Guyana Telephone and Telegraph’s (GTT) landline subscribers will from next year have to pay for subscriber call blocking activated services, according to a decision by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
The company said that currently there are 36,368 subscribers who currently use the service free of charge.
The regulator said between now and February 2019 when the rates would take effect, the phone company would have to sensitise subscribers about the impending tariff, implementation date and the options available to them.
After receiving submissions from GTT and the Guyana Consumers Association, the PUC said from February 1, 2019 residential subscribers, who would like to use the Subscriber Activated Call Blocking Service would have to pay GYD$30 per month and businesses GYD$70 per month. GTT had asked the PUC to approve a rate of GYD$310 per month.
“The consumer will have the option of choosing any number of the call blocking features at the tariff as set by the Commission,” the PUC added.
Further, the regulator ruled that if the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) fails, consumers’ accounts are to be credited for the number of days the consumers are unable to access any of the value-added services/features offered by the PSTN.
As it relates to the future investment alluded to by the Company, the GCA noted that the future expense of US$300,000 cannot be considered, since this is future cost and bears no relevance to that application.
GTT had told the Commission the company had initially invested US$190,000 for an array of other value-added features that compliment the wireline fixed service that includes subscriber activated call blocking feature under consideration in this application is included.
Further to this initial cost, GT&T claims it pays a recurring cost of US$250,008 for the maintenance and upkeep of the service. On the question of the annual recurring maintenance cost for USD250,008, the GCA noted thatcharging for a value-added service that is currently being provided will in no way increase the maintenance cost.
In its presentation the company indicated that it was considering a further USD300,000 for theupgrade of this system.
The Guyana Consumer Association (GCA) opposed any imposition of a tariff for this service. It noted the operating cost to the company in continuing the Call Blocking Feature is unlikely to increase. In the circumstances, any tariff approval for this service would represent free cash flow to the company.
The GCA further noted that the asset acquired in the initial investment to provide the value-added services is now fully depreciated.
The advisor to the Guyana GCA is GTT former Chief Executive Officer, Yog Mahadeo.