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Digicel signs interconnection with Telesur

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Digicel was awarded a license to operate by the local government in April and has spent the last few months negotiating with Telesur.

"We are delighted to at last sign this interconnection agreement with Telesur and applaud the commitment of [telecoms authority] TAS who fully supervised discussions during the past week," Digicel Suriname's CEO Philip van Dalsen said.

Van Dalsen said both parties had agreed that Digicel Suriname would order and deliver the equipment needed to prepare the Telesur network to establish interconnection.

"Because of our good relationship with our suppliers, we are confident the equipment will arrive in Suriname within a few days so people don't have to wait any longer," van Dalsen said.

Once Digicel's and Telesur's networks are physically interconnected a testing period will start, which will last approximately 10 days.

Digicel Suriname is employing some 150 Surinamese staff directly and estimates that an additional 1,000 jobs have been created through its dealerships and partners.

Interconnection

The agreement by both parties for Digicel to take charge of the equipment supply is likely to come as a relief to the operator given the delays the company encountered in starting operations in Trinidad & Tobago (T&T).

Digicel and T&T incumbent TSTT have been locked in a legal dispute since Digicel entered the market in mid-2005. Digicel originally planned to start operations before the end of 2005 but TSTT did not receive interconnection equipment until early 2006 and Digicel also ended up buying equipment to ensure interconnection.

Despite being physically interconnected since March 2006, the parties have been unable to reach a final agreement regarding interconnection rates and spurred the telecoms regulator TATT to set up an arbitration panel as an intermediary.

Jan Tjernell, Digicel Group general counsel, told BNamericas that since entering the Caribbean market in 2001, in Jamaica, the company has become quite adept at brokering interconnection agreements, though when operators want to "muddy the waters" for the regulator they can make it hard.

"We're not afraid to go to court, but it's not the objective," Tjernell said.

Van Dalsen said, "the negotiations were tough, but successful."

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Tags: digicel  digicel group  tstt  interconnection  caribbean  Suriname