Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 15th 2013 Contents AUGUST 2013 • WEEK THREE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
Last week, telecom provider Digicel announced
its intention to dispense with roaming charges
across the Caribbean and United States markets.
Already the move is being hailed as a positive
one by stakeholders as it would cut costs for
Dr Edmond Mansoor, Minister of State, Telecommunications,
Science and Technology, Office of the Prime Minister, Antigua
and Barbuda, backs the move.
"I recall approximately a year ago, ECTEL---Eastern Caribbean
Telecommunications Authority---convened a special meeting in
Antigua, during which Antigua and Barbuda was granted observer
status, and one of the issues we promulgated was for both LIME
(a leading communications company in the Caribbean) and
Digicel, to consider the Caribbean as a single communication
space. Clearly, that would result in better costs for consumers,
and at the end of the day, who wants to pay more when they
can pay less?
"I gather, for the time being, this pertains to a voice traffic
only and I believe they might be considering it for data as well.
I m sure those details would become more available in the coming
days. It s a positive development and I expect LIME to follow
suit very shortly."
Mansoor was speaking to the Business Guardian after day
one of the Caribbean ICT Ministers Forum, which was held
last Friday at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad
hotel, Dock Road, Port-of-Spain.
In an August 8 release, Digicel stated:
"The move, which applies to voice, SMS
and data roaming charge, sees customers
being able to communicate for the same great rates that they
pay at home when they travel in the Caribbean and the United
States. It will be in place across the region by October 1, and
Digicel customers will not be charged an activation fee when
roaming in the Caribbean."
Responding, Mansoor said: "In the case of a Trinidadian or
Tobagonian going up to Barbados or Antigua, the fact that they
are going to treat you as if you were still in T&T when you are
placing a call, I think they would have done their homework and
made sure that it does not impact in any negative way on their
revenue. For consumers, that is a very positive development; the
establishment of a single telecommunications space in the
This means there is "healthy" competition in the regional
telecom market, he added.
"What it has resulted in, at a consumer level, would be a
decrease in the cost of telecommunications services, moreso on
the data side, and (secondly), it gives people more options of
what they think they can leverage upon.
"ICT has this hugely empowering potential and the Caribbean
regulators are doing an excellent job in keeping the companies
in-check and making sure they are playing by the rules."
Though regulation varies from island to island in the Eastern
Caribbean, Mansoor is confident that the Harmonisation of
Internet Protocol for the Caribbean (HIPCA) is a very positive
thing. He is now calling for Information Technology to be made
available to all students.
"Antigua and Barbuda is the only country in the English-
Speaking Caribbean that has a 4G LTE (fourth generation long-
term evolution network), we also have a 4GA HSPA+ network.
We also have other types of 4G networks, but it is making
broadband available islandwide, community-wide especially,
among vulnerable groups, NGOs, church-based organisations,
faith-based organisations and leveraging on its potential in the
"We have been doing that in Antigua, we have started deploying
4G LTE-enabled computer Tablets to secondary schools students
and very shortly, every student and every teacher. In a nutshell,
it is making broadband more ubiquitous and more affordable,"
With updated networks and tighter regulation is the legislation
adequately updated? While it varies from island to island, "in
Antigua, we have Data Protection Act, the Electronic Actions
Act and so on, it varies. Tremendous progress is being made,
and I believe that for the most part, there is a deeper under-
standing of the necessity of passing modern legislation."
Mansoor said broadband can assist youths to be better prepared
for the world of work.
"They would be entering a work world where the opportunities
that they have would be markedly different than what they are
now, and those opportunities are a mixture of greater income
earning potential, greater job opportunity and the ability to
telecommute, the ability to stay in Antigua, or to stay in Barbados,
St Lucia, T&T and conduct business online, further their skill
sets online without having to travel and at a much more reduced
"It will give them significantly more opportunity in leveraging
on digital media and in being creative. If you consider the
creative potential of Caribbean people and how we can showcase
it to the world using multimedia using new media I think we
are on the right track and heading in the right direction.
John Davies, vice-president,
World Ahead Programme,
Intel, who has visited more
than 100 countries in the last
six years, said he has seen a
trend of reduced costs in the
sector for personal computers, tablets and phones. "Anytime
you make things easier for users, or you make it more affordable,
the market grows."
Referring to competition in the regional telecom market, he
said there are multiple providers in every island, which means
competition is strong.
The Intel Corporation creates the programmes for computers
and has partnered with the Ministry of Education to provide
comprehensive training for teachers to make them more skilled
to use computers in the classroom.
"T&T has actually invested in quality computers. I signed a
memorandum of understanding with the permanent secretary
of the Ministry of Education (last Thursday) on bringing a more
comprehensive education programme here. What that means
is---train the teachers---need to be one piece of it because children
grow up with computers.
"You have to get the teachers trained (to be) confident to
create a lesson plan, to manage 30 kids in the classroom if
everyone has a computer. How do they manage the network?
That is what we are going to do here in a more comprehensive
Asked what time period the MoU covers, he said: "It s in effect
now, we would run workshops. We are an honourable company.
We ll work with governments. Once we start working with them,
they are normally very happy with the engagements," Davies said.
The Intel Corporation is providing consultancy, knowledge,
expertise best practice from around the world through this MoU.
Commenting on ICT in the Caribbean, Davies said globalisation
is growing quickly and "the Caribbean is moving forward quite
nicely. The big challenge for the Caribbean is: where do I add
my value? If you are a country of half a million or less, you
won t be manufacturing computers there. It won t make sense,
but you could be writing your software, you could be doing your
system integration, you could do a lot of things around IT that
you need for your country and the Caribbean can co-operate
Davies said each country can frame its identity and brand,
which are qualities Intel encourages.
Digicel's move to
remove roaming costs
Dr Edmond A Mansoor, Minister of State,
Telecommunications, Science and Technology, Office of the
Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda.
PHOTOS: KEARRA GOPEE
John Davies, vice-president, Intel Corporation.
The move, which applies to voice,
SMS and data roaming charge, sees
customers being able to communicate
for the same great rates that they pay
at home when they travel in the
Caribbean and the United States.
It will be in place across the region
by October 1, and Digicel customers
will not be charged an activation
fee when roaming in the Caribbean.
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