Having missed the 2018 year-end deadline for the complete liberalisation of the public telecommunications sector, Government has inked a “non-binding” agreement with the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT).
The company, owned by US-based Atlantic Tele-Network (ATN), has been held the monopoly over the local telecommunications market for more than 20 years.
In a joint statement from the Public Telecommunications Ministry and GTT, it was noted that while the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is non-binding, the signing nevertheless represents a major step toward fully liberalising Guyana’s telecommunications market.
In fact, it was noted that the parties have further agreed to continue discussions on all outstanding issues with the objective of eventually reaching a binding agreement.
“After many years of delays, this Government has brought the country one step closer to achieving a fully open telecommunications market. While more work needs to be done, the Government is committed to continuing discussions and completing the process of liberalization for the citizens of Guyana,” Telecommunications Minister, Catherine Hughes, stated in the press release.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the local telecommunications giant, Justin Nedd, said he is “very pleased we have reached this milestone.”
He added, “GTT fully supports an open and transparent telecommunications market in Guyana and the opportunities it will provide for Guyana’s citizens and our customers. We look forward to further discussions with the Government to reach an agreement on the issues that remain outstanding.”
The liberalisation of the sector is heavily dependent on the settlement of a US$44 million tax claim against GTT.
Presently, there are two telephone companies which provide mobile phone services to the Guyanese public.
However, the company continues to enjoy the monopoly in international voice and data services until 2030.
In January of 2018, it was reported that negotiations with the GTT and the Ministry to address the lifting of the monopoly were effective. These negotiations began in 2016 with the intention of ending the 26-year-old monopoly on the fixed line market.
The liberalisation, once in place, would ensure there is fair competition and regulation among all enterprises in the business sector.