Guyana seeks to keep pace with technological advances
GUYANA is seeking to keep abreast with world technological advances
Guyana Chronicle
January 22, 2002

In an exclusive interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Minister with responsibility for the telecommunication sector, Prime Minister Sam Hinds, observed that the existing regulations governing the sector are inadequate.

Mr. Hinds noted that deficiencies include the absence of laws to govern the operations of Internet cafes and other businesses linked to telecommunications.

The Prime Minister explained that a February 2002 deadline has been set to open up the telecommunications sector, and new players, who will be invited to provide a wider range of telecommunication services, will be governed by the new regulations.

“Government has been persuaded that an open, free market competitive sector is possible and highly desirable,” Mr. Hinds said.

He maintained that the modernisation of the telecommunications sector comes through the call by consumers for additional services, and is also in keeping with the emerging international free market trend in the sector.

“Telecommunications has changed over the last 20 years,” the Prime Minister remarked. He said that this change is “embedded in the World Trade Organisation and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

“Both of these agencies have expressed explicit preference for a competitive regime,” Mr. Hinds said.

But prior to arriving at the position to modernise the telecommunications sector, the Prime said, the Government held consultations with consumers at centres in Georgetown, Linden, Anna Regina, New Amsterdam and other areas of the country.

The modernisation and reform of the telecommunications sector is being funded with the assistance of the Inter-American Development Bank and an Options and Strategy Paper towards this end was submitted to Government last year.

Consultations are to be held with the GT&T, who are the major players in the field, and this will hopefully pave the way for a smooth transition, the Prime Minister explained.

At the moment, the GT&T is the major provider of telephone services across the country, but there are a few small cell phone operators who have established linkages with residents in outlying areas, including the Corentyne coast.

The telephone house is currently seeking an increase in rates based on arguments of rate rebalancing and cost recovery following the reduction of settlement rates for outbound calls to the United States from US85 cents to US23 cents per minute.

This rate became mandatory through the Federal Communications Commission where the ATN carriers, MCI, Sprint and AT&T were equally granted the US23 cents reduction for incoming calls to Guyana. (GINA)