Gov’t Moves Ahead With Plans to Create Single ICT Regulator

Photo: Donald De la Haye Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley (centre), is greeted by Spectrum Management Authority (SMA) Managing Director, Dr. David McBean, on arrival at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday (November 23), for the entity’s 15th Anniversary Awards Dinner. At left is Opposition spokesman on Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell.

Story Highlights

  • The Government is moving ahead with plans to establish a single regulator for the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.
  • Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, said the legislative and regulatory changes necessary to facilitate the move are expected to be brought to Parliament in 2017.
  • Minister Wheatley noted that the objective is to ensure cohesion across the sector “thereby creating a more modern fit-for-purpose framework”.

The Government is moving ahead with plans to establish a single regulator for the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.

Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, said the legislative and regulatory changes necessary to facilitate the move are expected to be brought to Parliament in 2017.

He noted that the objective is to ensure cohesion across the sector “thereby creating a more modern fit-for-purpose framework”.

The Minister was speaking at the Spectrum Management Authority’s (SMA) 15th Anniversary Awards Dinner at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday, November 23.

Meanwhile, he noted the urgency for Jamaica to make the transition from analogue to digital transmission.

He pointed out that a number of countries have already made the switch, enabling them to deliver more high-quality content in order to meet market demand.

“In the case of the United States, this switch has helped to free up valuable broadcast spectrum for public-safety communications by groups such as the police, fire departments and rescue squads,” he pointed out.

“As a country, in order to keep apace of the changes (we) must fully comply and move to digital transmission,” he stressed.

Digital transmission allows for better picture and audio quality and for more programmes to be transmitted in the same channel bandwidth, in comparison to analogue, which transmits a single programme on a channel and is also susceptible to interference.

The proposed date for the nation’s television stations to commence test broadcast in digital format is 2018.

Dr. Wheatley underscored the SMA’s role in ensuring that the country is “ready and prepared to make the digital switch and to secure our place in the digital society”.
“While we enjoy the advances in communication and technology, we, as a people, need to plan for the future. We have spoken about creating a knowledge-based society, but in order for us to truly achieve that objective, we have to ensure that ICT gets the necessary recognition as a significant, if not major, pillar for economic growth and development,” he said.

The SMA used its anniversary awards dinner to honour 24 members of staff for between five and 15 years of service.

An entity of the Science, Energy and Technology Ministry, the SMA is the national regulator for the radio frequency spectrum and serves as an advisory body to the Minister.

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