Guyana’s Ministry of Public Telecommunications has weighed-in on a long-standing dispute between fixed line monopolist Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT) and mobile operator Digicel Guyana over allegations that the latter has been carrying out illegal international transmission of voice and data traffic via a link with Suriname. GTT, which also holds a monopoly on international voice and data transmission, has accused Digicel of ‘illegal, unlicensed’ cross-border communications, claiming that such activity has cost the company between USD40 million and USD50 million whilst state coffers have been denied an estimated USD30 million through unpaid fees. Demerara Waves writes that GTT has called for a full probe into Digicel’s alleged illegal operations, its licence and the possible impact on Guyana’s economy.
The request has backfired somewhat, however, with the Ministry of Public Telecommunications highlighting possible quality of service (QoS) problems the nation could face if it is forced to rely solely on GTT’s international links. In a statement, the ministry invited GTT to submit proof that the company has sufficient network capacity to serve Guyana’s needs if Digicel’s link with Suriname is cut off. The ministry added that it was not ‘in any way eager to condone’ Digicel’s alleged infractions, but noted that it must find a resolution that will be in the best interest of the people of Guyana. Consequently, the government’s decision would depend on ‘whether GTT has sufficient data capacity to meet the needs of the market and the degree of congestion on its network.’ The ministry went on to explain: ‘While the government is committed to ensuring that applicable licence terms and conditions are honoured, we must similarly ensure that relevant obligations in the licences that provide for adequate service are met, and also that the needs of the people are met.’