The region recently took a major step towards achieving a single ICT space when representatives from various regulatory organisations around the Caribbean came together between January 25-27, 2016 at the Meeting/Workshop of the Spectrum Management Task Force and Steering Committee hosted by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), with support from Compete Caribbean.
Held in Barbados, the event provided a forum for regulators to collaborate on the draft of the Spectrum Management Strategic Plan which would be instrumental to the Harmonization of Spectrum Management Policies.
Benefits of this project are significant as it has prompted alignment of the Caribbean with international digital broadcasting and communication protocols. What does this mean for the average person? Nigel Cassimire, CTU Telecommunications Specialist explained: “This will positively impact increased access to wireless broadband by reducing cost and stimulating supply and demand.”
Meanwhile, Senator the Hon. Darcy W. Boyce, Barbadian minister responsible for telecommunications who is also the current President of the CTU: “There are also economic benefits to be derived from appropriate spectrum management as spectrum is the gateway towards developing economies of scale for private and public sector.”
Minister Boyce further pointed out: “I have asked the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) and Compete Caribbean to find a way of continuation and upscaling of the current spectrum project as it relates to competitiveness because they have done some very useful work but I want to make sure that it is implemented. I will try to see to what extent we can get other funding agencies involved with a specific plan to implement what is recommended in the Spectrum Management Strategic Plan.”
He further pointed out that spectrum management in the context of what it will do for competitiveness and therefore the growth of Caribbean economies is vital. “Nowadays, whether or not you are a services driven economy or you are a commodities driven economy, it is important to have good communications. And good communications depends partly on good spectrum management.”
Explaining that people generally do not realise how cross-cutting telecommunications is in societies and economies, Minister Boyce said telecommunications is often taken for granted. “Those of us involved in the field have to make sure that we keep current in order for our economies to remain on the cutting edge in order to become more competitive. Part of this is ensuring that our spectrum management is of the highest quality.”
The Barbadian senator added: “Where I want Caribbean telecommunications to go is top class, comparable to any international market because that is where we are going to have to compete with the quality and service that we provide. Quality has to be uppermost in our minds.”
Drawing an analogy to further illustrate his point, Minister Boyce concluded: “I like to consider spectrum as a highway and the management of it is making sure the lanes don’t merge too suddenly and that we have sufficient and proper traffic lights and police to make sure that the traffic flows rather than stands still. That is exactly how I would like to explain it to people. If your roads are choked, a lot of time is wasted. Part of what we are also having is this exponential growth in demands for a telecommunication highway, spectrum.”