Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) has launched ‘Free Basic 4G Services,’ enabling customers to access more than 20 websites and applications without using their data allowance. Demerara Waves quotes GTT Chief Commercial Officer Gert Post as saying that the promotion is intended to encourage customers to use high speed mobile data services: ‘the end product of this initiative is that people are getting used to use more data and replace their expenditure on voice with expenditure on data services.’ The official added that the company expects data to replace traditional voice and messaging in the long term, noting: ‘You see all over the world that data services cannibalise voice services, so that means our voice revenue ultimately will drop and our data revenues have to grow.’ The sites covered by the deal are primarily news and information-based, and include seven local news websites as well as Wikipedia, Google, EducationGY.org and the World Health Organisation (WHO). GTT has, however, added social media site Facebook and messaging app WhatsApp to the offer, and will provide customers that top up with more than GYD500 (USD2.31) 48 hours of free access to Facebook.
The government has yet to comment explicitly on the potential competition issues of the offering, but a spokesperson indicated that the state would not oppose zero rating services for the time being: ‘The free websites offered by GTT helps Guyanese who are not yet connected to the internet to discover the value of connectivity and expand their access to knowledge and growth. This is part of our commitment to bridging the digital divide and the reason why the government of Guyana supports it wholeheartedly.’