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Digicel Acquires TWT Guyana

3 Nov 2006

Digicel Group has announced that it has acquired the Guyanese mobile operator TWT Guyana, which operates under the brandnames U-Mobile and Celstar. The acquisition was a surprise, given that it had been expected that Digicel would be awarded the country’s third wireless licence to operate in competition with TWT and the Guayana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T). Indeed, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, President Jagdeo announced back in August that he would award Digicel a national GSM licence, but no date was given as to when the concession would actually be awarded, nor were any terms revealed.

GT&T held a ten-year monopoly on the mobile market in Guyana which ended in February 2001 when TWT Guyana, a division of US-based Trans World Telecom (TWT), was awarded a GSM-900 concession. However, GT&T’s exclusivity actually lasted much longer than could have been expected, and it was not until December 2004 that TWT actually managed to get services off the ground thanks to a series of delaying regulatory issues. In June 2003 the newcomer took a step forward by signed a roaming agreement with GT&T, giving it use of the latter’s network in areas where it had not rolled out its own, but five months later the contract was deemed invalid because of a dispute over TWT’s ownership. In February 2004 the Court of Appeal said there was no case to be answered, freeing TWT once more to negotiate commercial terms for roaming.TWT’s launch finally took place at the end of 2004, and the company has since begun to challenge GT&T by focusing on the youth market.

Guyana, Digicel (Guyana)

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