Telecom leaders focus on broadband expansionPOSTED: 01/30/12 1:58 PM
Canto-meeting in Maho
St. Maarten- Delegates at the 28th annual general meeting of the Caribbean National Telecommunications Organization Canto will brainstorm how to move forward with three projects to expand broadband access in the region on Tuesday. Delegates from 107 member organizations in 34 countries will be part of the discussion.
The brainstorming will be based on the results of a consultation with regional telecommunications operators and ministers of telecommunications that was funded by the Inter-American Development Bank IDB. The three projects that emerged were the creation of a broadband road map, an inventory of current infrastructure and capacity building in broadband.
The consultation on Tuesday will recognize the current position of each member country especially since some are ahead of the others.
One of the leading countries is St. Maarten which successfully launched 3G services last April, has had an underground fiber cable for several years and is now in discussion with the Dutch government for St. Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and Statia to partner on a new fiber cable to improve data speeds.
“We realize that broadband is necessary but it is expensive and so we are forming consortiums to help bring down the cost for our small communities,” Telem Group’s Chief Financial Officer Helma Etnel said.
Suriname and Guyana have also used the consortium model for fiber through a partnership between TeleSur and the Guyana Telephone Company (GT&T). Their cable runs all the way up to Trinidad and Tobago.
“It’s about connecting people through partnership. We also need to work with communities and small and medium enterprises, especially to make the latter more efficient in the way they do business,” Canto Chairman Dirk Currie said.
Moving forward on broadband is seen as timely because of the advantages that can be obtained from it. These include improving education through amongst other things, e-learning, improving medicine through guided surgeries and the creation of jobs. Suriname has already generated 500 jobs through a call centre.
“St. Maarten also has already opened an internet exchange, which makes things more efficient and faster. Curacao and Aruba have already joined us and now the rest of Canto is looking at it as well,” Etnel said.
Expanding broadband is also part of the recognition that technology is changing lives.
“There’s been a lot of change already. We’ve seen the sector go from monopoly to free market to competition. We also see the migration from voice to data. Canto is supporting our members in making communication more efficient,” Currie said
Etnel added, “We are honored to host this important meeting and we are very happy with the topic. St. Maarten is making a difference. Canto also allows making a fist towards Europe and the United States when we need to.”