Fmr Parliamentarian cautions GTT, Digicel against hiking costs with 4G service

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A former Parliamentarian has indicated that assurances were given by top officials of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) and Digicel Guyana that no increase in cost to consumers would accompany the introduction of Fourth Generation mobile telecommunications technology (4G). The former member who served on a Special Select Committee that was tasked with reviewing the Telecommunication and Public Utilities Bills is adamant that this promise must be kept.

Both companies over the weekend indicated 4G service would soon be available on their networks. This comes in wake of approval being granted by government for the provision of this service.

James Bond
James Bond

While neither of the companies has signaled that customers would be expected to pay more for the upgrade in service, former A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Parliamentarian, James Bond, said in a Facebook post on Monday, that if this should be done, he would publicly “call out” the two service providers.

“Whilst sitting in the Special Select Parliamentary Committee reviewing the Telecommunication and Public Utilities Bills during my stint as a Member of Parliament we enquired of the consultants/ experts whether the introduction of 4G would mean a greater cost on the consumer. The answer was an emphatic NO! 4G delivery costs the wireless providers less than 3G deliver though it’s 10 times faster,” Bond stated.

In an invited comment, Bond told NewsNow that former Chief Executive Officers (CEOs); Gregory Dean, of Digicel Guyana, and R.K Sharma of GTT, were among those who made it clear that an upgrade to 4G service would not come at a higher cost to customers.

“If Digicel and GTT seek to exploit Guyanese customers, something they have done so often in the past, I will be the first to call them out publicly. They should be honest with us. For years they have benefited from 2/3G, it’s time the customers share in that windfall that is 4G,” Bond said.

In a press release Friday, GTT said customers will enjoy a new and exciting experience with the roll out of the 4G service, giving them the opportunity to “Do More” with faster speeds. CEO Justin Nedd said, “Finally, we will bring you 4G. I know that you’ve waited a long time and I am as happy as you to say that we have received approval from the Government.”

Speaking at Digicel Guyana’s Sales and Distribution Awards ceremony held on Saturday at the Marriott Hotel, CEO Kevin Kelly said the service is expected to be rolled out in time for Guyana’s 50th Independence celebrations.

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes is already on record as saying liberalization of the telecoms sector is vital to lower rates. “There has to be telecommunications liberalization. We will be unable to be competitive without it. The rates in Guyana for enterprise level/high end connectivity continue to be among the highest in the Caribbean. That is impossible to work with. It is only competition that will address that state of affairs,” she has stated.

Meanwhile, the long-awaited Telecommunications Bill is expected to be tabled in the National Assembly by the end of May 2016.

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