GUYANA Telephone & Telegraph Company (GT&T), yesterday, announced a major development programme for 2013 which includes a mobile money service, where ‘the phone can now become your wallet’,
as well as blanket Wi-Fi coverage at the University of Guyana (UG) at a subsidised cost.
At a media brunch Acting Chief Financial Officer, (CFO) Ms. Sonita Jagan highlighted the sterling achievements of the company in 2012 and disclosed the activities that Guyana and Guyanese consumers will enjoy in the new year.
Among those present at the occasion were Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Major General (ret’d) Joseph Singh; Director of Customer Services, Ms. Pamela Briggs; Marketing Manager, Mrs. Fay Wharton and Public Relations Officer, Ms. Nadia D’Abreu.
Jagan said the company will be looking to continue developing telecommunication from a GT&T prospective, and that is, to provide the best possible service at the best value.
She said the company has concentrated on that since the commencement of its operations in Guyana and will continue to do so by keeping apace with technology.
The introduction of ‘g pond’ to Guyana will see, within the first quarter, it being installed in homes in the West Bank Demerara villages of Bagotville, La Grange and Nismes.
This technology will see the installation of fibre optic technology in homes with voice and data, through the connection of two telephones and allowance for a data connection for high speed Internet.
That will replace the fixed wireless system which has now become outdated, she explained, stating that the pilot project will be expanded to Canal Polder Numbers One and Two.
Jagan said the fixed wireless network did not cater for the expansion of the upgraded high speed data service which prompted its replacement.
The works which have been started will cost the company between US$4.5 and US$5M and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2013.
The project is also expected to include Tuschen and other areas in Essequibo and Berbice over the next year or two.
She said the company had, initially, sought to replace the existing wireless system in all Guyana but the inability to secure spectrum at the time denied the process.
Alternative ways of providing the upgraded service was sought and thus the replacing by use of fibre optic cable was introduced, Jagan explained.
She said the company excitingly awaits the availability of the spectrum to provide all its customers with the necessary high speed service.
Pointing out that the use of cellular phones has exceeded that of land lines, Jagan said, as such, the need for upgrading the network was done in respect to the service and needs demanded.
Upgrading of all network equipment will also be done in the year as the spectrum is expected and this will bring all the operations to a high standard in the Internet Protocol (IP) side of business, she stated.
Jagan said the old system is now outdated and the need to upgrade to new technology and gateway is needed as new spectrum is anticipated.
Georgetown, New Amsterdam and core business areas will be able to access the Long Term Evolution (LTE) in expectation of the new spectrum to be upgraded.
The changing of the entire international gateway will also be upgraded to all new technology with the rest of the world in Internet protocol gateways.
Development will now be focused on education and the big project which commenced at the University of Guyana Turkeyen and Tain campuses will now see more improvements.
At Turkeyen, the entire campus and its surroundings, including the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) will benefit from high speed Internet connection which will be subsidised by the company for the students and surrounds the two education facilities.
This service is expected to be in operation within a few days’ time, since the new year’s semester is to commence on January 28.
“We’re hoping that this service will come in with the opening of the new university term on January 28. We’ve been working on it for the last few months and we’re actually hoping to roll out a high speed data Wi-Fi system over the entire UG campus (Turkeyen). It will probably extend to the borders of UG as well so we’re hoping that Cyril Potter (College of Education) will also be covered,” Jagan said.
“We will subsidise it to the extent that we’ll charge probably around $100 an hour so it will be very affordable for students with the ability to have access to good download speeds and upload speeds wherever they are on campus,” she added.
A similar high speed Internet service is also to benefit the Berbice, Tain Campus and would see similar facilities at the Providence National Stadium, East Bank Demerara.
This was done to maximum areas where people congregate, since allowed data speed could not be increased on the cellular due to the unavailability of the spectrum, and it is more expensive on the cellular. As such, the subsidy intervention was the solution at mass gatherings.
Consideration is also being given to the Stabroek Market area, another place with usually large congregations.
Mentioning the electricity supply, Jagan said the partnership between GT&T and Guyana Power & Light (GPL), in having the fibre optic cable across the Demerara River and the reliable electrical current supplied to the new and existing areas in the West Demerara has prompted the undertaking of the pilot project.
She said the former systems in telecommunication permitted more of the service to come from the exchange but, today, the service by way of fibre and cellular is preferred over the landline operation.
Increasing the excitement will see the mobile money service coming on stream. This, Jagan said, would facilitate customers to deposit cash into their mobile phones, a system similar to the ATM activity, and allow for payments and cash out at vendor service booths.
The payments could be made for utility services such as Guyana Water Inc., GT&T and GPL, among others.
She said this service has been used in North America, Asia and more parts of the world and has proven efficient and safe.
It has brought the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) as a partner to the operations, and will get the approval from Bank of Guyana and the Government.
In the areas where there are no banks, and financial lending agencies are unavailable, the cellular instrument could be used to transfer the cash for developing small businesses and the phone can now become your wallet.
The system, she remarked, is extremely secure, where a pin number code will be required for the security operation, similar to the ATM card where registration and all the required information must be filled.
That would facilitate a direct online money transfer arrangement and it is anticipated that persons in the gold mining industry would take advantage of it.
She said, for example, if persons in Mahdia can now send cash to mobile phones and transfer direct to family at home, they can now go to a cash out agent and receive money on the transaction.
A similar cost or lower will be charged for each transaction as is done with the local and international money transfer services.
The second phase of this service would, shortly, allow international transfers.
Remote cellular sites will now be launched at Annai and Kurupukari and this is expected to take additional services to the villages and surroundings and add more customers to the network.
Another five sites will follow by the end of 2013, she said.
Jagan told the gathering: “It is our hope to take technology as far as we can in Guyana…and the remote areas are not being bypassed but will remain in the company’s development plan.”
Data Imagine service now reaches Skeldon, Corentyne, Berbice, as the entire coastal plain has full access to high speed Internet and the fibre optic cable will be installed across the Berbice River.