The Pros and Cons of Guyana’s telecoms liberalisation

hose who are regular readers of ICT Pulse, and our news roundup in particular, would be aware that over the past few years, Guyana has been eager to liberalise its telecoms sector. Currently, only the mobile/cellular and local Internet Service Provision (ISP) markets have competition. Other key segments, such as fixed telephony and international voice and data transmission, are controlled by the incumbent carrier, the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT) (Source: TeleGeography).

For a broad range of reasons that  included legal challenges and a change of government, the promulgation of Guyana’s new Telecommunications Act, which would facilitate the liberalisation process, the introduction of competition and a suitable regulatory framework, has been a highly protracted process over several years. However, with the Act now passed, the Government of Guyana appears to be moving with some alacrity to negotiate with the GTT for the end of the latter’s exclusive licensing arrangement – as there are several disadvantages that can be overcome and benefits that can be realised (some of which are outlined below) in having a more competitive environment.

Telecoms sector is underdeveloped

Unlike most Caribbean countries, which moved from exclusive monopolies to inviting competition in their telecoms sector in the early to mid-2000s, Guyana is just beginning that process. It therefore means that in comparison to other countries across the region, its sector is underdeveloped, as the legal and regulatory frameworks to properly support competition – including the issuance of new licences and the introduction of the latest technologies – have been delayed. For example, and according to TeleGeography, Guyana “is one of the fewer than ten nations [globally] that still do not have access to 3G or 4G technologies. Others on that list include Tuvalu, Eritrea, Palestinian Territory, Cuba (a 3G platform is available, but only to roaming visitors), St Pierre & Miquelon and Wallis & Fortuna”.