Netherlands company licensed to implement number portability service in Guyana

…PUC says launch date ‘imminent’, as critical testing ongoing

Netherlands-based company Porting XS has been selected as the clearing house for providing number portability administrative services in Guyana. Being licensed now moves the country within inches of implementing the highly-anticipated number switching services.
The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) made this announcement in a statement on Tuesday, ahead of the imminent launch of number portability in Guyana.
Number portability, when implemented, would allow subscribers to switch service providers while retaining their existing telephone numbers. Central to the technical process was the clearinghouse service provider, which is now checked off.
The PUC informed, “The clearinghouse provider will manage the central database with telephone numbers, and technically manage which numbers may be ported upon the request of the consumer.”
The critical stage of live testing of numbers among the service providers is now a daily exercise. According to the PUC, this testing component is an involved science which includes, but is not limited to, the interconnection with the clearinghouse provider; exchange of telephone numbers for porting tests, and certification of every completed test.
Configuration of the routing of calls when a number is ported to another service provider, and testing of short message signals (SMS) during the porting processes all form the basis for the best practices towards a seamless number portability regime in Guyana.

Initially, authorities were working to have this system implemented by July. The PUC has admitted that this was stymied by the delay in the licensing of the clearinghouse provider and the completion of multiple detailed processes, especially the numerous porting tests between the service providers. However, consumers were notified.
“The Commission wishes to assure the public that it continues to actively participate and monitor each testing phase, and that we remain committed to ensuring the successful implementation of number portability. We at the Commission understand that an assigned telephone number, especially mobile numbers, have evolved, and it has become synonymous with a person’s identity as a recovery contact for social media and other electronic platforms. As we strive to make number portability a reality in Guyana, please be assured that we will continue to provide the general public with updates and, ultimately, the new launch date.”
The introduction of the number portability system in Guyana was first announced in May by Chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Dela Britton. She had explained that the PUC has the statutory mandate to implement number portability in Guyana.
As regulator for the telecommunications sector, the PUC is responsible for implementation and general oversight of the number portability process in Guyana. To this end, the Commission has established a Number Portability Working Group (NPWG) to oversee the process.
The Working Group is chaired by a member of the Commission and comprises representatives from all the telecommunications service providers: namely, GTT Incorporated, Digicel and ENet, together with the Telecommunications Agency.
The Telecommunications Agency has the responsibility of processing telecommunications licences, issuance of telephone numbers, and the regulation of spectrum used for both mobile and wireless radio communication.
Currently, the phone service providers in Guyana are GTT, Digicel and E-Net. Another telecoms provider, Green Gibraltar, had received its licence in 2022. It is a 100 per cent Guyanese-owned company established in 2019.
Reports indicate that Guyana has 745,689 mobile subscribers; 97,179 landline subscribers, and 123,856 fixed internet subscribers.

Liberalisation journey
After entering office in 2020, the PPP/C Government heralded the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector shortly after. The advent of liberalisation brought with it the prospect of better quality of service, competitive rates, better prices, and better choices.
Number portability, according to the PUC, is perhaps the key drive of liberalisation with the intended competition and enhanced consumer choice.
In 1990, the Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Company Limited (GT&T) was granted a licence by the Government of Guyana, giving the company a monopoly on landline services and international outbound and inbound calls in Guyana.
However, no provision was made in the licence for monopoly operations of mobile voice services. In 2007, U-Mobile (Guyana) Inc, trading as Digicel, entered the Guyana market and was granted a licence to operate mobile voice services, signalling competition in the mobile market.
On October 5, 2020, when the Telecommunications Act No. 18 of 2016 became effective, creating an automatic termination of GT&T’s monopoly designation, the telecommunications sector entered into an era of new possibilities. The concept of liberalisation was finally realised.
The Government of Guyana granted new licences to the Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Company Limited and U-Mobile (Cellular), and also issued a licence to a third operator, E-Networks, all of which have expanded the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) regulatory reach.
On October 23, 2020, by the requisite publication in the Official Gazette, seven accompanying telecommunications regulations became effective: Licensing and Frequency Authorisation; Spectrum Management; Universal Access and Universal Services; Interconnection and Access; Pricing; Consumer Protection, and Competition. As a consequence of this, competition was increased, and modern (4G and beyond) service is being extended to previously underserved areas.
Competition is driving innovation, as companies move to improve service and keep/acquire customers.
Operators are investing in networks to provide modern and up-to-date services to the Guyanese public in order to win and retain customers. (G12)