|French Guiana to tender US$90mn submarine cable to Europe – Caribbean, French Guiana|
|French Guiana to tender US$90mn submarine cable to Europe – Caribbean, French Guiana
French Guiana has launched a tender to build and operate a submarine cable connecting it to Europe with an estimated value of 80mn euros (US$89mn).
The local authority of French Guiana (Collectivité Territoriale de Guyane) has put together a consortium called Splang (Societé Publique Locale pour l’Amènagement Numérique de la Guyane) from which all documents can be downloaded and with whom the corresponding consultations can be made.
According to the invitation for the tender, the system required would have the capacity for high-speed and secure broadband.
The fiber optic network would have a landing point in Kourou and an optional landing point at Saint Laurent-du-Maroni, both in French Guiana.
The deadline for the submission of bids, in French, is September 21, 2016. The concession contract would commence in December and end on November 14, 2031.
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In January, French telecoms regulator Arcep called for bids for a tender to auction spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands that remains unassigned in France’s five overseas departments: Guadeloupe-Martinique, St Barthélemy-St Martin, French Guiana, Réunion and Mayotte.
Net neutrality, universal services fund spark debate among Caribbean telcos – Regional
Management of universal access funds and net neutrality are two of the main components of a controversial proposed telecommunications bill for the eastern Caribbean nations that is likely to generate heated debate at this year’s Caribbean telecoms association (Canto) conference, taking place in Puerto Rico this week.
Canto chairman Julian Wilkins, who is also head of public policy at Irish-owned mobile operator Digicel, told BNamericas that this year’s conference would be much more regulation-centric than in previous years, when it has been more technology oriented.
Canto is particularly concerned about a communications bill being proposed by The Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (Ectel), which proposes to increase the powers of the central body that oversees the individual regulators (NTRCs) in Grenada, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia and St Kitts & Nevis.
UNIVERSAL SERVICES FUND
Ectel wants to increase the contribution that telcos make to the universal services fund (USF) from 1% of their annual income to 2% over the next four years, as well as creating a reserve fund.
However, according to Wilkins, the Ectel nations have not demonstrated that they are investing the funds they have already collected over the last seven years since the USF was set up in telecoms infrastructure and have thus not justified the need for additional funding.
“We need to keep a cool head when talking to these regulators, but we need to point out that they’re just not spending the money. And now they want to put the tax up. This takes the biscuit,” Wilkins said.
According to the executive, only St Vincent and the Grenadines has made any progress over the seven years since the funds were set up, investing 76% of the total collected. Meanwhile, Grenada has disbursed less than 1%, St Lucia (4%), Dominica (15%) and St Kitts & Nevis (15.5%).
The other issue the new legislation would seek to implement is strict net neutrality regulation, which would require network operators to treat all internet traffic the same.
Wilkins fears that Ectel is following the lead of the United States, which introduced net neutrality regulation in June last year, but without properly thinking the rules through and whether they should be applied to small Caribbean island nations.
Net neutrality is a hotly debated topic all over the world and “the Caribbean region has much to gain by adopting a more considered approach as there is time to see where the various debates lead,” Wilkins said.
“A more sophisticated response is required – one which intervenes no more than it needs to and allows sufficient flexibility for the markets to respond to changing services and consumer demands,” he said.
The debate of how to regulate over-the-top players will return this year, with the operators likely to claim that OTT providers should pay for licenses and pay taxes if they wish to compete head on.
“OTTs must recognize that the internet is not a “free for all… that same rules should apply for the same services,” Wilkins said, adding that the priority should be to produce transparent regulations that prioritize investment.
Latin America to have 32% gap of skilled ICT professionals in 2019 – Regional
Aug. 4, 2016
In Latin America the demand for skilled ICT professionals will surpass the supply by 449,000 full-time employees by 2019, according to the Network Skills in Latin America study by IDC commissioned by Cisco. This gap makes companies and governments face the challenge of finding the right skills set to leverage innovation for global competitiveness.
According to the Inter American Development Bank (IDB), on average, countries in Latin America that increase broadband penetration by 10 percent have associated increases of 3.19 percent in GDP and 2.61 percent in productivity. This is the reason why, which is why it is important to have a joint effort from the academic, government and private sectors to contribute in the improvement of the number of skilled professionals that will help accelerate economic growth, improve productivity and create new jobs.
The Networking Skills in Latin America study analyzed the availability of skilled ICT professionals in Latin America between 2015 and 2019 across 10 countries. In 2015, there was a gap of 474,000 networking professionals in the region, and despite the slight decrease of 1.4 percent in the forecasted demand in 2019, the evolution of the networks and the path to digitization represent new challenges for the skilled professionals required to develop and manage robust and flexible network infrastructures.
The emerging networking technology requires skilled workers in video, cloud, mobility, datacenter and virtualization, big data, cybersecurity, IoT, and software development, besides the basic or core networking skills – such as basic router and switch skills, network security, wireless networking, and unified communications and collaboration.
Additionally, the required ICT professionals must develop other nontechnical skills, such as proficiency in the English language, teamwork, problem solving, project management, creativity and innovation, communications skills and an entrepreneur attitude. This fact demonstrates that network professionals need to combine technical and nontechnical skills to support an increasingly complex business environment.
Another fact measured in the study is related to inclusion of women. On average, female participation in networking teams of organizations is 13.3 percent; currently 15.7 percent of companies have no women at all present in their network teams. According to UNESCO, women account for 31 percent of total enrollment in Computing Science and Engineering majors in Latin America. There is still room for improvement in Latin America in this area.
IDC conducted 760 interviews in 10 countries in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. Interviews were segmented by vertical industry and size segments: government, health care, education, telecoms, financial services, manufacturing, retail/wholesale, media/broadcasting and publishing, travel, transportation and distribution, resources and services in companies with more than 100 employees.
Respondents were selected based on their responsibility for network infrastructure and management of professionals involved in network design, operation and maintenance, deployment, and support.
The interviews were conducted in the native language of the respondents (Spanish and Portuguese). To estimate the gap in networking skills, IDC designed a model that considered ongoing IDC research practices around networking and information technologies as well as data sources with the results from the interviews to provide an accurate view of the supply and demand of skills.
“Companies like Cisco, as well as governments, educational institutions, and other organizations, all have a role to play if we are to succeed. We must work together to develop regional expertise and capacity that enables all people – regardless of socio-economic background or gender — to master, succeed, and lead in the digitized economy,” said Tae Yoo, SVP, corporate affairs at Cisco.
“By embracing digitization, Latin America can become a leader in the next generation of jobs, social inclusiveness, research, and education. But we need to work together to fill the skills gap within Latin America,” said Jordi Botifoll, Cisco Latin America president.
“One way to do this is through the Cisco Networking Academy. The Academy partners with learning institutions, community centers and governments to offer technical training and professional skills development training,” Botifoll said.
Costa Rica kicks off leftover spectrum tender – Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s telecoms regulator Sutel has published the bidding rules for a tender to auction the 70Mhz of spectrum that was left over from the auction in 2010-2011.
The spectrum consists of 2x20MHz in the 1800MHz and 2x15MHz in the 1900/2100MHz bands and is due to be awarded in the first half of 2017. The bidding rules can be accessed here.
Costa Rica was one of the last countries in Latin America to liberalize its mobile telephony market in 2011 when it awarded spectrum to Claro (América Móvil) and Movistar (Telefónica) that entered the market to compete with state telco ICE. Though the auction was also intended for a third bidder, no company participated.
The spectrum offered in the previous auction was three blocks of 2x5MHz, 2x55MHz and 2x40MHz in the 850MHz, 1800MHz and 1900/2100MHz bands.
Participants will be able to bid for seven blocks of (2xMHz) spectrum according to their needs.
According to the bidding rules, participants will select the amount of spectrum they need and the final price they are prepared to pay.
Sutel will deploy specific software to determine the winners with the aim of streamlining the process and improving transparency.
The concession licenses will be for 15 years. Participants need to have five years of experience as a telecoms operator in at least one country, which opens up the potential for new entrants.
Last year, Sutel carried out market probes to determine whether there was fair competition in the market four years after its liberalization and whether it was time to deregulate mobile rates.
Sutel determined that since liberalization, penetration of mobile telephony had increased from 69% in 4Q10 to 141% in 2Q15, with some 7mn mobile lines, while mobile data penetration was a 90% at the end of 2015.
The new entrants have each obtained market shares of more than 40%, thus putting pressure on the incumbent ICE.
SES completes acquisition of O3b – Regional
Global satellite operator SES has completed the acquisition of 100% of medium earth orbit (MEA) satellite broadband provider O3b.
In early July, SES said it had all the necessary approvals to exercise its option to acquire the remaining 49.1% shares of the company for US$730mn. SES will consolidate US$1.2bn of O3b’s net debt.
SES expects to generate 53mn euros of annual commercial, operational, product development and financial synergies in 2017, increasing to 106mn euros annually by 2021.
Jersey-based O3b, which stands for the “other 3bn” people who live in remote areas that do not have access to broadband, was formed in 2007.
O3b satellites, which are closer to the Earth than traditional GEO satellites, reduce latency, increase internet speed and improve voice and video quality for the user.
So far the company has launched 12 satellites and is planning to launch another four in 2018.
“The acquisition of O3b – the fastest growing satellite network – significantly enhances SES’s long-term growth profile, with the constellation expected to generate annualized revenues of between US$32mn and US$36mn per satellite at steady-state,” commented SES CFO Padraig McCarthy in a release last month.
O3b already has several contracts in Latin America, including with telecoms operator Entel to cover Easter Island and with Ecuadoran state telco CNT to offer broadband internet to the Galápagos Islands.
Elsewhere in Latin America, O3b has contracts with Ozônio Telecomunicações for Brazil’s Amazon region, Skynet Colombia for the Colombian Amazon, and Guyana’s ISP E-Networks.
It also has a contract with cruise line operator Royal Caribbean, providing “smart” cruise ship capacity.
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