Digicel gets interim permit for overseas calls
Stabroek News
May 10, 2007

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In the wake of the damaged Americas II cable, the Government of Guyana has granted interim permission to U-Mobile Cellular Inc (Digicel) to utilize its Earth Station for the purpose of providing international traffic originating and terminating on its network only until the cable is restored.

Up to this point GT&T had held a monopoly on the international gateway.

On Sunday morning at 5.45 the Americas II Cable developed a fault in the Atlantic Ocean off French Guiana and this may take as long as 21 days to fix.

A press release from the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday said that Government expects that this effort will provide some relief to the current communications crisis facing Guyana. "Government also expects that all efforts would be made to restore service via the Cable at the earliest," the release said.

The recent fault in the Americas II Cable has resulted in ongoing serious disruptions in international communications (voice, data and internet services) to and from Guyana.

"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 release said.

The Government is also concerned that notwithstanding efforts by GT&T to put in place adequate redundancy to ensure no disruption of international communications there continues to be significant disruptions of such services. GT&T had said that the contingency facilities being put in place would see reduced capacities in some internet and data services.

"The Government is also troubled about the uncertainty concerning the timing of resumption of services via the cable," the release from the Prime Minister said.

In a press release on Tuesday, Digicel called for the liberalisation of the mobile communication market and for the granting of an international licence to route international calls to Guyana in the wake of the disruption of the Americas II Cable.

Digicel CEO Tim Bahrani said that Guyana needed to build on the successes of hosting the Cricket World Cup and the Rio Group Meeting and called for the liberalising of all existing monopolies in the telecommunications sector.

Digicel lamented the fact that all communications providers were forced to route their international calls through GT&T. Bahrani said that his company was ready to make considerable investment in developing an alternative solution to the Americas II Cable, so that the disruption in service does not isolate Guyana from the international community.

Digicel in a press release yesterday said that 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.