Consumer groups call for Cel*Star interconnection
Stabroek News
February 14, 2004

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Two consumer groups are urging GT&T to reconsider its decision not to provide interconnection to cellular phone company, Cel*Star.

The Consumers Advisory Bureau (CAB) and the Guyana Consumers Association (GCA) in a joint letter dated February 12 told the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) the request was being made in the interest of consumers as well as the national interest.

GT&T has refused to provide the connection that would link Cel*Star customers to the GT&T system before the issue of the company's ownership is settled in two court matters.

According to the letter released to the media yesterday, the GCA and CAB are asking that GT&T "proceeds with whatever it is obligated to do to allow Cel*Star to start up their business and offer their services to Guyanese customers.

"When the Cel*Star company signalled its intention to establish in Guyana, this was regarded countrywide and in particular by the consumer community, as a very important and welcome development. We felt grateful that ATN/GT&T initially, did not appear to be hostile to the advent of the new company," the release further said.

According to the consumer groups, the telecommunication sector investment was welcomed initially because it was felt that the present monopoly status in the telecom industry enjoyed by GT&T, would have begun to see liberalisation.

According to the groups, Cel*Star was also welcomed because unlike most investors in poor countries it made no exorbitant demands but instead showed its good faith by investing a large sum of money in setting-up equipment, in furnishing a headquarters and providing immediate employment for over thirty Guyanese.

"We were therefore surprised when we read in the newspapers that GT&T had estopped the process of interconnection thus preventing Cel*Star from getting ahead with their business and in effect wasting that company's investment and denying consumers our expected benefits from the competitive environment," the letter said.

"GT&T as we understand it, somehow or other, has been linking the outcome of this case to the honouring of their interconnection contract with Cel*Star in Guyana.

"In our view, GT&T could suffer no loss or damage from the Florida Court case and their honouring of their contract is in no way dependent upon the outcome of that Florida case which seems to us to have no relationship whatsoever to the contractual arrangements between GT&T and Cel*Star in Guyana."