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Guyana prepares for new telecoms law

5 Aug 2011

The Guyanese Government has drafted a new telecoms law that will open up the market and create a new regulatory body. The Telecommunications Amendment Bill 2011 has been tabled for debate before the parliament goes into recess in the run up to the general election. Once it comes into effect, licences held by the incumbent Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T), Digicel and four internet service providers (ISPs) will be renewed. The minister for telecommunications will temporarily hold regulatory authority whilst a new watchdog, dubbed the Telecommunication Agency, is set up incorporating the existing National Frequency Managing Unit (NFMU). The new body will then manage the distribution of mobile, fixed, ISP and broadband wireless access (BWA) licences to incoming telcos. It will also establish a universal fund, into which all providers will have to pay a proportion of their revenues, which will then be used to ensure access to telecoms services in underserved areas. As well as ending GT&T’s monopoly, the bill lays out a framework for preventing market dominance by strictly enforcing equitable interconnection rates.

Janis Brennan, a legal consultant working with the government, said that the goal of the reforms was for ‘citizens to have easily accessible, affordable and ubiquitous consistent access to telecommunication services’.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, at the end of March 2011 there were 4,000 broadband subscribers, representing household penetration of only 2.0%, the third lowest in the region after Cuba and Haiti.

Guyana, Digicel (Guyana), Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT), National Frequency Management Unit

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