Jamaica reaches out to ICT innovators – Jamaica

Internet adoption in LatAm depends on multiple factors – Regional

Digital divide still a problem in LatAm – Regional

UN launches tender for ICT equipment for Honduran university – Honduras

Press Release: The impact of Brexit on IT investment and telecoms regulation – Regional


Jamaica reaches out to ICT innovators – Jamaica

Jamaica is calling on innovators to develop applications to improve the government’s operations and processes.

“The government definitely needs more of you to look at some of the problems we have in governance and find new ways for us to solve those problems,” said education and information minister Floyd Green at the launch of Digital Media Week in Kingston.

“I want to see more of you develop applications that a government can use to aid its processes; to develop services, to deliver services to the people of Jamaica.”

Jamaica’s National Development Plan deems the ICT sector as critical to the country’s economic development. The government points to ICT under-utilization as a cause of the public sector’s low efficiency levels.

Digital Media Week brings tech startups together to discuss social and digital media issues concerning the country.

Internet adoption in LatAm depends on multiple factors – Regional

A Latin American survey by the Global Commission on Internet Governance confirmed that, to varying degrees depending on the socio-economic decile, the age, gender, education level, dwelling location, native language and family composition of household decision-makers can affect the likelihood of uptake even when coverage and affordability have been dealt with.

The CIGI conducted the survey directly with more than 875,000 householders in different parts of each country, providing a more accurate picture than previous studies based more on feedback from operators.

While it can be shown that internet access for schoolchildren can create “spillover” demand in their homes, the study found that both operators and households need help to fully capture those benefits in the form of government initiatives and investments that help align consumer choices with public welfare.

Thus, the CIGI’s chief policy recommendations for governments are:

1. Promote online content and services in indigenous languages.

2. Do more to connect schools.

3. Subsidize access for low-income families with children in school.

While connectivity for schools has been a key pillar of broadband programs in most Latin American countries, the less advanced countries have often focused on the purchase of ICT equipment for students, with fewer resources invested in complementary connectivity programs.

However, one caveat found in the study was that an over-emphasis on connectivity for schools can be counter-productive. Uruguay’s Plan Ceibal program has been very successful in connecting schools, but as a result families see less need to invest in residential internet services.

Digital divide still a problem in LatAm – Regional

Coverage, cost and content are the three C’s that are still preventing many Latin Americans from accessing the internet, according to telecoms experts and executives.

Speaking on a panel during the IV Latin American telecommunications congress, held in Cancún, Mexico, Raúl Katz, professor of business strategy for business technology at Columbia University, said that 49% of households still lack internet connectivity.

While telecoms services do not reach everyone, some 45% of households have coverage but opt not to use it. This is due to a lack of digital skills and relevant content. Katz said, saying that governments have a fundamental role to play in correcting that.

Jorge Vargas, strategic partnership director at the Wikimedia Foundation, spoke of the benefits of the zero rating initiative, saying that Wikimedia has agreements with 75 mobile operators worldwide allowing free access to Wikimedia websites and he added that information requests can also be done via basic technologies such as SMS.

In terms of coverage, Katz said that advances are being made, but there is a limit to how much can be invested in spreading internet to everyone while bringing prices down to the point where cost is no longer an obstacle to connecting.

The academic spoke of the US model, where some 19mn homes are covered by small wireless internet service providers (WISPS) that are granted white space, or unused broadcasting frequencies, or gaps left between TV channels, that can then be used for providing 4G internet.

According to Katz, telecommunications operators already reinvest a significant percentage of their income compared to other industries.

“Prices are coming down. It’s a natural effect of competition. But the Ebitda of telecoms operators in Latin America is among the lowest in the world. There’s a limit to how much you can drop prices to where investment cannot be recovered,” Katz said.

Sonia George, executive director of the Alliance for an Affordable Internet (A4AI), said that poverty is still a major problem and that no country in the world can say today that even the poorest elements of society are all connected.

Gender is also an issue and women in Latin America are 50% less likely to have access to the internet. George said that in the Dominican Republic, fixed broadband costs 24% of the income of the lowest income families.

Alejandro Cantú, legal affairs director of América Móvil, said that more flexible regulation is required that is technology agnostic in order to eliminate obstacles to infrastructure deployment.

Meanwhile, Sebastián Kaplan, Latin America regulatory director with mobile operator Millicom, added that legal security for investors is “the magic word” for investment.

“We need predictable regulatory scenarios with legal security for investors and to generate greater efficiencies through infrastructure sharing.

Pedro Less, public policy director with Google Latin America, said governments need to be open to innovative new infrastructure projects such as Google’s Loon internet balloon project.

President of Telefónica Hispano América, Eduardo Caride, criticized the decision of certain governments to continue to tax telecommunications services and devices as luxury items, making specific reference to the high prices charged in certain recent spectrum auctions.

UN launches tender for ICT equipment for Honduran university – Honduras

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) opened an international tender for the acquisition of computer equipment and structured cabling for Honduras’ Francisco Morarán National Pedagogical University (UPNFM).

UPNFM is one of the largest universities in the Central American country, with over 23,000 students distributed in eight campuses.

The 10 lots of equipment requested include fiber optics and external cabinets. The full list of the hardware solicited and details on tender requirements can be found here.

Companies can express interest in the tender via this email compras.hn@unops.org. The deadline for submitting tenders is July 22.

Press Release: The impact of Brexit on IT investment and telecoms regulation – Regional

News Release from Ovum

The UK electorate has voted to withdraw from the European Union. Once the government formally notifies Brussels of its intention to withdraw by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the two-year withdrawal process will begin. The outcome will take several years to unfold with consequences for IT investment and the telecoms regulatory environment.

Ovum analysts Jim Jennings and Luca Schiavoni consider the likely impact:

  • Analyst View – Brexit decision will impact enterprise IT investment – Tim Jennings, Chief Research Officer, Enterprise IT Management,
  • Analyst View – Brexit will have minimal impact on the UK’s regulatory environment – Luca Schiavoni, Senior Analyst, Regulation

Analyst View – Brexit decision will impact enterprise IT investment

The UK’s momentous decision to Brexit, and the consequential uncertainty of the withdrawal process under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, is likely to have a short- and medium-term impact on enterprise IT investment in the UK. Senior executives will want to prepare their core systems for any implications of revised trading and legislative agreements, and may postpone investment in nonmandatory IT projects such as digital transformation until the needs of the business-as-usual environment become clearer.

IT departments must focus on application changes

For modern business applications, most required changes to business logic in areas such as commerce, tax, and data handling should be possible through configuration rather than customization; however, for older legacy applications, recoding or reworking may be required. Similarly, modern applications, particularly those delivered as cloud services, are upgraded on a more frequent basis, making it easier to add new functionality where this may be required. For older on-premise systems, an upgrade is typically a major undertaking, requiring a significant investment of resource, all of which will put additional burden on IT departments and their budgets.

Ovum’s conversations with enterprise IT leaders suggest that few have planned or prepared for the changes that might be required as a consequence of Brexit. This is understandable given the unprecedented situation in which the UK now finds itself, but is likely to increase the level of caution that is applied to ongoing investments in business improvement and more speculative innovation projects, and may also play out against a potential downturn in the macroeconomic environment. This IT budget uncertainty will persist for at least the two-year EU withdrawal process, but beyond that time frame the level of uncertainty will be dependent on the clarity of the UK’s future trading arrangements with Europe and other global partners.

During the referendum campaign, IT suppliers have, as a group, been strongly in favor of the UK remaining within the EU. This is in part due to the commercial implications for their own businesses, but is also in recognition of the uncertainty for their customers, in areas such as systems preparedness, data protection, IT contract terms, and the physical locations of IT service delivery. Ovum recommends that IT leaders should be proactive in discussing Brexit implications with their strategic suppliers, to create transparency for both sides in terms of business planning, and to minimize any disruption from system changes.

Analyst View – Brexit will have minimal impact on the UK’s regulatory environment

As a result of the vote in a referendum held on June 23, 2016, it is now likely that the UK will start the process that will lead the country to leave the European Union (EU), a move commonly known as “Brexit.” This will not happen overnight because it will require lengthy negotiations, and it is expected to be completed in roughly two years.

However, it is expected that, once completed, Brexit will have little impact on the UK’s regulatory environment.

The EU’s regulatory framework is largely inspired by the UK’s experience of the previous decades

Brexit is likely to have a minimal effect on the UK’s regulatory environment for at least two reasons.

First, it is highly likely that the UK will continue to be part of the European Economic Area (EEA). As other EEA countries do (e.g. Norway), Ofcom will likely follow a regulatory approach very close to the approach stemming from the European Commission’s (EC’s) regulatory framework.

Second, the European approach to regulation actually borrows a great deal from the UK’s experience of privatization and market liberalization. It is unlikely that the UK will adopt a radically different regulatory approach, which will still be characterized by regular market reviews. However, one aspect that could change is the frequency of such reviews, which is currently set at three years for all markets warranting regulation. Ofcom could look to be more flexible about the time frames for reviewing markets once it is no longer bound to the EC’s framework.

Another impact is that UK consumers could lose the benefits of the “roam-like-at-home” regime recently implemented by the EC for international mobile roaming because UK operators will no longer be subject to the EC’s roaming regulation. However, this is an area that could ultimately depend on the UK remaining part of the EEA.

The information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CANTO and/or its members