Connecting Georgetown

The liberalisation of Guyana's telecommunications industry.

For decades, Guyana has been reluctant to open the country’s telecoms sector to multinationals. Times are changing. In February of this year, Georgetown licensed its third mobile operator and although the 2016 Telecommunications Act (brought into force in 2020) set out a framework for enabling competition across all segments of the telecommunications sector in Guyana, the mobile market has in effect been open to competition since 2001. The problem is “open” is in name only, national operators GTT+ and Digicel Guyana continue to dominate the sector.

A former senior official at a local telecoms authority explained, “It is still too early to tell if there will be liberalisation. The stability of the infrastructure will be more important to most people than the fact that it is a liberalised environment. I think the service needs to be improved especially for knowledge-based industries and especially for BPOs, call centres and so on, especially with Guyana becoming a meaningful oil and gas player.”

“It is still too early to tell if there will be liberalisation. The stability of the infrastructure will be more important to most people than the fact that it is a liberalised environment.”

Senior official, telecommunications authority, Guyana

Certainly, the stability and the quality of telecoms infrastructure needs to be substantially improved if it is going to effectively attract much-needed foreign investment and participation. “Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (“GT&T”) is the major incumbent. It has been around for a very long time and it held a monopoly until last year. Digicel has also been around for some time and between the two of them, they command the cellular market, its either 55-45 one way or the other,” explains the former senior official.

“Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (“GT&T”) is the major incumbent. It has been around for a very long time and it held a monopoly until last year. Digicel has also been around for some time and between the two of them, they command the cellular market, its either 55-45 one way or the other.”

Former senior official, Guyana

E-networks started in the cable television space but the new legislation has allowed them to ramp up other services as well. Today, there are three significant telecoms players in Guyana: GT&T, Digicel and E-networks. All three provide Triple Play Services and ISP services and are expanding their services in line with other regional telecommunications companies.

The former telecoms official continued, “Liberalisation creates the opportunity for a more competitive market. When the legislation first initially passed in Parliament about 2017/2018, they had some issues to work out with GTT. After this, we started to get a lot of interest from international companies looking to come into the market and occupy the space.”

A more competitive telecommunications industry should improve services for the benefit of local businesses who will be able to expand their own product and service offerings. With more competitive rates services that were held back by high costs in the past will now become financially viable. However, before you revise up your growth forecasts, naturally, the opening up of the telecoms industry will be a slow process – entrance costs are still high and customers unforgiving.

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