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JIS News

Managing Director of the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA), Ernest Smith, has said that wireless technology has hastened the movement towards providing universal access to information and communication technology in Jamaica.
Mr. Smith was speaking against the background of the celebration of World Telecommunications Day on May 17 under theme: ‘Creating an Equitable Information Society – Time for Action’.
He said the theme was selected by the International Telecommunications Union, a body of the United Nations, to encourage world leaders to act promptly to advance the pace towards bridging the digital divide.
He explained that the digital divide referred to the disparity between those who have ready access to voice and data services compared to those who have limited or no access to the technology. “Without wireless systems, we would have been much further behind in the provision of voice (telephone) services”, he observed.
Mr. Smith said that millions of people worldwide have benefited from the provision of voice services through wireless technology, while noting that the technology would enable more people to access data (computer) services.
“Wireless has played and will continue to play a critical role in developing the telecommunications industry, not just in Jamaica but globally”, he stated, adding that the number of wireless subscribers (in terms of cellular phones) have exceeded the number of wired phones worldwide.
According to information from the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), there were approximately 1,500,000 mobile telephone users in 2003, in comparison to 460,000 landline subscribers. The figure reflects a reduction in landline subscribers by 50,000 persons, in the two-year period since liberalization.
Mr. Smith told JIS News that currently, there are about 2 million mobile subscribers. He pointed out that the most widely used area of the spectrum was the frequency bands that provide cellular service, however, he does not perceive any future limitation of space within the spectrum for cellular phone use.
In reference to the future of wireless, the Managing Director said he expects that there will be deployment of wireless broadband systems to provide connectivity for voice, data and video to many Jamaicans. The use of wireless technology, he said, will play a major role in the government’s E-Learning project.