Cel*star aims for quality service come October
-US$10M already invested
Stabroek News
July 20, 2003

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Quality service and affordable prices are what Cel*Star Guyana says it will be offering its customers when its cellular service starts up in October.

Its system will have a start up capacity to accommodate 40,000 customers but this could be increased with little or no delay to accommodate a larger number.

Chief Executive Officer of the company, Guyanese-born Wesley Kirton, told Stabroek News that those three factors would be key to the success of the company as there was room for a reliable, quality service which offered premium customer care at affordable prices.

Kirton explained that Cel*Star, a subsidiary of Trans World Communications, is in the process of installing state-of-the-art equipment including the second generation global system for mobile communications which delivers high quality and secure mobile voice and data services such as SMS/Text Message, with full roaming capabilities around the world.

Cel*Star plans to offer roaming, text messaging and voice mail, all features which GT&T is in the process of offering its customers. Kirton actually sees this as a positive development as he says it indicates the benefits that could accrue to customers from competition.

He explained that because the phones being used on the GT&T system cannot be used on Cel*Starís system, his company is in discussions with a number of small businesses about importing GSM-enabled phones with the objective of getting them to secure the instrument in bulk which would reduce the unit price of the handset to the customer.

Kirton said Cel*Star was still in the process of working out a strategy to allow it to provide a basic handset to its customers at an affordable price.

Commenting on the pricing of its services, Kirton says that his company is engaging the Public Utilities Commission, with which it has developed a formally correct relationship, in a discussion on price structuring in a competitive environment.

However, he said that in the final analysis it was the sole responsibility of the PUC to approve of prices offered by the telephone companies.

Kirton also disclosed that Cel*Star would soon begin to speed up the recruitment of staff it needs, explaining that he anticipates that 98 per cent of the skills could be recruited locally.

Cel*Star has so far spent US$10M in setting up its infrastructure and expects to spend another US$10M in equipment, additional capital expenditure and for starting up its operations at its main sales office in the Hand-in-Hand building in Georgetown along with satellite offices in New Amsterdam and Linden.

It is an investment Kirton believes Cel*Star can recoup in a reasonable timeframe and he feels that the presence of representatives of the government and the parliamentary opposition at a ceremony at its offices last week is an indication of their commitment to a hospitable environment for both local and foreign investors. (Patrick Denny)