My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Telecom Providers get their own Regulator - GOJ says Telecoms For Your Eyes Only

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Telecom Providers get their own Regulator - GOJ says Telecoms For Your Eyes Only

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety: other women cloy
The appetites they feed; but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies

Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, II, 2

In my last blog article entitled “FLOW goes 3D HDTV as Netflix cometh - XFinity follow-on indicates Streaming's Deep ImpactI mentioned that Triple Play Provider FLOW was going 3D HDTV as well as launching a slew of products by the First Quarter of 2012AD. This announcement coincides with Triple Play Provider FLOW’s Fifth Anniversary of operating in Jamaica since 2006AD.

But an even bigger announcement was made during Triple Play Provider FLOW’s Fifth Anniversary celebrations (where exactly?) by the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding. He announced plans to have a separate Regulatory Body for Jamaican Telecoms Providers, removing it from under the ambit of the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) as stated in the article “OUR to spin off telecoms division- Big 2 backs plan for single regulator”, published Sunday July 24 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner.


The operations of Triple Play Provider FLOW mainly fall under the Broadcasting Commission, being as they have an All-Island Cable License. After five (5) years of operating in Jamaica, Triple Play Provider FLOW still has to ask for an extension for its islandwide build-out plan to the year 2015AD as stated in the article Flow Ja needs five more years to complete triple-play network”, published Sunday March 20, 2011, Mark Titus, Business Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Triple Play Provider FLOW Telecoms arm is Voice Telephony and Data Services, both Residential and Business offered under their Commercial and Wholesale arms, FLOW Jamaica and  Columbus Communications. Effectively, Triple Play Provider FLOW is really a Digital cable company, powered by the DOCSIS 2.0 (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) protocol that offers Telecom Services as a VAS (Value Added Service).

Pure Telecom Providers, such as Wireless Voice and Data Providers in the form of Telecoms Provider LIME and Telecom Provider Digicel, the Big two (2) Telecoms Providers in the local Telecom Landscape, fall under the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation). But the new Telecommunications Act and Regulator are very necessary.

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 upgrading of the Telecommunications Act of 2000 was no surprise, as noted by Telecom Provider LIME, 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”.

But it was the announcement of the Telecoms Regulator, specific to the Telecoms Providers ONLY, that may have caught members attending the Triple Play Provider FLOW’s Fifth Anniversary Dinner by surprise, like a splash of cold water across their face of a sleeping man.


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 in Jamaica are by their nature very different”

This comment indicates how in the dark the Telecoms Providers were as to the Government of Jamaica sudden announcement, as not only were they not consulted. But by his response, Regulatory and Legal Manager at Digicel, Richard Fraser expressed concern with the perception the Government of Jamaica may have with regards to their acquisition of Telecom Provider CLARO and its effect on Telecoms competition in Jamaica

This is in much the same way it is with our neighbours to the North, the US of A, which has the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), in effect upgrading the current Telecommunications Act of 2000 in this the Second Decade of the 21st Century to include (hopefully!):

  1. Telecoms Technicians and Telecoms Engineer Certification specific to Telecoms i.e. incorporating elements of IT
  2. Data and Voice Service standards e.g. ISO9001 Certification and guarantees of 99.999% uptime and availability
  3. Data Center standards
  4. Anti-competitive behaviour as it relates to IPTV Services
  5. Voice and Telecoms services such as Broadband as a Right and Privilege for All Jamaicans (going out on a very shaky limb here!)
  6. Copyright Protection and stronger Anti-piracy Legislation to enforce protection for Intellectual Property
  7. Legislation against trespassing on the Works of a Telecom Provider, inclusive of Modems
Apparently, it does bite that rival Telecom Provider Digicel has achieved 25% of Broadband Market share in less than nine (9) months as stated in my blog article entitled “Digicel and WiMax 4G Mobile - Back to the Future as NetFlix Expands”! Beaten in Voice Services and now apparently in Data Services as well in less than nine (9) months!

The recent announcement by Triple Play Provider FLOW of its launch of four (4) separate Services, namely 3D HDTV, 300Mbps Broadband Internet, TV-Anywhere Concept and Cloud-Based Video Services as stated in my blog article entitled “FLOW goes 3D HDTV as Netflix cometh - XFinity follow-on indicates Streaming's Deep Impactmeans that the Telecom Providers need to have this modern Regulatory Platform.

This as even President and CEO of Triple Play Provider FLOW, Michelle “Dallas” English, points out that the ICT Sector is poised for Growth while in the same breath mentioning the above four (4) new products as stated in the article “Positive outlook for ICT growth in Jamaica - Flow”, published Sunday July 24 2011, The Jamaica Observer. This will now be possible as the Government of Jamaica has said that the new Telecoms Regulator is For Your Eyes Only (1981).

Stay tuned for more as this story develops! 
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