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A new law opening up Guatemala’s state-owned telecommunications industry to international competition will take effect in November, a congressman said. The Guatemalan Telecommunications Co, Guatel, does not have the millions of dollars it needs to keep up with an unsatisfied demand for more than 1million telephone lines. Under the current system, Guatemalans pay for a new line and then wait up to 18 months for installation. As passed, the law creates a Superintendency of Communications which will be named by the Communications Minister and will be funded by a percentage of income of all businesses in the industry. The superintendency will also manage a fund to subsidize phone lines to remote areas. The proposed law doesn’t set a maximum foreig n ownership of the telecommunications industry in Guatemala. Minimum investment amounts will be set for each individual frequency or region opened up for bidding.

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