Unlicenced satellite internet service at risk of closure

Stabroek News
June 21, 2001

The government is threatening to close the operations of an internet service provider for what it says is a continued breach of an agreement to enter an arrangement with the phone company on the international gateway.

A similar order was issued to an East Bank Demerara company which is providing cable programming services in the Republic Park, Nandy Park, Providence and Eccles areas without being licenced.

In a letter dated June 7 to Noel Holder, Managing Director of I-Net Communications Inc., Prime Minister Samuel Hinds reiterated that the company was offering certain services without the requisite permission.

Also served with a similar warning on June 7 was Chetram Singh of Atlantic Cable Network of 124 Lindley Avenue, Nandy Park, Peter's Hall, EBD. He was advised that his company was in breach of the Telecommunications Act 1990 which stated that it is an offence to provide such service without a licence granted under Section 47.

I-Net Communications was said to be in breach of the law due to its offering of international satellite connections for resale without authorisation.

This is however being disputed by an I-Net official who said that the company has been operating within the scope of the licence granted which enables it to provide data communication services within Guyana.

Hinds' letter stated that I-Net was informed at a meeting on November 1, 2000 that it was operating certain services without the requisite permission.

The letter said I-Net was further allowed to clear the "unlicenced" equipment only upon its appeal and a "gentleman's agreement" that the equipment would be held in storage and not put into use until a licence could be arranged.

At the November 1 meeting, the prime minister deferred his request for I-Net to disconnect the unauthorised system and discontinue offering services for sale so that the company would hold discussions with the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T). These discussions were intended for the parties to enter into some kind of relationship regarding international gateway facilities until such time as GT&T's monopoly is clearly determined.

The I-Net source pointed out that GT&T's monopoly did not extend to internet services since at the time of the conclusion of the agreement in 1990 there were no such services available.

Hinds' letter warned that in the face of the continuing breach, the National Frequency Management Unit might be required to close the unlicenced operations.

Among the offices which stand to be affected by the closure of I-Net's operations are those of the Office of the President, the ministries of finance, education and foreign affairs and several international institutions and embassies. Among these are the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Union, the Caribbean Community Secretariat and the United States embassy.