A Call From The FCC To Promote Universal Connectivity & Innovation Through Regional Harmonisation Of Spectrum Use
Miami, Florida The Chief of Staff for the United States of America’s (USA) Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ms. Narda Jones, calls for the regional harmonisation of spectrum use. The call came at the opening of CANTO’s 38th Annual Conference and Trade Show, held at the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort, Miami, Florida on Sunday evening. The FCC is an independent agency of the US federal government that regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable across the USA, and its territories. Each year, CANTO, the regional trade association for the telecommunications (telecom) and information, communication and technology (ICT) sector hosts a conference and trade show that brings together policymakers, regulators, telecom operators, ICT solution providers, technologists, members of the academic community and civil society to dialogue on some of the region’s challenges and opportunities in the quickly evolving sector. Among the attendees at this year’s premier gathering are Caribbean ministers of government, parliamentary secretaries and technocrats from Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Kitts Nevis, Turks & Caicos, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Ms. Narda Jones, the FCC Chief of Staff, noting that the well-being and prosperity of the peoples of the US, and by extension the region, are inextricably linked to their access to modern communications systems, highlighted some of the key policy decisions undertaken by the US to ensure that high-speed broadband internet access is both available to and affordable for the vulnerable and low-income householders in her jurisdiction. The initiatives include supporting the deployment of network infrastructure in rural and insular areas, the provision of subsidies for qualifying households, and the expansion of wireless service by repurposing both licensed and unlicensed spectrums. Most wireless data, she indicated, runs over Wi-Fi, and because of this the FCC took the historic step of dedicating 1200 Megahertz of spectrum in the 6 Gigahertz medium range for unlicensed technology. This, she adds, can pave the way for the next Wi-Fi standard known as Wi-Fi 7. The FCC’s Chief of Staff also advocated for the region to follow the US’s lead and work together to enable spectrum harmonisation which would have the benefit of economies of scale and foster domestic opportunities for innovation, spectrum efficiency, and investment.
Also addressing the gathering was newly elected CANTO Chairman, Telesur’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Mike Antonius. Speaking to the theme of this year’s gathering: Fostering a Resilient Datasphere for All, he noted that in today’s world, data joins the traditional factors of production in the creation of economic wealth and value. As such, its protection, security, management, and regulation are of great importance. And because the datasphere is set to grow to one billion terabytes by 2025, fostering a resilient datasphere through the promotion of cybersecurity across the Americas and the Caribbean is pivotal for the region’s continued growth.
He also called on the regional governments and stakeholders to not lose sight of the digital transformation gains made during the pandemic. Pledging CANTO’s support in the continuing digital transformation effort, Mr. Antonius noted that leadership and vision are required if the region would make significant headway. He noted “a comprehensive and collaborative effort that promotes technology adoption, infrastructure development, policy formulation, and yes cultural shifts, across the region…” is required. The “region’s youth must also be appropriately prepared to take advantage of the many new opportunities that will arise within our digitally enabled economic and social spaces,” the CANTO Chairman said. Chairman Antonius went on to add that CANTO, as the government’s partner, would intensify its efforts to articulate the benefits of digital transformation, support the setting of achievable targets by policymakers and mobilise all stakeholders to actively participate in the exercise.
Also championing the call for universal connectivity was CANTO’s Secretary General Mrs. Teresa Wankin who said that at “the core of all our progress, and technology should be the promotion of inclusion, and equity.” She called on operators and other stakeholders to strive to improve the lives of all our region’s people as humanity’s survival depends on it.
The Conference also heard from Headline sponsor Cable and Wireless Communications (C&W), through Ms. Marilyn Sealy, Senior Director – Head of Communications for Cable & Wireless Communications. She reiterated the operator’s commitment to improving the Caribbean’s ability to access connectivity and data. JUMP, C&W’s signature program providing subsidised broadband service to qualifying low-income households across the region, and offering digital literacy training, and devices to aid in bridging the digital divide, is among the initiatives the firm highlighted as its contribution to promoting universal connectivity in the region.
C&W is one among more than ten organisations that have joined CANTO to stage this flagship event, namely: Digicel Group (Diamond), ATN International (Platinum), 6D Technologies (Bronze), Aliv (Bronze), Solution Box (Bronze), JSC Ingenium, SaskTel International, ENet, University of the Commonweath Caribbean, Turks and Caicos Islands Telecommunications Commission, Telesur, Syniverse, VISA, ICANN, Ictual, The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, BVI, Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT), Hyundai Mobile, Symptai and Mastercard.
The conference continues Monday 17th July 2023 through to Wednesday 19th 2023 at the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort, Miami, Florida.
CANTO is a non-profit association, founded in 1985 made up of operators, organisations, companies and individuals in the telecommunications sector. The Association has a Caribbean focus as it relates to ICT issues for the region with a global perspective and has grown to over 141 members in more than 36 countries.
CANTO views its role in the Caribbean Telecommunications community as that of leadership in influencing policy, expert in providing information in all aspects of the industry and facilitator, in encouraging dialogue and meaningful collaborative enterprise. This philosophy is captured in our mission statement: “to facilitate the development of ICT solutions for the benefit of members and other stakeholders in the Caribbean region.”
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