My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: State Minister Julian Robinson has announced that MNP is delayed until December 2014 - ICT Roadmap in shambles as Fourth Delay Suggest Telecom Provider's Stalling the Process

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

State Minister Julian Robinson has announced that MNP is delayed until December 2014 - ICT Roadmap in shambles as Fourth Delay Suggest Telecom Provider's Stalling the Process

“Minister (Phillip) Paulwell first announced the completion of number portability by the end of 2012, then by the end of 2013 and then again at the end of May 2014. In fact, the ministry's own ICT road map, as presented by state minister Robinson in his 2013 sectoral presentation, projected completion by the end of this fiscal year. There is an obvious disconnect between both ministers' understanding of what is required to make number portability a reality and what is being pitched to the Jamaican people”

Opposition spokesperson on Science Dr. Andrew Wheatley commenting on the Fourth Delay in the implementation of MNP and LNP

There is something strange going on in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining! Conspiracy may be the name of the Game here, as the Telecom Providers may not be too keen on having a Telecom Regulator as noted in my blog article entitled “New Telecom Regulator finally coming by July 2014 - New Telecom Provider looking for stability in the Jamaican Telecoms Market post-LNP and MNP by May 2014”.

This as State Minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining, Julian Robinson, has announced that MNP (Mobile Number Portability) and LNP (Landline Number Portability) has been delayed until the end of 2014 as stated in “Number portability by end of year”, Published Thursday March 6, 2014, The Jamaica Gleaner and “Gov't closer to implementing number portability”, published Tuesday, March 04, 2014 6:25 PM, The Jamaica Observer.

To be more specific, the MNP won't take place until November or December of 2014. LNP's even more delayed; that won't happen until well into 2015! It was promised for May 2014 back in May 2013 as stated in “Number Portability Timeline Pushed Back To May 2014”, Published Tuesday May 28, 2013 6:05 pm, The Jamaica Gleaner but this latest announcement means it’ll be missed yet again.

State Minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining, Julian Robinson made the announcement at the Realtors Association of Jamaica at the New Kingston Conference Centre, a rather strange place to admit something that’s got nothing to do with Realtors, save that Telecom Providers use land!

ICT Roadmap delayed yet again – JLP’s Dr. Andrew Wheatley demands answers as Investors wary

This is yet another delay in the process, the fourth to be exact, in a process which apparently is a lot more complex than anticipated. This may be oweing to the fact that it may require those Telecom Providers currently involved to open up their systems to a Third party Porting Company that has to do this process.

The process is being advised and guided by the following Government and Telecom Interests:

1.      Ministry of Science, Technology Energy and Mining
2.      Office of Utilities Regulation
3.      Telecom Provider LIME
4.      Telecom Provider Digicel
5.      Triple Play Provider Flow

To this end, the State Minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining, Julian Robinson has put out an RFP (Request for Proposal) for a suitable contracting company to do portability. Apparently that’s where the problem lies; lack of consultation from experienced Telecoms Consultants on how the Government of Jamaica must proceed.

Thus far eight (8) entities have answered the call, but this latest delay represents the fourth (4) time there has been once such as stated by Opposition spokesperson on Science Dr. Andrew Wheatley in the article “Wheatley says Gov't number portability delays 'unacceptable'”, published Thursday, March 06, 2014 3:51 PM, The Jamaica Observer and “Wheatley slams Gov’t over number portability delay”, published Friday, March 07, 2014, The Jamaica Observer.

This prompted Opposition spokesperson on Science Dr. Andrew Wheatley to point out the fact that this made FDI (Foreign Direct Investor) Telecom Providers decision to come to Jamaica to do 4G LTE that much difficult, quote: “Let me also state that this continued uncertainty does not bode well for the possibility of a new entrant to the telecoms market and sends the wrong signals to potential investors in”.

This is quite right, as along with a Telecoms Regulator for whom a Consultant will be hired in June of 2013 (hopefully), MNP is one of the four pillars that need to be in place to have 4G LTE in Jamaica as may be the case in Bahamas as noted in my blog article entitled “Bahamas Telecommunications Company launched 4G LTE on Valentine's Day - Jamaicans need UNCHR Right to Broadband Access needed to empower Jamaicans before 4G LTE can go National”.

Facilitating new entrants into Telecoms – MNP is key to increasing Number Ranges

While I’m quick to think there may be something conspiratorial in nature to the delay, being as I’d worked at Cable and Wireless (2001 to 2004) and later CLARO Jamaica (2008-2009).  I know with the Telecom Providers involved in giving advice on their own fate with regards to MNP/LNP despite sounding upbeat back in February 2012 as stated in Flow, Digicel Back Number Portability, Published Sunday February 19, 2012, by McPherse Thompson, Assistant Editor,  The Jamaica Gleaner, they may themselves be stalling the process so that they can continue making money in the current unregulated Telecom Sector.

I’m fully aware of what’s involved, as under a Telecom Regulator  in a MNP Environment that was slated to come on stream by July 2013, they won’t be able to fix prices and overcharge customers as they were doing for the past decade as noted in my blog article entitled “New Telecom Regulator finally coming by July 2014 - New Telecom Provider looking for stability in the Jamaican Telecoms Market post-LNP and MNP by May 2014”. So they’re trying to prolong their money-making spree while in a two-faced manner, declaring in the Media that they’re interested in fulfilling this critical part of the ICT Roadmap.

Any such MNP/LNP has to be automated and not manual, with the customer having their numbers ported within a reasonable timeframe after making a request either via their handset or face-to-face Customer Care or via calling 100 for Customer Care. Hours, even minutes, not days, should be the standard, and best of all without the need to physically change the SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) Card!

The importance of MNP/LNP beyond how it’ll work with customer is clear though; it allows for the more efficient use of phone numbers, be they Mobile or Landline, thus making it easier for another Telecom Provider to enter Jamaica as they’ll have a ready supply of phone numbers.

It’s also a part of the process that’s needed to get more number ranges by getting a new Area Code from the NANP (North American Numbering Plan) as stated in my blog article entitled “OUR applies for new Area Code for Jamaica - Competition in Telecoms in the coming Hunger Games Catching Fire of Mobile Computing”.

These new numbers are needed for Telecom Providers to provide Voice Services to themselves as well as a customer while setting up their 4G LTE Networks as explained in my blog article entitled ”Minister Paulwell in Parliament debut two 700MHz Licenses for 4G LTE for Monday July 15 2013 Auction - 4G LTE Means After Earth Everything is Possible”.

Hence the reason why I suspect that the Telecom Providers may be stalling, as they logically wouldn’t be so eager to make decisions that would make it easier for a Third Telecom Provider to enter the Jamaican market when competition and the Economic downturn means Jamaicans are cutting back on their Spending on Calling Credit.

But their concerns aside, this reflects badly on the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining; they seem unable to control the Three Major Telecom Providers and have now missed a fourth deadline on their ICT Roadmap.


Now thanks to the tardiness (or is it self-interest and self-preservation?) of the Telecom Providers and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining, Jamaica lack of regular consultation and a display of urgency in sticking to the ICT Roadmap, Jamaica may yet again be late to go 4G LTE, effectively Wireless Broadband.

This even as our Caribbean neighbor the Bahamas has achieved this milestone as reported my blog article entitled “Bahamas Telecommunications Company launched 4G LTE on Valentine's Day - Jamaicans need UNCHR Right to Broadband Access needed to empower Jamaicans before 4G LTE can go National”.
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