Telecommunications sector open for investment – PM Phillips
– issues licences to GTT, Digicel and E-Networks
Prime Minister, Retired Brigadier Mark Phillips handed over operational licences and accompanying documents this afternoon to three service providers within the telecommunications sector.
In his address, he stated that the sector is now liberalised and opened for investment. The documents were issued during a simple ceremony in the boardroom of the Office of the Prime Minister, to representatives of GTT, Digicel and E-Networks.
Agents of the Public Utilities Commission and the Telecommunications Agency also received copies of the documents.
The distribution of licences took place less than 24 hours after the Prime Minister historically announced the ending of a 30-year monopoly on telecommunications in Guyana.
In a statement on Monday evening, he had noted that the Government of Guyana had issued commencement orders effectively liberalising the telecommunications sector by operationalising the “Telecommunications Act 2016” and the “Public Utilities Act 2016”.
“It is anticipated that Guyanese will feel an immediate positive impact from the implementation of these legislation, which create a modern and competitive environment for telecommunications, and which will immediately result in greater choices, a better quality of service and lower prices for consumers,” the Prime Minister added.
Managing Director of E-Networks, Vishok Persaud was elated with the decision.
“I would just like to congratulate the Prime Minister on getting the job done so fast and creating an atmosphere where we can see rapid development in ICT and telecommunications… I think it’s going to be good for the consumer and there is going to be a lot of benefits in terms of access to new technology, speed, cloud initiatives etcetera.”
Echoing the sentiments of Persaud was Chief Executive Officer of Digicel, Gregory Dean: “I would just like to congratulate him [the Prime Minister] for getting it done as soon as possible, in fact, it is probably even sooner than we expected, but I think that’s good news for us and it gives us a good problem in terms of ensuring we back up our promises on investment and improvement in services.”
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT), Justin Nedd added his approval and noted that GTT would use the opportunity to develop further.
“I want to congratulate the Prime Minister and team, and I just want to say to customers that GTT will continue to innovate…we look forward to bringing new services like 5G as we work with regulators and the Government.”
Chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Dela Britton added that her Commission is ready to help take the sector to the next level.
“I would like to assure all the service providers present that we at Public Utilities are open for business and we are willing and ready to engage you, and we are going to adhere to the adage of regulation must not impede innovation because in truth and in fact, this is perhaps the first steps towards innovatory things that will be going on in Guyana.”
The Telecommunications Bill was first introduced in the National Assembly during the ninth Parliament by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Government in 2011, and it was then reintroduced during the tenth Parliament in 2012 after extensive consultations with both public and private operators.
According to the Prime Minister, it is inexplicable as to why the former Administration denied Guyanese the full benefits of liberalisation by only enforcing small sections of the Act in 2018 and 2019 respectively, although the bill was enacted since 2016 with bipartisan support.