GT&T welcomes liberalisation of the telecommunications sector
THE Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company GT&T said it has always been its intention to invest in the development of the company to ensure modernisation and expansion of the networks and systems which have all been done with a price tag of more than $58M in those capital expansions and programmes.
This is according to Chief Executive Officer of the company, Radha Krishna (RK) Sharma while addressing media operatives at an Annual Media Dinner two Saturdays ago at the Grand Costal Hotel, Le Ressouvenir, East
With the determination of the company to make its mark since its presence in Guyana it has gone through extensive and intense technical development which saw the remarkable increase in its landline service base jumping from 1100 to 154039 subscribers, the deployment of a national fibre optic cable network which is now connecting all major population centres.
The phone company has over the years invested in almost all areas conceivable to ensure that customers receive a more reliable service and this has been a practice since its entrance into the market more than a decade ago.
In 2010 GT&T invested six billion dollars in the Guyana/Suriname Submarine Cable System which now sees the provision of high speed internet access throughout Guyana while in excess of one billion dollars was expended for the upgrading of the Americas 11 cable in the following year-2011.
Still on the issue of expansion and investments, the phone company would have increased its earth station to seven countrywide, moving from one. There was also the launching of the wireless service and the deployment of dozens of cell sites across the country, effectively linking regions and making communication between interior locations and urban areas more possible.
Mr. Sharma told the media that GTT has over the years emphasised the commitment to the economic development of this country and the indisputable track record as a long term proven player in the industry coupled with the intention to continue high levels of investment to the further growth, while deepening and strengthening the telecommunication sector is very much evident.
The CEO stated that GT&T recognises that today’s world sees telecommunication as the vehicle which facilitates Information Communication Technology development and economic growth, hence being the good corporate citizen who takes its responsibilities and obligations seriously does support the government’s efforts to liberalise and strengthen the telecommunications sector in Guyana.
From the beginning of liberalisation talks of the sector, the GT&T and its parent Company Atlantic Tele Network indicated its willingness to cooperate with the Guyana Government to realise the goal to introduce full competition in the provision of telecoms networks and services, the CEO stated.
He went on to explain that the expectations of GT&T were that the new legislation and regulation would reflect a level playing field, the application of the international best practices and a minimum of discretionary decision making. However, such moves must be seen within the context of the respect for the company’s contractual rights as embodied in the company’s existing agreement with the government.
Sharma stated that the company has noted the second draft telecommunications and regulations bill that has been sent to a special select committee and GT&T is anxiously looking forward for the time it will be asked to appear before the committee to contribute to the refinement and improvement of the final act and regulations.
The company does not only want to see development but contribute to it by physically doing its part through infrastructure development with respect to its services and this has resulted in the following: an increase in landline Tele-density from 2.21 in 1991 to 20.35 in 2012. For a clear picture the figures are an increase from 16,000 subscribers to 154.207.
With respect to mobile Tele-density there has been an increase in Guyana from 5.43 to 72.21 and internet use from 2.61% to 34.31% from the years 2000 to 2012.
Hence, with the liberalisation of the sector there are tremendous opportunities as a changing local landscape affords GT&T opportunities to accelerate its planning focus and look at business strategic decisions, inclusive of capital allocations.
The competition will be exciting for the company Sharma stated, pointing to the fact that GT&T already sees itself at a position where the company is a prime player in the ICT arena and uniquely poised in the data, broadband space inclusive of bundled offerings since the company already has the largest existing local access distribution network in the country.
With the existing infrastructure in place by the phone company and more to come on stream, those will be used to increase mobile data access and penetration in urban centres and rural clusters, Sharma added in his address to the media.
The company has already identified several sites and technical coverage studies will soon commence. Given the need for stakeholders support in their missions, critical operational need for broadband is an absolute necessity, hence, the network rollout in the mining areas will not be limited to low capacity GSM sites but rather fixed reliable broadband in addition to mobile voice and data based on the stakeholders’ needs and requirements, it was pointed out.
Already, there is marketing and data studies which are ongoing and based on changing demographics associated with housing developments both private and public, to ensure that designs are done in a state of the art access network using FTTX technology to meet the ever increasing broadband demand and bundled offering requirements that will occur as a result of the shifting demographics.
The company is naturally protective and passionate of its image while seeking to enhance the company’s positioning locally at every opportunity given. In addition, there is constant works being done towards that objective, Sharma stated.
Sharma in reflecting the investments and contribution to Guyana, since the company has been operating here, stated that in excess of $51billion dollars have been remitted to the national treasury. He labelled the phone company as one of the most important companies in the country.
The features of the company as identified by the CEO are customer value, knowledge, management, business organisation, strong management and cost accounting, value for money concepts, purposeful and focused marketing, shareholder value, productivity and transformation.
Success and market dynamics are measured by convergence, new technologies, maturing markets, greater competition, multiple product offerings and the increasing of customers’ expectations the company’s top man related.
(By Leroy Smith)