Guyana, a small country with about 780,000 inhabitants, is the only English-speaking nation in South America. Although GDP per capita is among the lowest in the region, GDP growth has been impressive in recent years and economic growth projections to 2015 are encouraging.
Guyana’s fixed-line teledensity is above average for Latin America and much higher than would be expected given the country’s poor economic indicators. Mobile and broadband penetration, however, are well below the regional average.
Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T), controlled by Atlantic Tele-Network Ltd (ATN), has a monopoly over fixed-line services, but it competes with Digicel in the mobile market.
GT&T’s fixed-line monopoly was renewed for 20 years in December 2010, but before renewing it the government drafted a new Telecommunications Reform bill aimed at opening the telecom sector to competition. The bill was submitted in October 2010 to GT&T and Digicel for their comments, but was abandoned in September 2011 shortly before the national elections.
The new government continues to negotiate telecom reform with GT&T and Digicel, asserting that the international voice and data market will be liberalised in the near future, though no schedule has been set and the outcome remains uncertain.
GT&T’s exclusivity does not extend to the broadband retail market, but the company is the only DSL operator, and the only competition comes from fixed-wireless broadband providers. Mobile companies have not yet launched mobile broadband in Guyana and therefore that option remains unavailable.
Although fixed broadband services have improved, especially since the opening of the SG-SCS submarine cable in mid-2010, they are still comparatively slow and expensive, and the number of broadband subscribers is small.
In the mobile sector, GT&T’s mobile unit, Cellink, competes with Digicel Guyana for market share. Both companies operate GSM/GPRS networks.
- The government of Guyana sold its 20% stake in GT&T to Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group, a Chinese state-owned company.
- Guyana’s delayed cable system, linking Georgetown with Lethem in Brazil, includes 560km of fibre-optic cable and a National Data centre.
- Under its One Laptop per Family (OLPF) scheme, the government has distributed more than 11,000 laptops thus far, with some 70,000 laptops in the program.
- GT&T blocks internet access for cybercafés that use third party applications for VoIP services.
- GT&T launched a Mobile Money service in 2013, allowing customers to use their handsets to make financial transactions. The company signed agreements with several utility companies to receive bill payments through the system. In late 2013 Guyana Water signed on to the service, enabling customers to pay water bills using their mobile phones.
- In 2013 GT&T rolled out a WiFi service across the University of Guyana campus
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