PM Philips addresses CANTO’s Conference and Trade Exhibition
─ calls on operators, service providers to advance digital evolution
Operators and service providers of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have been called upon to play a greater role in pushing digital evolution to address all inequalities surrounding internet access.
The call was made by Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, as he addressed the opening of the 37th Annual CANTO Conference and Trade Exhibition, Hotel Fontainebleau, Miami Beach on Sunday.
CANTO is a non-profit association which facilitates regional and international ICT projects, discussions and objectives critical to the Caribbean Region.
Prime Minister Phillips who has responsibility for the ICT sector in Guyana, said the goal must be “nothing less than universal service.”
“We would like to see our operators and service providers, many of whom hail from outside of the region, become invested here in much more than the financial sense,” the Prime Minister stated.
He further added that, “we wish for you to become invested in the sustainable development of the countries and communities within which you operate, and from whence you derive value. We would like to see patient investment prioritising long-term returns emanating from the sustainable, resilient economies. We hope to build rather than cash- in on short-term windfalls.”
According to PM Phillips, over four billion people rely on mobile operators to access the internet from the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA). He pointed out that 3.8 billion people remain unconnected and excluded from the benefits of mobile internet and connectivity.
The Prime Minister said governments must commit to developing the infrastructure needed to enable a conducive environment where everyone can utilise ICTs.
Using Guyana as an example, the Prime Minister said government, upon taking office in 2020, liberalised the telecommunications sector. This ended a 30-year monopoly on fixed landline and international long-distance services in the country.
“We have made more spectrum available to the industry, especially in the critical 700MHz band, to increase coverage and enable the deployment of LTE and later generation networks. In pursuit of increased competition, we have commenced a regime for local number portability. In this regard, we are processing an application for the provision of clearing house services with a view to the commencement of the portability regime in the last quarter of this year,” Prime Minister Phillips explained.
He said economies and traditional industries across the region have become heavily reliant on new technologies. Faster internet connections are being demanded as the emergence of new technologies and services enables wider collaboration among regulators, government and operators. He said the forum facilitated by CANTO provides the perfect opportunity for an open conversation to ventilate those critical issues to enable the digital evolution in the region.