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By Svetlana Marshall
Canje Tel, a Guyanese backed company, has secured US$200M to land a subsea fibre-optic cable here in Guyana with the aim of tapping into Guyana’s Oil and Gas Industry while providing much needed internet service to unserved communities across the country, it’s Chief Executive Officer, Adrian Forrester said on Saturday.
Registered last October, the company has applied to the Telecommunications Agency for an Individual Telecommunications License under the Telecommunications Act.
In an interview with Village Voice News, Forrester said the application was filed last November, and once approved, Canje Tel intends to commence operation in 2024, however, he said this is dependent upon the pace at which the application is processed.
He said already, Canje Tel has secured the support of the HARCON Group, from Trinidad and Tobago, with a commitment of US$200M for inward investment into the telecommunications landscape of Guyana.
Forrester said US$200M will fund its subsea fibre-optic cable project, which will serve both the Oil and Gas Sector as well as some 30 unserved communities, particularly those in the Hinterland.
“We intend to provide enterprise bandwidth to the FPSO platforms…For all oil and gas majors as they require,” he told Village Voice News.
According to him, for too long Guyanese, and companies and businesses operating here have had to endure poor telecommunication services at a high cost. Faced with exorbitant prices and poor services, Forrester said a group of Guyanese businessmen opted to establish Canje Tel.
“We know and understand the foundation of telecommunications is when you control the bandwidth and to be able to compete with these other companies, we had to be in a position where we can bring our own bandwidth and to have control to make our business happen,” the CEO said.
He posited that Canje Tel intends to compete seriously with the other telecommunication providers, with the anticipation that they will either up their game or bow out of the industry.
Forrester disclosed that the subsea fibre-optic cable will land in the Village of Now or Never on the East Coast of Demerara in Mahaicony.
“It is actually being connected mid-Atlantic, so it will connect to another cable that is in the middle of the ocean, however, our traffic will be linked straight to New York but it will land at Now or Never, East Coast Demerara, Mahaicony,” he further explained.
Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, in his recent budget presentation to the National Assembly, said the move to liberalise the telecommunications sector will stimulate greater competition and investments which will expand the sector and the range of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) services available to the population. The move, he said, will also reduce the costs of various services to consumers and will allow for more fibre optic cables to be landed in Guyana.
“In fact, Guyanese have already benefited tangibly from lower rates and special promotions for data plans, while some operators have committed to major technology upgrades. At least one regional company has also advised of plans to locate all of their customer care operations in Guyana with the possibility of piloting cutting edge technology. Going forward, it is expected that liberalisation will result in significant interest in private investment in the sector,” Dr. Singh said.
Notably, this year, the Government is expected to establish the Universality Fund, a feature of the new telecommunications regulatory regime, through which access to modern telecommunications services can be funded, particularly for poor and vulnerable communities including those in our hinterland regions.
The Telecommunications Act and regulations provide for contributions to this fund from operators, and a minimum of $360M is expected to be injected this ear.