Norman Dunn (left), state minister, Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, in conversation with Rodney Taylor, new secretary general, Caribbean Telecommunications Union, at the opening ceremony of the Meeting of the Caribbean Spectrum Management Task Force held at the Iberostar Resort in Montego Bay on Monday.
Newly appointed head of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), Rodney Taylor, says new standards to govern international mobile telecommunications are needed as the Caribbean moves inevitably towards 5G technology.
Taylor’s comments come against the background that the Caribbean is now faced with increased demands for Wi-Fi services to support consumer devices for applications such as gaming, the metaverse and the smart cities.
He was speaking at the meeting of the Caribbean Spectrum Management Task Force (SMTF) at the Iberostar Resort in Montego Bay on Monday.
“The global system that facilitates our day-to-day communications and drives our basic activities in this increasingly connected world is a complex one from a technical, social and geopolitical perspective. The CTU is here to help in this regard and this is why we were established, that is why we exist,” Taylor said.
ushing the argument that the Caribbean must determine what is most important for the region within this context, he said this must be done with the mechanism that is available through the task force.
“I know all too well, the human and financial reserve challenges with respect to the Caribbean’s full participation. However, you are well aware of the vital role of wireless communications enabled by spectrum use, broadband development and as a key enabler of the CARICOM single ICT space as a fundamental component of our efforts for digital transformation,” he argued.
He pointed out that 2023 was of particular importance as the Caribbean seeks to prepare for the World Radio Conference 23 to be hosted in November and December in the United Arab Emirates.
“Not only do we want to ensure that there’s regional representation in terms of our participation, but we work to ensure that our positions are reflected in the outcomes of the conference. This will require a sound understanding of the issues at the technical level, and the implications for the regional ICT industry and ultimately, for the citizens of the Caribbean,” he posited.
Nevertheless, the organisation, he said, will continue to drive the implementation of the CARICOM single ICT space, the fulfilment of the decision of the CARICOM heads of government and as embodied in the roadmap of 2017.
Regional organisation he stated, is at the heart of this roadmap, harmonisation of policies legislation and regulation or spectrum fee structures, frequency allocation, tables, taking guidance and ensuring compliance with international standards, ensuring that radio frequencies are used efficiently from a technical and economic perspective.
According to the secretary general, the ICT provides some guidelines and principles which are to be worked at regionally and at the national level. Chief among them is that spectrum should be allocated to the highest values or uses to ensure maximum benefits to society.
“We will continue to push for harmonisation if we ever get there, a single regulatory framework on which we can all agree,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Dr Norman Dunn, said over the last three decades the region has been cognizant of the growing importance of telecommunications for social and economic development of the Caribbean.
“Jamaica and the Caribbean has seen tremendous advances in ICT development. We have access to multiple telecommunication providers, recently introduced satellite Internet here in Jamaica and we are moving towards 5G technology, which will allow us to expand our capacity as countries, to be a part of the international digital ecosystem and hence the regions socio economic development,” Dunn said.
According to him, with the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA) as the national regulator for radio frequency, spectrum will ensure there is limited to no interference in the Caribbean. The SMA facilitates wireless service across relievers, telecommunication providers, radio stations and other essential services, such as maritime, medical and aeronautical.
In 2022, the SMTF enabled an agreement with two main telecommunication providers in the region – Digicel and Flow – to decrease the roaming charges and make services more easily available, as well as cheaper to consumers in Caribbean member states.
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