Guyana’s telecommunications sector will most likely become fully liberalised by the end of July, according to the Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes.
The Minister explained that she cannot provide a drop-dead date for the completion of the initiative but assured that the government is working assiduously to ensure the sector is completely liberalised in the coming month.
“I’ve put a very ambitious date to the end of July and I am saying if we miss it, it’s going to be as close as we can to that,” Hughes told reporters after the swearing in of the newest Chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) at State House today (June 21, 2017).
She explained that her Ministry is in the process of merging the National Frequency Management Unit and the country’s first Telecommunications Agency as well as conducting negotiations with the Guyana Telephone Telegraph (GTT) Company and Atlantic Tele-Network (ATN) with the aim of ending GTT’s claim to a monopoly over international voice and data transmissions and domestic wireline service.
“The legislation was passed in August last year, the President has assented to the legislation and there are two things that are happening at the same time. We’ve had to have a consultant look at the whole process of spectrum management pricing because remember the National Frequency Management Unit now comes under this new telecoms agency, we’re looking at the structure of that agency, the skills that are going to be required and how we are going to be able to merge a frequency management unit … at the same time the negotiations with Atlantic Tele-Network (ATN) and the Guyana Telephone Telegraph (GTT) are going ahead, almost like two tracks at the same time,” the Minister stated.
The Telecommunications Bill, which was first introduced in 2011, paves the way for an opened and competitive telecoms sector which would be attractive to investors.
Meanwhile, the new Chairperson of the PUC is Attorney – at – Law, Dela Britton and among her top priorities is to retool the regulator agency in preparation of the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector.
“The Commission, as I said, has to be retooled and being retooled means that we have to have the necessary personnel to assist in that regard,” Britton told reporters after she took the Oath of Office before President, David Granger.
Britton, who had served as a PUC Commissioner, has assumed leadership of the body following the retirement of Justice Prem Persaud – who had served as PUC Chairman for close to 20 years.
The PUC was established in October 1990 and its functions are regulatory, investigatory, enforcement and such others as conferred on it by the Act. The Commission also has the power to initiate and conduct investigations into the operations and standards of service of any public utilities under its purview.