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Govt to amend GTT, Digicel, E-Network licences; details exemption order for ISPs

26 Feb 2021

Guyanese telecoms watchdog the Telecommunications Agency has published details of the proposed amendments to the licences of Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT), Digicel Guyana and E-Networks, as well as the exemption order signed by the Prime Minister earlier this week to expedite the licensing of ISPs. Stakeholders have until 8 March 2021 to submit comments regarding the planned amendments to the telcos’ concessions, whilst the exemption order took effect immediately, on 19 February. As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate earlier this week, Guyana’s PM Mark Phillips signed an exemption order allowing around 50 small, local ISPs to bypass parts of the licensing procedure to accelerate the process of issuing authorisations. At the same time, the official had commented that the government had received and granted requests from the incumbent licensees to amend their concessions to enable them to expand their services. Specific details had not been published at the time.

Under the proposals, E-Networks’ licence will be adjusted to grant the ISP permission to land, install and operate a fibre-optic submarine cable that will connect Guyana and Suriname for the provision of redundant connectivity. Similarly, Digicel’s licence will be amended to allow the provider to operate a submarine cable connecting Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, which it has already been authorised to land and install. The amendment also proposes the allocation of additional spectrum to the cellco for the provision of mobile backhaul within Guyana, and for cross-border communications with Brazil and Suriname. Finally, the proposed amendment to GTT’s licence also includes the provision of extra spectrum for backhaul, as well as additional airwaves in the 900MHz band (896.4MHz-902.2MHz/941.4MHz-947.2MHz). GTT is also set to be granted further numbering resources.

Regarding the licensing of ISPs, meanwhile, the exemption order establishes a new classification of provider, a ‘small internet service provider’, defining it as a company that does not operate a facility that would require a licence under Section 23(9) or Section 30(10) of the Telecommunications Act (i.e. the exemption does not apply to companies that plan to operate international cable or radio links). The order exempts small ISPs from the requirement to obtain an individual licence, or any other licence that would be required by the Act, but the companies are still subject to all other obligations covered by the Act. Notably, however, the exemption does not automatically apply to eligible firms and companies must complete a written registration with the Telecommunications Agency to benefit from the order. The exemption order is set to remain in effect for one year.

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