With Internet, other services disruption: Digicel gets temporary licence for international calls

Guyana Chronicle
May 10, 2007

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POINTING to a communications crisis and the likelihood of security concerns arising with the damage to the Americas 11 cable, the government yesterday granted temporary permission to Digicel to operate to route international calls in and out of Guyana.

The office of the Prime Minster said that while the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) has put in place adequate satellite redundancy to ensure no disruption of international communications, there continues to be significant disruption of such services and there is uncertainty concerning the timing of the resumption of services through the cable.

GT&T said internet, international data and voice services were affected when the cable developed a fault at 05:45h Sunday in the ocean off French Guiana.

“Since the gravity of the fault became known, the government has been seriously concerned about the potential grave negative consequences on Guyana’s economy and on the lives of the citizenry, while recognising that there may be the likelihood of national security concerns arising,” Prime Minister Samuel Hinds stated.

Digicel has been granted interim permission to utilise the Earth Station for the purpose of providing international traffic until such time as the international communications capacity via the Americas 11 cable is fully restored.

“Government expects that this effort will provide some relief to the current communications crisis facing Guyana”, the Prime Minister stated.

Digicel welcomed the move by the government saying “the government’s speedy response means that Digicel can assist in alleviating the current crisis to communications services by temporarily routing international traffic originating and terminating on the Digicel network.“

Digicel said since the Americas II cable was damaged Sunday morning, the people of Guyana have been experiencing difficulties making and receiving international calls.

“As GT&T has the sole international licence, Digicel has been forced to route all international traffic through GT&T,” Digicel noted.

Digicel Chief Executive Officer Tim Bahrani said “Digicel welcomes the government’s move in granting Digicel a temporary international licence to help alleviate the disruption customers are experiencing in making international calls.”

“Digicel can now help to resolve this disruption by routing international calls over the Digicel network to ensure that the people of Guyana continue to have access to a world-class, reliable mobile service. We are happy to assist the country in this time of need,” Bahrani added.

GT&T on Monday said it was making a significant investment to bring some relief to customers affected by the disruption from Sunday of the Americas 11 cable, which affected Internet, international data and voice services.

The company, in a statement, said it is acquiring, at a cost, additional redundant satellite facilities from Intelsat and had begun installing equipment at Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara to prepare the physical network to accommodate these facilities.

This is the third time in four years that damage off Cayenne has affected Guyanese customers, GT&T said, adding that customers in Suriname have been similarly affected.