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‘Big bad John’ in little Georgetown; GT&T pressures cafes over VoIP

19 Nov 2012

Internet cafes have threatened to take legal action against Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) over the company’s blocking of voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) through its DSL services, reports Demerara Waves. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that GT&T has a long standing policy of blocking internet connections where customers have used VoIP services though internet cafes have been given a degree of amnesty; internet cafes have been permitted to provide VoIP under certain conditions.

However, GT&T has accused these providers of ‘short-changing’ the operator, by using the facility to provide VoIP services through a third-party and has begun blocking internet access. GT&T’s Director of Rate Making and Regulation, Gene Evelyn was quoted as saying that the cafes had purchased minutes from GT&T, but had not used them: ‘They are utilising minutes that they purchase elsewhere and they have set up special facilities at their ends with SIP [sessions initiation protocol] phones, etc. so that the calls can go through.’

GT&T has offered to allow internet cafes to provide VoIP services through other companies and applications if the cafes use the telco’s Standard Business DSL service, which costs GUY30,000 (USD149.99) per month. The Internet Interest Holders Group (IIHG) will take the matter to sector regulator the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), arguing that GT&T is abusing its dominant position in the broadband market and its monopoly on international voice services. IIHG claims that the incumbent is ‘trying to demonstrate a ‘big bad John’ attitude…, that this is the only option.’ A spokesperson from IIHG referred to the telco’s policy as ‘bullying’, adding that GT&T’s own VoIP services compared poorly to its rivals with calls to only around 50 other countries, and prices up to eight times higher.

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