DIGICEL offers “ crystal clear international calls”
Guyana Chronicle
May 12, 2007

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DIGICEL yesterday said its customers are making “crystal clear international calls” on its network, a day after the government granted the mobile provider temporary license to route international calls.

“Since the authorization and directive was issued to Digicel by the Prime Minister, Digicel’s dedicated team has worked quickly to route international calls through our facilities to alleviate the disruption to Guyana caused by the damage to the Americas 11 cable last Sunday morning” Digicel said in a press statement.

The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Limited (GT&T) has challenged the decision by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds to grant temporary permission to Digicel to operate on the international gateway, saying it was “never contacted, consulted, or given a hearing” before the directive from the Prime Minister was issued.

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

Digicel’s chief executive officer Tim Bahrani said “Digicel is pleased that it has been able to ease the disruption to international communications services at this critical time, and our dedicated team has worked quickly and tirelessly to meet the directive”.

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

“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,” the Prime Minister stated in justifying the decision to grant a temporary license to Digicel.

GT&T said it was also not provided with “neither notice nor an opportunity to be heard”, and as such is rejecting as invalid the Prime Minister’s attempt to invoke national security concerns to justify his unprecedented action.

The company also claimed that it was served with court proceedings by Digicel and declared that it intends to be represented in those proceedings. The company said it will also be filing proceedings challenging the Prime Minister’s “unilateral decision”.

The Prime Minster said that while 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 it received a letter from Prime Minister Hinds Wednesday indicating that U-Mobile Cellular Inc (U-MCI) had been directed by the Office of the Prime Minister to utilise its Kingston Earth Station to originate and terminate international traffic on its network.

“The directive, the Prime Minister claims, is informed by national security considerations consequent upon the cable damage,” GT&T said, adding that it has since written to the Prime Minister “to express our disagreement with this course of action and our belief that the directive constitutes an abuse of the laws of Guyana and our legal rights”.

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.