New Telecom Act Coming for Jamaica – Providers surprised with their Own Regulator

FLOW, whose operations mainly fall under the Broadcasting Commission, being as they have an All-Island Cable License is going 3D HDTV, like Palace Amusement. But wait, that’s not even the interesting part! FLOW is launching a slew of products by the First Quarter of 2012AD, namely:

  1. 300Mbps Broadband Internet speeds
  2. 3D HDTV Cable TV packages made possible by this speed increase
  3. A TV-Anywhere Concept akin to Comcast XFinity 1GBps product
  4. Cloud-Based Video Services, similar to Digicel as per my article “Digicel’s Cloud Backup Services – A deep Analysis”.

For those who came late, this is FLOW’s Fifth Anniversary of operating in Jamaica since 2006AD. They have miles to go, now having earlier in 2011AD asked for an extension of their five (5) year all-island Cable TV License to 2015AD.

But of greater importance was the announcement by the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding. Jamaican Telecoms Providers are not only getting a newly redrafted Telecommunications Act of 2000, which under the PNP Administration and Senator Phillip Paulwell, then Minister of Telecommunications and ICT , ushered in the current age of Telecoms Competition with Digicel, but also they will be getting their very own Telecoms Regulator!

To quote the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding: “Even though it is a statute of relative vintage, we found that it had already become obsolete and in fact was impeding many of the new areas of competition that did not exist at the time when the legislative work was being done”.

This is a crib of the USA’s, FCC (Federal Communications Commission), a necessary update in this the Second Decade of the 21st Century. My hopes for changes include:

  1. Telecoms Technicians and Telecoms Engineer Certification specific to Telecoms
  2. Data and Voice Service standards e.g. ISO9001 Certification and guarantees of 99.999% uptime and availability
  3. Data Center standards
  4. Legislation against Anti-competitive behaviour in provisioning bandwidth for IPTV Services with IPTV Licenses
  5. Voice and Telecoms services such as Broadband as a Right and Privilege for All Jamaicans i.e. free EDGE, SMS and GPRS
  6. Copyright Protection and stronger Anti-piracy Legislation to enforce protection for Intellectual Property
  7. Stronger Legislation against trespassing on the Works of any Telecom Provider equiptment

Thus the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) can go on focusing on Water and Light [Electricity] issues. Which they need to, as JPS Co (Jamaica Public Service Company) is getting pilloried by John Public who accuse JPS Co of customer profiling and Manufacturing suffering from High cost of Electricity. This based on a raft of Jamaica Gleaner and Jamaica Observer articles for those of you who still read more than the funnies in the newspapers!

Telecom Providers, such as Wireless Voice and Data were previously under the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) jurisdiction. But the new Telecommunications Act and Regulator are very necessary in light of the outdated Telecommunications Act of 2000 and the special nature of the constantly evolving Jamaican Telecoms Sector, now on par and even ahead of the rest of the world as my article LIME, Digicel and FLOW – Leading the Global 4G Adoption Curve points out.

Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding puts it best, to quote from the Jamaica Gleaner: “Even though it is a statute of relative vintage, we found that it had already become obsolete and in fact was impeding many of the new areas of competition that did not exist at the time when the legislative work was being done”.

I loved the way the Prime Minister made the announcement. It was right after President and CEO of FLOW, Michele English, made her surprise announcement of FLOW launching a raft of new products. A Telecoms Regulator, specific to the Telecoms Providers ONLY, may have been a box across the jaw to the guests at FLOW’s Fifth Anniversary Dinner.

Their responses are priceless, worthy of a VISA Mastercard commercial.

First up, the words of Regulatory and Legal Manager at Digicel, Richard Fraser should be made into a tagline, quote: “We haven’t been approached, but we would be broadly supportive since preserving competition in the Telecom Market is important. The Water and Power Markets inJamaica are by their nature very different”. Apparently Digicel is somewhat sensitive about how the public may perceive the acquisition of CLARO and what it may mean for competition and prices, a minor foible, as with the ongoing Recession, prices cannot trend upwards any time soon.

Next up to bat is LIME. LIME’s nonchalant acceptance of the inevitable was more poised and coy, quote: “The current framework has in several ways not met the needs of the changing dynamic of the Industry, including the regulation of the company which has become dominant, and the removal of regulation of LIME in the markets in which we are no longer dominant”.

lime logo

Apparently, it is stinging retribution heaped as hot coals on the head of LIME Executives that Digicel has achieved 25% of Broadband Market share in less than nine (9) months! And when will this new Telecom Regulator come online?

Apparently when the newly redrafted Telecommunications Act of 2000 is made into law. Hence we are looking for this new Body sometime in the latter part of the Fourth Quarter of 2011AD and the First Quarter of 2012AD

Stay tuned for more as this story unfolds, only on Geezam!

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.