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T&T regulator commited to universal broadband access

Published: 
Saturday, February 13, 2016
Cris Seecheran

The top local telecommunications regulator has underscored the country’s commitment to deepening the penetration of broadband access in T&T, even though the country remains without a 4G/LTE operator nearly two years after the Telecommunications Authority (TATT) recommended that two licences should be awarded.

CEO of TATT Cris Seecheran spoke in favour of universal access to broadband in T&T in a statement promoting the authority’s hosting of the 2016 Caribbean Broadband Forum.

The forum will be organised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) and is due to be held on July 14 and 15 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port-of-Spain.

Seecheran said: “Trinidad & Tobago is committed to universal access to broadband, as we recognise the important contribution fast and reliable access to the Internet makes to our economic development. Since this event is open to all Caribbean islands and not just members of the Commonwealth, it will be an opportunity to collectively address some of the common challenges we still face, and so we look forward to welcoming delegates from the whole region in July.” TATT is responsible for developing a world-class competitive telecommunications and broadcasting infrastructure, vital to the economic development of T&T. The organisation’s vision is to become a global exemplar in telecommunications and broadcasting regulation.

Late last month, senior counsel Gilbert Peterson yesterday resigned from his position as director on the board of Guardian Media Ltd (GML) following the announcement that he was nominated to head the TATT board.

The forum expects to deepen the penetration of broadband access to Caribbean people, said Shola Taylor, Secretary-General of the CTO.

“We understand the peculiar challenges faced by most countries of the region, not least the growing spill over of broadcasting audiences embracing on-demand viewing alternatives over broadband networks. Nevertheless, broadband access should be a right for all, not a privilege of a few, and so this event is part of our efforts to help accelerate universal broadband access for all Caribbean citizens.”

On average, countries of the Caribbean do not markedly differ from the rest of the world with an average fixed broadband penetration of 12 per cent. However, with an average 27 per cent mobile broadband penetration, the region is significantly below the world average of 41 per cent, said a statement on the CTO’s website.

The forum is expected to address challenges and opportunities for broadband in the Caribbean, including:

• impact of broadband access on the economic development of the region

• progress on national broadband plans

• regulatory factors affecting broadband access in specific Caribbean countries

• long-haul and last mile solutions, including 4G/LTE

• infrastructure financing broadband applications, IoT and Big Data, and spectrum opportunities

The CTO said in the statement: “The positive impact of broadband access on economic development is widely evidenced globally, and as with other regions of the world, most Caribbean countries have adopted specific broadband policies, or at least policies with targets for broadband, in order to accelerate access to broadband connectivity by all. 

However, implementing such policies requires significant public as well as private sector investment.” The CTO has been actively promoting broadband over the past 10 years within and beyond the Caribbean. 

For the Caribbean 2016 event, the CTO has been pledged active support from regional organisation Caribbean Telecommunications Union as supporting partner.