My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Public Awareness Program for Broadcasters “frequency squatting” on spectrum

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Public Awareness Program for Broadcasters “frequency squatting” on spectrum

Since the Liberalization of the Telecoms Sector by Senator Phillip Paulwell in 1997 with the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 2000, very little has changed with regards to not only the awareness of John Public of the inner workings of the Telecom Sector, Broadcasting and Newspapers as well as issues as it relates to spectral efficiency in Broadcasting, both Radio and Television have not been addressed.

MNP (Mobile Number Portability) as specified in the article “OUR signal Policy Shift on Portability - Says Jamaica is running out of Phone Numbers”, published Friday November 20, 2009, by Mark Titus, The Jamaica Gleaner, (http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com) about which I had written a proposal to the Government of Jamaica  as to how it can be implemented points out that if successfully implemented by sharing resources on all levels and all customers and subscribers are registered, all three (3) Telecoms Providers can force all of it customers and subscribers to go Postpaid. This would significantly boost revenues for all three (3) Telecoms Providers and there would be no customer or subscriber backlash, as most Jamaicans cannot live without their phones.

Like the Government of Jamaica, Telecoms Providers are all faced with a similar choice: as the effects of the Recession begin to worsen and people choose to top-up their phones less often and with the coming taxation (confused? please read the Matalon Report) on a quarterly basis with the Telecoms Providers being taxed each time, you will have to increase your cash inflows or face certain financial starvation. Only by all three (3) Telecoms Providers jointly forcing their customers and subscribers to go Postpaid or face having their mobile phone service permanently disconnected will Telecoms Providers begin to actually make revenue, as is the case with Telecom Providers Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint in the United States of America and Telecom Providers O2, Orange, BT and Vodafone in the United Kingdom who have all done what Telecoms Providers in Jamaica are reluctant to do: face reality.

Also RJR Communication Group and CVM Communications Group are also faced with a dilemma, as it is obvious they are not making any money from advertising alone, evident from the now lengthly Prime Time News programs which are mostly 20 minutes of advertising, as advertisers realize that, realistically, the over 60% that one Broadcaster claims it has of the Television market share is not realistic and possibly many not be scientific data, especially in light of the prevalence of Cable TV. They too must change their model of operation and go Digital via a DSO (Digital Switch Over) under the auspices of the Broadcast Commission, as stated in the article “Slow road to Digital switch-over - Cable Groups mum; FLOW ahead but network coverage behind”, The Saturday Gleaner, Saturday, August 15, 2009, by Mark Titus, The Jamaica Gleaner, (http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com).

With regards to this as well, I had also written a proposal to the Government of Jamaica as the spectrum that they currently occupy is needed by the Spectrum Management Authority for resale to Telecoms Providers as they [Broadcasters] are titleholders as such, of the spectrum they operate on, and as such a transition to Digital can raise much needed revenue to support DSO. RJR Communication Group and CVM Communications Group can transition to HDTV (High Definition Digital Television) using Digicel WiMaX 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) and WiMaX  4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) to carry both Radio and Television. The days of analog NTSC standard Television and AM and FM Radio are over, as HDTV is spectrally efficient, allowing for the transmission of Television and Radio digitally in the same spectrum band as would carry a NTSC broadcast and in the process freeing up spectrum in the Television frequencies and AM and FM frequencies for resale by the RJR Communication Group and CVM Communications Group to generate revenue to support the HDTV transition and allow Telecoms Providers to purchase spectrum for high speed data services.

The White Spaces, which are the frequencies in-between the Television spectrum frequencies, can be used to facilitate the transition of the Newspaper Companies, specifically the Herald, the Jamaica Gleaner and the Jamaica Observer, who already have websites and need only make the transition to broadcasts journalism via postings of video clips on their websites, hosting Web TV-based services as well as a paperless form that is supported by Amazon Kindle Readers. These white spaces can also auctioned off as free licensed spectrum for low tier Telecom Providers to use specifically for data services, so as to make more efficient usage of the spectrum.

This is, of course, after an audit is done by the Broadcasting Commission to ascertain the location both in terms of spectrum and geography of these white spaces, as white spaces also includes spectrum that is used for Television and Radio broadcast that is unused in certain parts of the island as alluded to in the article “Google wants to build 'white spaces' Database” published January 4, 2010 5:54 PM PST by Tom Krazit, CNET News – Relevant Results, (http://news.cnet.com). Despite any anticipate battle between the Broadcasters and the Broadcasting Commission, after the DSO, the Broadcaster have the most to gain by the sale of their spectrum as suggested in the article “TV Broadcasters prepare for Spectrum Battle”, published March 17, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News – Signal Strength, (http://news.cnet.com).

I think it would therefore be a good idea to have Simone Clarke-Cooper, a host on Smile Jamaica Morning Time on TVJ as well as Radio and Television personalities do a program to make Jamaicans aware of the impending transitions as well as demystify different aspects of Radio transmissions with live demonstrations of experiments and electronics circuits built to transmit Radio Signals, Demystifying the different aspects of Telecoms Provider Services and how they work (though not in detail), Practical applications of Radio Waves, Antennae Design as well as product presentations by the various Telecom Providers island wide. Possibly it can be called the Tesla Corner, named after Nikola Tesla, the Radio Frequency engineer famous for his ideas that led to the development of HAARP (High-Altitude Auroral Research Project) or the Marconi Lab, named after the Gugleimo Marconi, inventor of wireless telecommunications, with a format similar to the program hosted by Simon Crosskill featuring Watts New and their latest computing gadgets, essentially self promotion for the IT (Information Technology) Sector.

In concluding, albeit my proposals which I have sent thus far to the Government of Jamaica, albeit basic, are nonetheless templates for the future of the Telecoms Sector’s as it relates to spectral efficiency, encouraging growth and increasing taxable revenue for the Government of Jamaica. Thus it would be in the best of interest for the members of the Telecom Provider companies, the Broadcasters and the Newspapers to accede to these proposals, as not only will it increase spectral efficiency, create revenue via the sale of VAS (Value Added Services) and reduce the cost of Telecoms by sharing common resources but it would result in management salaries as high as JA$8 million to JA$10 million per year and entry level salaries possibly as high as JA$2.5 million to JA$3 million per year for qualified students entering the Telecoms, Broadcast and Newspaper sector from Training Facilities for Undergraduate and Telecoms Research for Postgraduate students hosted in joint programs at both the University of Technology and the University of the West Indies, now bristling with pride with its new Engineering Programs at the Mona Campus, as hinted in all of my proposals thus far.
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