public Utilities Commission.