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GT&T rolls out new cellular site in Rupununi

MP Sydney Allicock (centre) poses with a group of dancers after the site was commisioned on Saturday

by Alva Solomon

Telecoms company Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) on Saturday commissioned its Aranaputa, North Rupununi cellular site and informed of plans to strengthen communications along the Linden/Lethem trail .

At a simple commissioning   ceremony at Aranaputa Valley today, company CEO RK Sharma stated that the event will see a special bond being forged between the entity and residents of the area as the event reflected the transformative nature of life in the community.

He said that rural phone service is at the heart of a success as regards agricultural and human development and he described it as being essential to economic growth and poverty alleviation. He stated that with the advent expansion of it’s the mobile phone service, GT&T believes that this will stimulate development of small farmers and rural producers.

According to Sharma, GT&T considers the Linden/Lethem Trail a vital link to the future of Guyana’s commercial and economical development. He said as part of its plans, the company has continually zeroed in on the importance of improved voice and data communications. In the regions south of the capital, notwithstanding the high cost attached, the entity has established sites at Wisroc, Mabura, and Lethem. Sharma announced that works are in the advanced stages for a similar site at the Kurupukari Crossing.

As regards the Aranaputa site, Sharma said that it was deployed given the recognition that the North Rupununi was insufficiently served by rural phone booth services and he noted that the area serves as a hub, for educational, health and other matters.

“This facility will no doubt have a transformative effect on the lives of many, both in a manner we conduct business and also our social relations”, he said. In this context, he mentioned the importance of the mobile services, including the recently launched Mobile Money service.

Toshao of the Aranaputa Valley, Mark George stated that the community welcomed the move by the telephone company and he noted that the residents of the area will make use of the service which he emphasised is vital to the area. He cautioned, however, that it could have positive and also negative impacts as he expressed optimism that the latter will not occur.

Former CEO of GT&T, Major General (Re’t) Joe Singh, who was instrumental in the facility becoming a reality, said that he was relieved that mobile phone service was brought to the area. In an invited comment at the site, he stressed the transformational effect that the move will have on the communities in the region as well as neighbouring regions and areas across the border in Brazil and Venezuela. Singh hoped that the young people in the area will be inspired by the service, mainly in the areas of educational use as well as the use of the social networks.

According to GT&T, the erection of the site at Aranaputa plans came to age this year, several months after surveys were conducted for the area. The tower stands 350 feet , with GSM antennas mounted all the way to its top and has been built in the in the 900mgz spectrum. There is dual generation of power and transmission backhaul is done via satellite. The mountainous terrain is the only factor which could hamper communications to certain areas.

Nursery school teacher, Zeta Jacobus , said that after purchasing her first phone today , she will be able to communicate easily with her family .She said that being a teacher at Wowetta , a village located 12 miles away from Aranaputa , GT&T has eased the burden of riding by horse , driving or using the High Frequency (HF) radios in order to reach her children and other family member at her home in Aranaputa.

Judith Moses, a resident of a nearby community also expressed appreciation to the phone company, noting that she has a son who is studying in Cuba and maintaining communication with him has been difficult .She said GT&T will bridge the gap between her and her son.

Meantime, Sharma stated that the entity has been engaging the government on spectrum allocation which he noted is important regarding plans to upgrade sites .He said the company has publicly stated that it welcomes liberalization of the sector since it is integral towards the development of the country. He said however that, “liberalisation needs to be done in an orderly structured manner so phased that it reflects transparency and from our perspective, a recognition of and respect for contractual rights and obligations”.