Guyana still in talks about the opening of its telecom market

Background

Guyana, a small country with about 780,000 inhabitants, is the only English-speaking nation in South America. Its development has been hampered by political/ethnic polarisation, and GDP per capita is one of the lowest in the region. Economic growth projections, however, 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.

Liberalisation efforts

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 in December 2010, but before renewing it, the government drafted a new Telecommunications 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 is again negotiating a telecom bill with GT&T and Digicel; President Donald Ramotar has given his assurance that the international voice and data market will be liberalised in the near future, but no schedule has been set and the outcome remains uncertain.

Broadband market

GT&T’s exclusivity did 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.

Mobile market

In the mobile sector, GT&T’s mobile unit, Cellink, competes neck-and-neck with Digicel Guyana for market share. Both companies operate GSM/GPRS networks. Uncharacteristically for Latin America, Guyana’s mobile market seems to have stopped growing. In 2011, GT&T’s customer base was down by 11%, reportedly due to the company cancelling subscribers engaged in illegal bypass activities.

Guyana’s fixed-line, broadband, and mobile statistics – 2010 – 2012

Sector

2010

2011

2012 (e)

Fixed-lines in service
Total subscribers

150,000

152,000

154,000

Broadband
Total subscribers

11,000

19,000

28,000

Mobile telephony subscribers
Total subscribers

595,300

577,000

570,000

(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)

Market highlights:

  • The government of Guyana has sold its 20% stake in GT&T to Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group, a Chinese state-owned company.
  • Guyana’s new cable system, linking Georgetown with Lethem in Brazil, includes 560Km of fibre-optic cable and a National Data centre, which is expected to commence operations in early 2013.
  • Under its One Laptop per Family (OLPF) scheme, the government has distributed more than 11,000 laptops.
  • GT&T blocks internet access for cybercafés that use third party applications for VoIP services.

BuddeComm’s yearly update of Guyana – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications market of Guyana, including industry and operator data up to the end of 2011 and estimates for 2012.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see:

Guyana – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

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