GT&T kicks off ‘Blue Power' promotion
…regulatory bodies must monitor costing rates – Michael George

Kaieteur News
February 15, 2007

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The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) launched its Blue Power promotion yesterday and Director of Marketing and Sales, Michael George, described the event as an overwhelming success.

“The response to the Cellink Blue Power Promotion has been very strong,” said George. Hundreds responded to the promotion which saw the prices of cell phones plummet yesterday.

Cellink Plus retailers recorded a successful day's sales with lines at every location.

At the GT&T head office on Brickdam scores of persons were observed in a queue, waiting to purchase their cell phones at the reduced prices.

There was also a vibrant throng of Blue Power revelers around the city, decked out n blue jerseys, sharing gifts and urging persons to support the Blue Power entity.

In an interview with Kaieteur News, George posited that it was the value that is entailed with Blue Power (GT&T) that has attracted patrons. He said that other promotions are in the works.

He added that GT&T has always strived to provide real value and with the lead-up to Mashramani, the Rio Summit and Cricket World Cup (CWC) it was a great time for competition and to launch the promotion.

George indicated that over the past several months GT&T has been preparing for the promotions by establishing new cell sites to handle the influx of cell transmission. In Georgetown alone there are 11 sites.

“We are confident that with the success of this promotion there will be no issues in terms of congestion,” said George.

In the event of call blocking, which is likely to occur from time to time, George pointed out that the engineers at the facility will identify that problem instantaneously and measures will be taken to alleviate the situation by increasing the frequency.

GT&T will not be engaging in any pricing wars with Digicel. George said that it would be a counterproductive move, one that would only negatively impact the consumers. He said that both GT&T and Digicel have been in the business long enough to know that this would not be to the benefit of either company.

However, George said that there is always the danger of predatory pricing. Such pricing tactics prevail when there is a financially strong company that is able to market below the cost price for sustained periods, driving the competitors off the market.

George said that when the rival has been driven out then the monopoly that could result will see the predator forcing prices skyward, to levels higher than they were before. The reason for the higher pricing would be for the monopoly to recover the losses it incurred during the initial pricing policy.

George said that the regulatory body, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) should pay keen attention to such a development.

Although the PUC has set floor rates for the cell phone rates it is unclear whether consideration was given to the sale of instruments. George pointed out that regarding costing rates if one were to operate at the floor rate and make handsets available below cost, or free, that would imply a rate reduction for consumers.

George urged the PUC to address cell phone subsidies pertaining to costing rates.

It also allows for the transfer of losses in one territory to be transferred to another. George said that Digicel operates in many Caribbean territories. Phones not sold in one territory could be imported to Guyana. There is need to ensure that phones left over from regional markets don't make their way into the local market.

In terms of services, George noted that GT&T's is comparable with anything offered throughout the Caribbean.

George noted that in reference to the much touted Blackberry instrument which is a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) that allows for web browsing and e-mail services, GT&T has been offering that service for free for the past year 18 months. He said that it may not always be free.

Regarding the instrument GT&T have available to the public handsets that are even more technologically advanced, providing more functionality than the Blackberry.

Meanwhile, Government is scheduled to re-engage GT&T in discussions for the full liberalisation of the telecommunications sector. The disclosure was made yesterday by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds following the launch of Digicel's service in Guyana. The Prime Minister, who holds the portfolio for telecommunications, said Government held several unsuccessful negotiations with Atlantic Tele-Network, GT&T's parent company relating to its hold on identified communication services. Previous discussions between stakeholders led to the entry of Digicel's predecessor, Cel*Star, which commenced service in Guyana in December 2004.