JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says the Government will deliver on its promise that cellular phone users will have number portability by the end of May this year.
  • Number portability will allow cellular phone users to carry their numbers across ports when they switch their service providers.
  • Mr. Paulwell argued that there is need for additional players, as the marketplace is big enough to accommodate more than the current two carriers. More providers, he said, would result in more competitive rates, especially those for data.

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says the Government will deliver on its promise that cellular phone users will have number portability by the end of May this year.

Number portability will allow cellular phone users to carry their numbers across ports when they switch their service providers.

Speaking at the official opening of the Farm Primary and Junior High School internet café and information and communication technology (ICT) centre in Green Pond, St. James, on February 25, Mr. Paulwell informed that number portability is among the conditions government imposed for the LIME/Flow merger.

The Minister emphasised that Jamaica would not return to the days of telecommunication monopoly. “I want to assure you that as the person who was involved in liberalising (the sector), I am not going back to monopoly situations and I am making sure that in whatever joint ventures that emerge, there is the preservation of competition,” he said.

Mr. Paulwell explained that at present, the laws governing the telecommunication sector do not allow the Minister to regulate mergers and acquisitions. However, he said that a number of checks and balances have been imposed to guarantee fair competition and better rates for the consumer.

Also, the telecommunication providers have agreed on a co-location arrangement, which will facilitate them and as well as new players in the sector sharing cell sites and tower antennas.

“And, there are many more conditions that we have imposed on (the LIME/Flow) deal to make sure that competition reigns. For example, Cable and Wireless will now own the undersea fibre-optic cable that links Jamaica with the outside world, and we are making sure that in that ownership, they do not use it in a discriminatory way against competition,” the Minister said.

Mr. Paulwell argued that there is need for additional players, as the marketplace is big enough to accommodate more than the current two carriers. More providers, he said, would result in more competitive rates, especially those for data.

In his remarks, Member of Parliament for St. James Central, Lloyd B. Smith, called on users to take care of the centre, noting that sister school, Green Pond Primary, has been plagued by regular break-ins.

He suggested that stiffer penalties should be levied by the courts on criminals who burglarize government properties, particularly schools.

President of the Green Pond Community Development Committee (CDC), Judith Wallace, said the cost of the project was $4.7 million, adding that the centre would serve the community as a resource, training and home work facility.

Mrs. Wallace said the community is grateful for the input of all the partners, and that the facility would greatly enhance the performance of the students and their teachers.

The centre is equipped with 24 desktop computers, two printers, a retractable screen, wireless internet connectivity, a projector and server, as well as desks and chairs.

This resulted from a community/government partnership among the Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Ministry, the Universal Service Fund (USF), the Green Pond CDC, the Social Development Commission (SDC) and the Ministry of Education.