Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 29th 2017 Contents JUNE 29 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
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T&T seeks to leverage
Anational drive is gaining pace
in T&T to prioritise access to
data services as an engine
for economic growth, part
of wider plans to reduce the
country's reliance on hydro-
In late April Maxie Cuffie, Minister of Pub-
lic Administration and Communications, an-
nounced that a new broadband strategy tar-
geting universal access to internet services was
Speaking at a conference titled "Internet
of Things: Smarter Living in the Caribbean"
held in Port-of-Spain, Cuffie said the potential
broadband offered could be compared to that
of T&T's hydrocarbons sector. He voiced his
confidence that increased reach and speed,
combined with a rise in wifi-capable devices,
could deliver significant ripple effects across
the national economy.
"This level of potential connectivity pre-
sents, then, the perfect storm for the mush-
rooming of internet of things, and we believe
that data is indeed the new oil," he told the
Data as a
Cuffie added that developing broadband
formed part of a wider programme that targets
using ICT as an effective means of facilitating
fast and efficient delivery of public services,
and encouraging business growth in an in-
creasingly diverse economy.
The private sector would continue to take
the lead in internet and ICT development, the
minister said, although the government plans
to boost its role as facilitator of development.
As part of its bid to provide the popula-
tion with universal access to basic telecoms
and broadcasting services, the government
is widening the network of free wi-fi access
points across the islands. Speaking at the same
conference, Gilbert Peterson, chairman of the
Telecommunications Authority of T&T, said
the authorities planned to deploy 45 wi-fi
hotspots in public places across the islands.
"Locations are waiting areas at public hos-
pitals, major transportation hubs, water taxi
and ferry docking areas, and public libraries,"
Peterson added that the push to close the
digital divide and "connect the unconnected"
also includes plans to speed up the licensing
of frequencies known as white-space devices,
with a September target having been set.
on the horizon
T&T's efforts to move towards a more knowl-
edge-based economy and fully connected
society have begun garnering international
interest. Amazon Web Services, a cloud pro-
vider and subsidiary of online retailer Amazon,
is eyeing T&T as a new market for expansion.
Its representatives made a three-day visit to
the country in April, during which talks with
both the government and businesses were on
The state-owned service provider Telecom-
munications Services of T&T (TSTT) is also
working to align its offering with the digital
economy, announcing in early May that it had
struck a TT$225m ($33.5m) deal with Massy
Communications, part of the Massy Group,
to buy all of the firm's shares.
The acquisition will give TSTT ownership
of Massy's existing fibre-to-the-home infra-
structure, which comprises more than 900 km
of cable connecting approximately 34,000
Ronald Walcott, CEO of TSTT, said the
buyout formed a key part of the firm's mod-
"As part of TSTT's current TT$3.8bn
($564m), five-year strategic plan, we clear-
ly indicated we have one primary mandate
and that is to transform TSTT from a legacy
20th-century telecoms provider, to an agile
broadband communications company," he said.
Digital drive goes
T&T should also benefit from a regional
drive among Caricom members to promote
electronic cooperation in key areas.
In mid-May government ministers from the
bloc approved the integrated work plan for its
Single ICT Space--- the digital element of the
Caricom Single Market and Economy---at a
Joseph Cox, assistant secretary-general at
Caricom's directorate for trade and economic
integration, told media the flagship programme
would facilitate cooperation in digital man-
agement across key areas such as legislation
"The Single ICT Space work plan provides
a guide for issues that the region can work on
together -- with those that have done some
things before helping the ones now embarking
on those projects," he said.
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