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Digicel and LaqTel up and running by December

Saturday, October 8 2005


THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) disclosed that Irish telecom company Digicel and local telecom outfit LaqTel should be providing cellular phone services to the people of TT by December, and TATT will ensure that TSTT and these two companies do all within their power to achieve this target.


Speaking at a news conference at TATTís San Juan headquarters yesterday, TATT chairman Khalid Hassanali said Public Administration and Information Minister Dr Lenny Saith has received TATTís recommendations that concessions be awarded to Digicel and LaqTel to provide mobile phone services to the population.


On Tuesday, Saith told Newsday that he is considering the concessions, and should be taking a note to Cabinet soon, and expects Cabinet to make a decision on the matter within the next two weeks.


Noting that the Telecommunications Act 2001 gives the minister 60 days to make a decision on the recommendations, Hassanali said Saith is handling the matter with dispatch and should make a decision within the 60-day period outlined by the Act. The TATT chairman said this could mean that concessions to Digicel and LaqTel could be awarded by the end of November, and both companies could begin providing services to the population by December.


Hassanali said the other side of the coin involved inter-connection agreements being reached between Digicel and LaqTel, with TSTT to operationalise the formerís cellular phone networks.


While admitting that the process was taking a little longer than TATT would like, Hassanali explained that the authority would deal with any of the three parties should they delay in meeting the target set by TATT for Digicel and LaqTel to have their networks operational on or around December.


Predicting that the local telecom market would begin to churn by December, Hassanali added that the three mobile phone entities in question would be tried in the court of public opinion.


Hassanali also announced that Saith had received recommendations for five new international telecommunications network and service providers and three subscription-based broadcast service providers have been forwarded to Saith. The authority has also received applications for 33 free-to-air radio broadcasters, six free-to-air television broadcasters and 114 international call centre operators and Internet Service Providers. Hassanali said evaluations for these applications were underway and recommendations for concessions would be made to Saith shortly. TATT executive director, Dr John Prince, said he did not know if the new cable news station, CNC3, was one of the free-to-air television broadcasters mentioned by Hassanali.

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