According to a press release from Digicel, the people of Guyana are tired of poor, unreliable broadband services and remote communities not being able to realise the dream of modern communications in their homes and are fed up of limited choice and not having the benefits of true competition.
Those are the conclusions of a Change.org petition calling for the liberalisation of the telecoms sector in Guyana which has been gaining a lot of attention online boasting over 4,000 signatures to date. The petition will be sent to all political parties contesting the elections by 8th February.
Not only is the #LiberalisationNOW Change.org petition racking up new signatures daily, the accompanying campaign video on YouTube has gained over 52,000 views and the campaign Facebook page has 2086 followers with campaign posts having a reach of 654,990 since the start of campaign. There are 16,725engagements on the Facebook page with people actively commenting and sharing posts to show their support for breaking the monopoly and liberalising the telecom industry.
The change that the people of Guyana are demanding is long overdue. After three decades locked into a telecom monopoly, Guyanese suffer from:
Poor choice of services – Guyanese have been left with an extremely limited choice of services. Meanwhile, other operators are being held back from offering the better services they are ready and willing to provide.
Poor broadband coverage – a shameful 90% of Guyanese still have no access to broadband services at home.
Poor quality of services – even when they do have access to services, speeds are slow and unreliable.
Poor response time – any issues are resolved at a snail’s pace.
These factors have combined to give Guyana the worst service in the Caribbean. With the legislation ending the telephone monopoly passed over three years ago by Parliament in July 2016 and assented to by the President, today there is still no progress since the legislation has not been made law. This requires the issuance of a commencement order by the Minister. With Guyana stuck in the telecoms dark ages, liberalisation must happen immediately to give Guyana the internet it deserves.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. Bringing Guyana’s communications into the 21st century won’t just improve lives; it’s essential to developing the economy – especially now that oil production has begun with the first million barrels recently sold. As things stand, Guyana’s communication services are nowhere near ready to take full advantage of this development.
The country is a long way from achieving the universal landline coverage it was promised when the monopoly went into effect almost three decades ago. With a commitment to have telephone service in the home of every Guyanese, today less than 120,000 subscribers have been provided with what is at best a mediocre service.
If landline service has long been underwhelming, Guyana’s broadband service is even worse. Fibre optic service can be found in limited pockets in Georgetown and some surrounding communities, while DSL has slowly crept across the country on poorly maintained copper networks. It’s simply not good enough.
Gregory Dean, CEO of Digicel Guyana, welcomed the petition commenting; “The response to the petition clearly shows that Guyanese are sick of being left behind and missing out on the opportunities that come with a digital economy.”
“Guyanese are calling on all our leaders to take the necessary steps to eliminate the monopoly immediately and liberalise our telecommunications market so that other companies can roll out the services that Guyanese have waited far too long for. I encourage everyone to get on board with this movement by signing the petition before February 8th and show that the will of the people cannot be denied.”
“Guyanese deserve better. Efforts to end the monopoly have been ongoing for over 20 years. There is no time like the present to end the monopoly. We need liberalisation now.”