Massive crowds storm
Digicel stores at official launch

Kaieteur News
February 15, 2007

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Digicel opened its doors yesterday to waves of eager patrons at 50 locations countrywide. The official launching ceremony was conducted at the flagship store located at the City Mall, Regent and Camp Streets.

Massive crowds were observed at most stores around the city, with persons waiting in line hours before the doors opened eventually storming the outlets to take advantage of the stunning offers.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds praised the Digicel intervention into the telecommunications industry, saying that the move brings liveliness to the telecommunications sector and noting that it is the fastest growing sector.

“We welcome Digicel into the market, and we welcome the competition involved…There are indications of price improvement for the customers, and improved services,” said Hinds.

He noted that the Government looks forward to good, clean competition and the intensification as well as advancement of telecommunications locally.

The Prime Minister also indicated that this move will allow for a completely open sector, adding that Guyana would want to have the benefits of outsourcing possibilities and call centres.

Chief Executive Officer of Digicel Guyana, Tim Bahrani, saw the turnout as a favourable indicator. He noted that Digicel is looking at a completely new way of retailing, adding that patrons can expect a completely new range of cellular phones.

“It's been an exciting few months getting to launch Digicel in Guyana…I am delighted that we are opening 50 Digicel stores to such an enthusiastic response from the Guyanese public. This is the second largest turnout in the Caribbean.”

The flagship store boasts spacious settings and fresh, modern displays and fixtures, with an impressive range of brand new handsets available.

Every customer who purchased a handset at any of the Digicel stores yesterday was presented with a $500 gift credit and free ticket to last evening's ‘Experience' concert featuring superstar Akon.

‘Blue Power' was also evident at the launching of Digicel at the mall, with the competing representative urging patrons to take advantage of the sale at the GT&T outlet.

The trend was the same at every location that Digicel opened.

Digicel had promoted its opening with an advertising and campaign blitz. Scores of motor vehicles sported Digicel flags. However, by mid-morning, GT&T had mounted its own campaign. People were approaching those with the Digicel flags and making it worth their while to replace those with ‘Blue Power' flags.

The switch afforded some motorists a $500 top up on their cellular phones.

Digicel is investing more than US$60M here in establishing a new state-of-the-art network. Yesterday, the company unveiled a wide range of handsets, including the Motorola F3, Nokia 110, and Konka E100, starting from as low as $2,900.

Digicel is also introducing the ‘Blackberry' for the first time to the Guyanese market.

The Digicel offer was matched by GT&T's phone offer with some instruments being retailed for as low as $1,000 and the buyer getting $1,000 in credit.

Digicel plans to establish satellite connections in areas such as Lethem, Mabaruma, Silver Hill, Salem, Soesdyke, Canal Numbers One and Two, Tuschen, and Camp Alpha.

“We are committed to expanding to more and more communities and becoming the mobile operator of choice in Guyana… The welcome we have received from the Guyanese people has been fantastic, and we are looking forward to becoming an active participant in local communities,” Bahrani said.

Digicel currently employs more than 200 persons, and another 18,000 are expected to benefit from indirect employment.

Digicel was granted a licence to operate in Guyana during August 2006. The company subsequently entered into discussions with Celstar Guyana, which led to the purchase of Celstar's assets. Government, through the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), instituted measures to ensure lower rates and greater accessibility. One of these measures was the enforcement of per-second billing, which ensures that consumers pay only for the time spent on the network. Additionally, ‘caps and floors' have been instituted to stipulate the parameters within which mobile phone charges can be set. With effect from February 17, all mobile phone rates will range between $7 and $32. A high level of competition has erupted in the sector following the launch of Digicel's service.