Digicel to take Suriname regulator to court over severed data link with Guyana

By INEWS GUYANA

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Chairman and founder of the Irish-based telecommunications company, Digicel, Denis O’Brien 

(INEWS GUYANA) — Digicel has launched legal proceedings against Surinamese regulator, Telecommunications Authority Suriname (TAS) over the shutdown of its trans-border link which has since been disrupting the company’s services to Guyana.

This was confirmed by a senior official at the company who revealed that the matter is engaging the attention of the company’s legal team.

It was reported that TAS shutdown the allegedly illegal microwave link, which Digicel used to feed data capacity to its unit in Guyana.

According to a report from the Irish Times however, Digicel’s owner, Denis Obrien refuted claims of illegalities and in a comment to that publication said “Digicel disputes any allegations of illegality and as the matter is currently before the court, we are unable to comment any further at this time.”

It is understood that Digicel is seeking an injunction to force TAS to reverse its actions.

As as direct result of the shutdown, significant data outages have since been experienced countrywide by Digicel’s customers.

The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT) company, which still has a monopoly over the telecommunications sector, had long complained that it’s competitor Digicel should be buying its data capacity from them instead of feeding it from over the border.

GTT had estimated their losses from the bypass link that Digicel was reportedly using from Suriname to be millions of US dollars.

GTT is currently the only company in Guyana with an underwater fibre-optic cable, though another local company is reportedly interested in landing a cable of its own.

This gives GTT, whose parent company is United States (US) based Atlantic Tele-Network International (ATNI), the capacity to supply connectivity and Internet throughout Guyana.

GTT’s CEO Justin Nedd had recently shied away from suggestions his company had a hand in their competitor’s dilemma.

“I do know that they have been working with the operators in Suriname to ensure operations are done in an above-board manner. The Surinamese regulators are doing their job. It’s not unusual for operators and regulators to communicate, but with respect to how they execute their mandate, that’s within their purview.”

Though admitting that GTT has complained about the trans-border link to the Guyana Government, Nedd said that no legal actions were threatened to Digicel from GTT.

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