Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, has announced that the Government has reached an agreement with telecommunications provider, LIME Jamaica, to open the Montego Bay Free Zone to other providers.
The Minister, who made the disclosure at a press conference at the Free Zone, on June 7, commended LIME for giving up the monopoly that was slated to end in 2015.
He emphasised that LIME acceding to the Government’s request to relinquish its exclusivity, is an act of co-operation for further growth and job creation.
Noting that since liberalisation in the late 1990s, Jamaica has seen growth in the telecoms industry, the Minister hailed the latest move as one that will further strengthen the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
“We have to move this industry (forward). We have the people and we have the telecoms infrastructure, so the mission from now on is to move in that direction,” the Minister argued.
He said the competition will entice investors to consider Jamaica as a premier ICT/Business Process Outsourcing destination, and that competition will vastly help in the growth of the sector.
“We have achieved tremendous benefits from competition, but we now have to look beyond the shores of Jamaica. I want the companies to look at the world, because there is no reason why Jamaica should not be the centre in this region for all telecommunication and business related activities,” the Minister said.
For years, companies in the free zone have been clamouring for new telecommunication service providers to be allowed to enter the area, making them free to contract services from any telecommunications or ICT company that can offer the desired service, and at the right price.
The end of Jamaica Digiport International Limited’s (JDI) exclusive licence is set to provide increased business activities at the free zone, as other service providers are expected to enter into arrangements with the business operators.
Previously, the JDI, a wholly owned subsidiary of LIME Jamaica, held two licences – the Free Trade Zone Carrier Licence 2000, and the Free Trade Zone Service Provider Licence 2000. Those licences gave JDI the right to be the exclusive provider of telecommunication services to the Montego Bay Free Zone, as well as to own and operate licenced facilities in any free zone. The JDI has voluntarily relinquished the two licences, which were due to expire in March 2015.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter