The island of Guam has had a mixed relationship with the New GTA since the private company took over the telephone agency’s operations on Jan. 1.

Initially the island welcomed with open arms a company that paid the government of Guam $150 million and promised to hold rates steady for five years and pay all its employees a hefty bonus. The agency arrived on island talking of new offerings and an all-improved service.

GTA has improved a number of basic services for consumers already.

Better yet with GTA’s introduction of cell phones and long-distance services the spirit of competition — never a bad thing for consumers — is in the air.

However as the Journal’s Front Page story shows so are rate increases.

Initial charges for gross receipts tax were deemed unacceptable by the Public Utilities Commission because GTA did not have those increases approved by the commission.

But if you look at your phone bill you will see once again a 4% GRT rate appearing.

GRT will also be applied retroactive to Jan. 1.

Similarly many consumers may be unaware that phone service lost to prepaid IT&E and GuamCell customers for days in mid-March was caused by GTA in a fracas over billing.

GTA’s applying of access charges for the first time for long-distance connections will eventually mean higher prices for prepaid card and cellular customers.

Although telecom companies cannot yet say whether that cost will be passed on to consumers.

A lot will depend on whether the sale of services to telecom companies by GTA is eventually regarded as wholesale or retail. This may take the legislature to step in and ensure end consumers aren’t paying compound GRT.

While GTA may be perfectly legitimately passing on gross receipts tax at present and it may have acted with right on its side to apply access charges for cellular and prepaid long-distance charges that its competitors have always escaped — in March it was Guam’s consumers that suffered.

How does the company justify cutting off phone services without warning?

What we have here is semantics. While costs of services have not gone up brand-new and unexpected charges have been applied. If it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck … then it is a duck even if it’s called GRT.