JIS News

The government of Jamaica has granted two licences for the construction and operation of two submarine fibre optic networks, which will link Jamaica to North America, and the rest of the world.
The licencees are Fibralink Jamaica Limited and Trans-Caribbean Cable Company Limited (TCCCL), which are expected to make a total investment of $5 billion in the creation of undersea links.
Fibralink is a joint venture company that is already active in the local communications market, while TCCC is a consortium of 32 foreign and local telecommunications carriers and service providers.
Making the announcement at a news conference at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on January 5, Commerce, Science and Technology Minister, Phillip Paulwell, noted that the process, which is scheduled for completion within 10-12 months, was important to Jamaica’s realisation of the full benefits from the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector, which began with the signing of the historic agreement between the government and Cable and Wireless in 1999.
Noting that Jamaica’s teledensity had increased since then, Minister Paulwell said that the government’s decision to award the undersea cable licences would now effectively end the monopoly held by Cable and Wireless.
Pointing to the benefits of the infrastructure, he said that nationals could now expect competition in the routing of data and voice traffic into Jamaica using non-satellite infrastructure, which is a significant achievement in the development of a knowledge-based society.
Furthermore, he said, affordable rates in the provision of high speed broadband Internet and other data services could be expected, as both licencees were required to provide services at prices, which would be at least 70 percent below existing prices.Minister Paulwell emphasized that the licences have specific clauses, which would ensure that the work began within the specified period.
He said that the government regarded the investment by both companies as a statement of confidence not only in Jamaica’s telecommunications sector but also in the future of the Caribbean, as the provision of the infrastructure would significantly enhance the island’s emergency telecommunications infrastructure and its capacity to recover from disasters, which affect the region from time to time.
Minister Paulwell further voiced his expectation that with the readily available and reasonably priced fibre capacity, local entrepreneurs could invest in the deployment of domestic fibre networks bringing retail services close to consumer homes and businesses, thus ensuring the availability and affordability of the necessary computer hardware and software.
He disclosed that the board of the Spectrum Management Authority has been mandated to immediately address the local wireless infrastructure through the deployment of the relevant technologies over the 450mega hertz band to provide high-speed broadband capacity to local Internet and data subscribers.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of Fibralink Richard Pardy and President of TCCCL Brian Crawford pledged their commitment to completing the project on time and ultimately providing high speed Internet access at affordable rates to the average citizen.

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