The Ministry of Telecommunications has invited the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) to clearly demonstrate that it has the network capacity to ensure that the people of Guyana have access to quality data services.
According to the ministry, the request was made to guarantee that the Guyanese people would not be adversely affected by a cessation of a bypass link Digicel is accused of having to Suriname.
GT&T in a statement on Saturday had accused its telecommunications counterpart, Digicel, of having an illegal, unlicensed trans-border link between Guyana and Suriname. GT&T said that it knows the bypass is causing very real and significant harm to Guyana, costing the country about US$30M over the last five years.
However, according to the Ministry, its intention is to arrive at a resolution that will be in the best interest of the people of Guyana. The entity said that the claims made against Digicel have proven to be a complex matter, exacerbated by demands of the market for adequate voice and data services.
The statement read, “Among the issues to be considered are whether GT&T has sufficient data capacity to meet the needs of the market and the degree of congestion of its network.”
The Ministry stressed that its request of GT&T to show proof of its ability to properly serve the Guyanese people should not be interpreted as condoning the illegal activity.
Ultimately, the Ministry of Public Telecommunications which is headed by Minister Cathy Hughes said that to prevent the resurgence of similar claims by telecommunications companies against their competitors, there should be a fully liberalised and competitive sector.
The Jamaica Library Service Embraces the Use Of Technology In Its Service Delivery
Jamaica’s library community has been evolving and remains quite relevant in a technologically-driven society through the array of services it offers to meet the demands of users.
The Jamaica Library Service (JLS) offers free access to computers, internet and other electronic resources to enable persons to utilize a range of informational, educational and recreational resources.
The Service consists of 119 fixed locations, with a mobile library service which caters to some 370 communities island wide. More than 600 JLS staff members participated in customer service, digital literacy and social media courses, while some 2,000 library users received training in basic computer and digital literacy.
Additionally, well-trained computer specialists are available in the thirteen parish library networks to ensure that technical problems are solved quickly and users enjoy reliable and efficient computer services. Basic computer training is also offered to members of the public.
Director General at the JLS, Karen Barton, said that through a US$2-million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Libraries Initiative, and US$1.1 million from the Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, that the library’s services have gone way beyond just lending books, and now expands to meeting the demands of the entire community.
Ms. Barton explained “We are expecting to reach as many Jamaicans as possible, who have access to all our libraries and mobile units. We are also on a mission to increase our membership as many persons feel that the library is just about books, but the library is more like the community hub, where you can fulfil educational and academic needs and so, we are targeting a large number of persons in order for the community to be transformed through technology,”
On April 1st, the JLS implemented an Integrated Library Management System (ILMS) called Koha, to improve the efficiency of the library’s operations as well as service for users. Koha, an automated open-source management system will allow library users to obtain access to search online catalogues from anywhere in the world.
Jamaica's USF To Provide Wifi Downtown and Olympic Gardens
The Universal Service Fund (USF) continues its quest to provide 100 per cent Internet penetration across Jamaica with Wi-Fi hotspots to be provided at the St William Grant Park in downtown Kingston and in Olympic Gardens.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the USF, Suzette Buchanan, said that in addition to fulfilling its mandate, she hopes these hotspots will also assist in facilitating entrepreneurship.
She explained that the Olympic Gardens should be a busy commercial area shortly and, as such, “the hotspot being created there, is to complement the entertainment activities along the thoroughfare, and to also assist in providing income for small entrepreneurs in the vicinity”.
“We have St William Grant Park, which will also provide connectivity to the market,” she said, adding that the hotspots should be functioning by the first week in April.
Additionally, the CEO said that there are plans to provide hotspots in Spanish Town, St Catherine; Mandeville in Manchester; and Junction in St Elizabeth. “Based on our research, our findings indicate that even though Jamaicans have devices, a very small percentage of these individuals are connected,” she said.
“We want to encourage Jamaicans to utilise their online services. If you are paying your taxes, you can pay it online, and you can also visit our Government websites to see what is available to you, to keep yourself updated and to be educated,” Buchanan added.
The USF started providing free Wi-Fi in public spaces in late 2016 and has already provided free Wi-Fi at Devon House in Kingston as well as the Mandela Park in Half-Way Tree square.
PWC Works With Bitt To Propel The Caribbean's Digital Evolution
The Barbados-based FinTech company, Bitt Inc. and the professional services firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) announced that they have executed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) whereby the two entities, while remaining independent, will work together to deepen the use of blockchain technology across the Caribbean.
The MOU is with respect to advisory services that PwC may provide to companies seeking to utilize blockchain technology, including those relating to the advancement of Bitt services such as the use of electronic money, digitalfiat currency, block-chain technology, and virtual currency services throughout the Caribbean.
“This understanding firmly places Bitt and PwC as the drivers of the regional re-design of the Caribbean’s financial services using blockchain technology,” said Gabriel Abed, Bitt’s CEO and Co-Founder.
Commercial banks, central banks and other institutions seeking to pilot Bitt’s software will benefit from access to PwC’s deep, global FinancialTechnology expertise in blockchain research and knowledge, marketplace strategy, operational readiness and technology services.
Oliver Jordan, PwC Partner and lead for Advisory services in the East Caribbean, said, “We at PwC see enormous potential for blockchain in financial services to which end we developed the strategic and implementation capabilities necessary to help financial institutions, technology companies and startups take advantage of this transformative technology.”
“We have agreed to work alongside Bitt on future institutional blockchain technology implementations by, for example, central banks, commercial banks and government institutions throughout the region because not only does blockchain offer the promise of cost reduction and efficiency, but it could also enable revenue growth, and higher-quality service. Across the PwC Global network, we have already seen enormous potential for blockchain to deliver substantial value to financial services- and we intend to continue to lead the way across the financial services landscape in the Caribbean,” he added.
Globally, PwC offers ‘Blockchain Services‘ and has developed the strategic and implementation capabilities necessary to help financial institutions, technology companies and startups take advantage of this transformative technology.
Bitt’s vision is to provide the Caribbean with access to innovative software that improves efficiency and ease of money transfer throughout the Caribbean and beyond.