Institutions worldwide are finding it hard to keep up with the rapid advances in computer-based technology, and Caribbean Courts are no exception. Judicial Education is urgently needed, according to Belize Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin. Globally, systems of justice are struggling to keep track of the sophisticated, rapidly evolving operations of modern cyber crime.
But one Caribbean nation is tackling the issue head on, providing an interesting pattern for other countries in the region. Belize is taking an important step in responding to cybercrime, by upgrading of the capacity of its judiciary.
"Cybercrime and cyber issues must now have a prominent place in judicial education," said Kenneth Benjamin, Chief Justice of Belize.
In Belize, the legislative framework already supports the admission of evidence electronically. However, no laws are yet on the books to specifically criminalise the growing incidence of Internet-based wrongdoings.
A cybercrime bill is expected to come into force soon, however with that impending legislation, the Chief Justice plans to fast track judicial education, focusing on technology developments generally and cybercrime specifically.
"The introduction of new laws must be accompanied by the development of policy and of regulations guiding the detection, investigation and prosecution of any alleged cyber misdeeds," Benjamin said, adding that only a few judicial officers had already received cybercrime training to date.
OAS Agrees To Support Dominican Republic In Developing National Cyber Security Policy
The Organization of American States (OAS) has agreed to support the Dominican Republic in the development of its National Cyber Security Policy. On Wednesday, the Washington-based hemispheric body signed the agreement with the Dominican Institute of Telecommunications (INDOTEL).
OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, said that, since 2015 the organization has been working with the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country to strengthen its cybersecurity capacity.
"It is an honour to be able to sign this Memorandum of Understanding and, in this
way, support the government in creating an open, accessible and secure digital Dominican Republic," he said.
President of INDOTEL, José del Castillo, said that the agreement seeks to protect and facilitate the secure access of all Dominican Republic nationals to information technologies.
"This reaffirmation of the commitment of cooperation with the OAS for us is very significant at a time when our country is promoting a national programme called 'Digital Dominican Republic,' with four pillars that have as macro objective the access of all Dominicans to the technology of the information," he said.
The OAS said that, through the Cyber Security Program of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE), it is already supporting the Caribbean country in the establishment of a national cyber incident response team (CSIRT), which is one of the components of the "Digital Dominican Republic."
CICTE has already supported Colombia, Jamaica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and Paraguay in developing their national cybersecurity strategies. It is currently collaborating with Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico on similar initiatives.
T&T Citizens To Benefit From Increased Wi-Fi In Public Spaces
Chairman of the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) Gilbert Peterson has said that Trinidad and Tobago is expected to benefit from 45 Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces. He also said the TATT is moving with speed towards the licencing of White Space Devices (WSDs) by September 2017.
Peterson made these comments at Internet of Things (IOT) Smarter Living In The
Caribbean Forum held recently in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
Among those present were the Minister of Public Administration and Communications Maxie Cuffie, International Telecommunications Union Area Representative Cleveland Thomas and Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General Caribbean Telecommunication Union.
The forum's objectives included discussing the role of IOT in relation to converging technologies for building smart sustainable communities with integrated ecosystems. IOT also focused on developmental challenges and the paradigm shift in creating a smart world that facilitates sustainable economic development along with quality lives.
Peterson said: "In June 2008, TATT began the process for universal service towards 100 per cent of the population accessing basic telecommunications and broadcasting services by issuing its first consultative draft document. Not only do we have the relevant regulation, but, we are working to bring Wi-Fi access. The first phase, will see the deployment of free public Wi-Fi hotspots at 45 specific locations throughout T&T. Locations are waiting areas at public hospitals, major transportation hubs, water taxi and ferry docking areas and public libraries."
Peterson added: "In another attempt to connect the unconnected, TATT is moving with speed towards the licencing of White Space Devices (WSDs) by September. We hope WSD technology will help to close the digital divide and provide a medium for more people to benefit from IOTs."
Jamaica To USF To Establish national Public Safety Broadband Network
The Universal Service Fund (USF) is establishing a National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), which will allow government entities to link remotely, thereby improving the efficiency of communication across Government. Chief Executive Officer at the USF, Suzette Buchanan, said that the system will utilise teleconferencing and videoconferencing technologies to provide a uniform communication platform to coordinate activities among ministries, departments and agencies.
She said it will involve the use of government and private-sector owned telecommunication infrastructure to create a single shared communication system to serve public-sector entities.
She noted that the system will save on time and encourage greater efficiency across Government. "If, for example, the prime minister wants to meet with Cabinet, or wants to meet with the parish councils across Jamaica, he can sit where he is, as he does not have to move to the different locations," Buchanan explained.
"With the convergence of the different means of transmitting data, voice data and video can now be used in one continuous stream by all devices," she said. Ms. Buchanan informed that the equipment has already been procured and a schedule is being prepared for the installation.
Buchanan said that the National Works Agency (NWA), which has installed fibre-optic cable across Jamaica, is a key partner with the USF on the initiative. A pilot for the project will be undertaken that will connect the Office of the Prime Minister; Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology and the Ministry of Finance and Public Service. The scope of the project will broaden as time progresses.
Caribbean Governments cannot contain cyber threats single handedly for several reasons. There is need for capacity building and overall public sector awareness, most governments do not have a centralised focus on risk and contingency planning and hence issues associated with cyber security are not prioritised, and overall there is no security programme plan to increase network visibility and control.
In a recent article published in the St. Maarten Daily Herald, Martin Van Nes, an in-depth specialist in combatting cybercrime for the Dutch Caribbean, said cybercrime deserves more attention. “There is insufficient awareness about cybercrime among residents, within the business community, and in Government. There is an increased threat of cyber-attacks and cyber-security should be stepped up,” he said.
Without a dedicated and planned approach we certainly can predict that the national security, public safety and the economic development of our Caribbean governments will be compromised in a time when most islands are facing hard economic times. Choosing to wait and see what happens is not an option. The Panama Papers, the $150M cyber robbery from a Jamaican bank, reports of Isis hijacking regional websites, customers locally and regionally being hit with ransomware attacks are all indicators that we need to adopt a different approach.
It is clear that the Caribbean government are easy targets for several reasons but there is hope. Governments need to implement a Contingency plan that looks at the impact of cyber breaches on national infrastructure. The Caribbean Cyber Security Center (CCSC) has developed such a team to support Caribbean governments in gaining independent validation and verification assessment and guidance to an improved security posture with reduced risks of exploitation.
Without expert collaboration from a team like the CCSC and others, regional governments reduce their ability to respond to cyber threats and will be expose to greater risks online, as perpetrators learn to exploit national and regional information and communication technology weaknesses within the Caribbean one-by-one.
The Government of St. Maarten has taken the proactive approach to tighten up the IT security which has lead to some public sector officers complaining of the restricted access at work. This move was and is necessary to ensure there is greater controlled access to IT systems which hold national security and personal information of the country. Phase two which will occur very soon will be an upcoming conference on cyber security with the goal of having all stakeholders within St. Maarten present to raise the level of awareness.
The conference will be held in collaboration with the Bureau of Telecommunications and Post St. Maarten, the Public Prosecutors Office, the Caribbean Cyber Security Center and other national stakeholders. Additionally, a draft national security action plan will be developed which will be used as a guide for private and public sector organization to ensure the relevant level of security controls are in place to protect systems from digital pirates.
Expose Students To Technology Early, IDB Rep Tells Jamaica
Country representative for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Therese Turner-Jones, says students need to be introduced to emerging technologies at a much younger age if Jamaica hopes to bridge the knowledge gap that now exists between itself and the rest of the world.“It's not okay to say we are better than Trinidad. So what? We want to be better than Finland, which gets the best result in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). That's where we have to take the mindset of education,” Turner-Jones insisted last week at the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.
The IDB country representative was part of a team of stakeholders discussing the education of boys as it relates to the launch the British Council's Boys in Education Week.
“What we are learning about where work is going to be in the next century is not what we are teaching right now — (such as) manufacturing that doesn't involve human beings, agriculture that can be grown in buildings, not on farms — so when you hear about what technology is doing in the rest of the world… Jamaica and the Caribbean are using technology to a little extent, but not to the extent to which we need to be using it. So there is a huge gap in our knowledge base, so it has to start really early,” she said.
“We have to take this subject of education way beyond what our minds can imagine that our kids are going to need to know to function within the next 30 years. The technology is already there; we are way behind. You cannot put kids behind a desk with a chalkboard and talk to them like they are imbeciles… from 18 months old kids are now programming, and we put them in the classroom and are teaching in a way that is sort of arcane,” Turner-Jones stated.
She argued that the Caribbean should focus on fitting into a world that is “all technology”, positing: “If it means we don't need human beings to produce things anymore, we shouldn't be teaching kids multiple timetables — we have calculators to do that, we have algorithms that can solve problems. There are other things we ought to be doing to make sure the brains of our kids are developed to their maximum potential.”
Turner-Jones noted that according to official data, only 30 per cent of students leaving high school qualify to enter tertiary-level institutions. “So they can't get into UWI (University of the West Indies), UTech (the University of Technology), or any of our tertiary institutions because they don't have the credentials. Basically, they have failed high school. Seventy per cent of all the kids in Jamaican high schools face this dilemma — I call it a crisis,” she said.
She said policymakers and other players must seek to improve these outcomes by enhancing teacher quality, the curriculum, and other areas, but that solutions need to be implemented for the stock of people who already cannot take up jobs because they are not qualified.
Commenting on the continued under performance of boys in the education system, Turner-Jones noted that traditionally, STEM attracts more male than female students, but said: “I think that there is something about the way we are teaching kids early on that is not quite teaching the boys.”
At the same time, Turner-Jones said that for better outcomes, it is best to make comparisons with the rest of the world in the testing of students' knowledge and skills when they are measured at an older age, such as 15 for example, rather than at age 11.
The inaugural Boy’s in Education Week ended with a boy’s app development hackathon at UTech. The week was organised by the British Council with support from the IDB. The British Council is a cultural relations organisation that works to promote knowledge sharing and understanding between Jamaica and the United Kingdom, and the rest of the Caribbean.
Participants in the sessions, which was aimed at promoting sustainable solutions to address the current challenges of boys in education, included the Ministry of Education, parents, teachers, and international experts.
EThink Education Is Looking To Expand In The Caribbean and Nigeria
After an agreement that helped it expand in the U.S. last year, eThink Education is moving into the Caribbean and Nigeria.
The Betamore-based edtech company provides hosting and services for Moodle, an open-source education platform. The company recently became a certified Moodle partner for the two international areas. eThink is the first and only company with that status in those regions. “It’s a big step forward,” said CEO Brian Carlson.
Moodle is a platform that helps schools, colleges and even companies organize learning materials online.
“Where we come in as a provider of services is that we’re bringing them a number of different strategies as well as technology to help them radically expand the footprint of how they’re using a digital learning platform to make learning more efficient,” Carlson said.
The company identified the two regions for growth, and partnership status was officially reviewed and granted by Moodle’s headquarters in Australia. In the U.S., most schools already have a learning management system. The adoption is not as wide in the Caribbean and Nigeria, Carlson said. In the Caribbean, eThink is seeking to help colleges more easily share course materials and collaborate through a learning network.
Over the last six months, Carlson said the company is also seeing growth with corporate clients. Companies seek to use Moodle when organizing onboarding of employees, as well as ongoing training.
Jamaican Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, has said that the Data Protection Act is expected to be laid before Parliament for debate within three months.
The Minister, who was making his contribution to the 2017/18 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, said that work on the Bill is “far advanced.”
The Data Protection Act will safeguard, in general, the privacy of individuals in relation to personal data as well as govern the collection, regulation, processing, keeping, use and disclosure of certain information in physical or electronic form.
Dr. Wheatley further informed that the 2015 Cybercrimes Act will be reviewed this financial year, to address concerns about how sections of the law are interpreted and enforced, and a new Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Bill will be tabled.
He said work on the ICT legislation continued in earnest last year, with assistance from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Consultations on the proposed provisions were held with stakeholders in the areas of telecommunications, broadcasting, and subscriber cable operators and a draft ICT Act produced.
Additionally, work will commence for the establishment of a single ICT regulator. Minister Wheatley noted that the sector is governed by several regulators and “this variegated approach to regulation is no longer fit to respond to the converged ICT space or provide the responsive regulation that is required.”
“Consequently, this year, we will begin the process of amalgamating the relevant functions of the regulators to ensure that when the new ICT Act is promulgated, the new regulator is in place to undertake the revised functions,” the Minister said.
Turning to other matters, the Minister informed the House that candidates have been shortlisted for the position of Chief Executive Officer for eGov Jamaica, while the ICT Governance Framework and ICT Council were approved last year.
He said that by the end of April, a Government of Jamaica (GoJ) ICT Think Tank will be launched.
Google just Became The First Foreign Internet Company To Launch in Cuba
Google's servers in Cuba went live on Wednesday, making the internet giant the first foreign internet company to host content within the long cut-off country.
The servers are part of Google's global network of caching servers, called GGC nodes, the servers work by storing popular content — like a viral YouTube video — on a local server. Instead of having to travel the long distance through a submarine cable, which currently connects Cuba to the internet through Venezuela, Cubans will now be able to access content through the nearest Google server in their country.
"I think this will be very noticeable for Cubans," said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Dyn, a global internet monitoring company. "The internet in Cuba will still be a painfully slow process. This is just another somewhat rare step forward. For Google services, which will be hosted in country, it will be a milestone."
Despite hopes that Cuba would begin opening up its internet access following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba in 2015, Cuba still has the lowest level of internet connectivity in the western hemisphere. For most Cubans, the internet can only be accessed through 240 public access wi-fi spots dotted around the country. An hour of internet access costs roughly $1.50, which for Cubans earning the country's average wage of $25 a month, can be prohibitively expensive.
Cuba's State Telecommunications company, Etecsa, recently begun running a pilot program to install internet connections in 2,000 homes throughout the country, but once the pilot is over the service will cost around $15 for 30 hours of internet at a slow speed of 128 kilobytes per second — a similarly off-putting price for most Cubans.
Google acknowledges that the deal won't do much to increase internet access for the average person in Cuba. In a blog post published last December to mark the signing of the deal between Cuba and the tech giant, Google executives wrote, "Cubans who already have access to the internet and want to use our services can expect to see an improvement in terms of quality of service and reduced latency for cached content."
Madory, however, said that it appeared that Google was rolling out the change slowly. When he tested the service on Wednesday morning using a server in Cuba he could access remotely, he was still being directed to Google services outside the country. "I can see the server is there and I can interact with it, but Cubans are not yet getting automatically connected to it."
Girls In ICT Day Marked By Hackathons Across The Caribbean
On Thursday girls and young women from 15 Jamaican schools gathered to compete in a Caribbean Hackathon in observance of the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) Girls in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Day.
The girls and young women were engaged in hands-on activities, guided by a tech mentor, using ICT to create, innovate and generate solutions to various challenges. The activities included mobile app building, animation, robotics, digital video production and digital art works, and web development.
The day-long immersion in ICT, the ‘hackathon’ will give the girls and young women, an opportunity to envision themselves, not only as users of technology, but creators.
The ‘hackathon’, led by a group of women consultants through a joint partnership between Cotton Tree Consulting and Change Makers Development Ltd, will take place simultaneously, in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
“Scotiabank is pleased to be part of an initiative that will inspire and excite our girls through their engagement with technology. This unique opportunity is one we are sure will not only encourage interest but ultimately galvanise the talent of Jamaican women in the development of the ICT industry,” said Yanique Forbes Patrick, vice-president of marketing at Scotiabank, regional platinum sponsor of the hackathon.
The event was also supported regionally by Gold Sponsor LOOP in partnership with the University of the West Indies.
The PitchIT Caribbean Challenge is the biggest tech-entrepreneurship competition and showcase to be held in the Caribbean, and is to be held in St. Kitts and Nevis. Twenty-Five (25) entrepreneurs will travel to St. Kitts and Nevis to participate in the PitchIT Challenge Bootcamp. With the help of international and regional coaches, ten (10) finalists will be selected to pitch their business idea to a panel of business experts and investors.
Five (5) winners will each receive the following, valued at over USD$15,000: – US$5,000 in cash to be disbursed in two tranches based on the successful submission of required documents. – US$5,000 worth of coaching and mentoring. - US$4,000 valued trip to international pitching event (Demo Trek). – At least US$1,000 worth of online training, Access to facilities and back office services, where necessary.
ECLAC Assists Cayman Islands With New National Energy Policy
ECLAC’s contribution to the new policy was made through a joint initiative carried out with the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), aimed at promoting energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy technologies in the Caribbean. The policy also addresses support for increased energy security by reducing reliance on imported fossil based fuels.
In addition to decreased energy costs, the Cayman Islands’ goals for its energy sector include increased environmental sustainability, and a contribution to the economic development of the energy industry. The new NEP recommends that 70% of the islands’ total electricity generation should come from renewable energy sources by the year 2037.
In addition to boosting the use of renewable energy sources within the next 20 years, the policy also seeks to cut individual carbon dioxide emissions by more than two-thirds by 2037.
It is proposed that the policy be reviewed every five years, not only to monitor and report on progress, but also to reset the targets and implementation plans in recognition of opportunities that will arise from the constantly changing technological environment.
New Technology To Help Safeguard Caribbean Banks
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) sub-regional headquarters in the Caribbean has declared that block chain technology, a recent development in the field of financial technology, could be a possible solution to problems surrounding de-risking and the navigation of correspondent banking relationships.
An ECLAC report says that while there are still a number of issues to be resolved with the new technology, it could allow Caribbean banks to bypass correspondent banks altogether, in the process reducing transaction costs and increasing efficiency.
De-risking is a term used to describe the practice whereby correspondent banks, and large international banking institutions which provide banking services to smaller financial institutions, sever ties with financial institutions.
This happens in cases where they consider the risk of non-compliance with regulations intended to prevent money laundering and financing of terrorism to be too high compared to the returns. De-risking is affecting small and developing economies around the world but the small economies in the Caribbean have been among the hardest hit.
According to the report, a block chain is the implementation of cryptographic technology which enables data to be shared across a network of computers controlled by multiple organisations and individuals.
Cryptography is a method of storing and transmitting data in a secure form so only those for whom the information is intended can receive, read and process it. In its latest report, ECLAC says this new technology may offer an alternative means for financial service institutions to support cross-border transactions.
The report says the technology seems to have the potential to address the problem of de-risking by using an appropriately designed block chain-based settlement network to offer tools to improve surveillance of transactions, which would enable the detection of illicit financial transfers and thereby decrease risk and associated compliance costs.
CANTO Chairman Speaks At The Forum For The 'Internet of Things': Smarter Living In The Caribbean
Ahead of CANTO's 33rd Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition, to be held in the Dominican Republic, under theme, Reimagining ICT as a Tool for National Growth & Development in mid-July. The CANTO Chairman, Julian Wilkins spoke at the Forum for the “Internet of Things” (IoT): Smarter Living in the Caribbean.
The event was co-organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in partnership with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT), the UWI St. Augustine Campus and the Caribbean Telecommunication Union (CTU).
The Chairman was a panelist at the session entitled: IoT Security and Privacy, Policy, Legislation, Regulation and Infrastructure.
Wilkins emphasized that there is disparity between traditional operators and Over The Top Providers – OTTs - in the Caribbean. He mentioned that the European Union has recently published a proposal for 'regulation of Privacy and security rules for Over-the-top (OTT) players' thereby moving to eliminate the disparity between traditional operators and OTTs.
The Chairman concluded that from a global perspective regulators are starting to review existing regulatory frameworks to take account of OTTs in particular, data privacy and security.
One week before International Girls in ICT Day, Nuria Simo, Chief Information Officer and General Manager, Department of Information Technology of the Inter-American Bank (IDB), says the time is ripe to see more women holding leadership positions in T&T’s ICT sector. She made this statement during her recent visit to the American Chamber of Commerce T&T’s office in Port-of-Spain.
Following Simo’s meeting with senior female ICT executives fron AmCham’s member companies, the business organisation and the IDB launched their Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme.
Addressing the group of leading women in the field of Information Technology, Simo led the discussion on the challenges she and many other women face when navigating the ladder of success.
“We need role models for girls and young women to see that it is possible to be successful in senior ICT positions,” she said.
The mentorship programme, which will be done in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, seeks to pair five mentees with senior regional professionals in the fields of science, information technology and economics.
The mentors were selected from the IDB’s vast network of professionals, an organisation which is known for its stance on gender parity in the workplace. AmCham’s CEO Nirad Tewarie said: “This initiative is an extension of the theme of our recently concluded Women’s Leadership Seminar held in February, under the hashtag #BeBoldForChange.
Tewarie continued, “We are ensuring that we make a conscious effort to not only add to the discussion but to be part of the solution.”
He went to say, “We are fully committed to seeing this through along with our partner the IDB, and it is our hope that this pilot project can serve as a template that other business service organisations can adopt and that we can expand.”
Jamaican Minister Ties ICT Achievements To Huge Spending
Jamaican Energy, Science and Technology Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley announced on Tuesday the rollout of additional access points for free public Wi-Fi, as he highlighted other achievements in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) field.
The minister announced the developments — which include free Wi-Fi in public spaces and broadband connections in educational institutions — during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament.
As it relates to the Universal Service Fund ConnectJa public Wi-Fi programme, Wheatley announced that four other arears will enjoy free Wi-Fi access. The USFConnectJa programme was launched last year when free public Wi-Fi networks were installed at Devon House and Mandela Park (HWT) at a cost of over JA$4M.
The minister disclosed that the coming months will see the continued rollout of public Wi-Fi both in urban and rural areas. The project is designed to provide greater and easier access to broadband internet service for Jamaicans across the island.
“This initiative is expected to fuel the government’s plans of creating a knowledge-based society by removing any barrier that currently exists for citizens who may be unable to afford connectivity,” Wheatley said Tuesday.
The total number of broadband connections completed by government as at March 31st stood at 430, which includes 212 educational institutions, 41 library sites, 68 post offices, 60 Ministry of Health sites and 49 Jamaica Constabulary Force sites.
The minister said 12 special projects were completed for the fiscal year 2016/2017. He disclosed that millions were spent to help upgrade and improve the ICT infrastructure of the following service entities: Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI), College of Agriculture Science and Education (CASE), MICO University, University of Technology (UTECH),
He said the Mico University “well advanced” in its plans to become the main hub for ICT teacher training in the Caribbean. He said this is made possible by funding from the USF of US$358,150 to establish 12 smart class rooms throughout the campus and for the installation of campus-wide Wi-Fi networks.
The USF contributed JA$20M for the upgrading of the Wi-Fi network infrastructure throughout the campus of the UTECH.
ALIV Challenges BTC Statement On Network Sharing
Former cellular monopolist the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and mobile newcomer Aliv have locked horns over a long-delayed co-location agreement, after a press release by the former was immediately contradicted by the latter. In a statement released by BTC last week, the operator announced that it had signed an agreement for tower sharing with Aliv, allowing the new entrant to offer mobile services in areas where it has yet to complete its own infrastructure rollout.
According to the statement, BTC would charge Aliv a ‘nominal fee’ for the use of its mobile sites, with the smaller company operating as an MVNO in such areas. BTC noted that whilst it would receive ‘some level of compensation,’ it stressed that the payment ‘pales in comparison to the investment that we have made over the many years we have provided services’. As such, the incumbent suggested that Aliv’s participation in the sector was not fair and did not represent ‘competition in its true essence.’
BTC added that it had received co-location requests for more than 30 sites across Andros and Grand Bahama as well as numerous sites in Abaco, Acklins, Berry Island among others.
In a rebuttal to BTC’s statement, Aliv revealed that it had not signed an agreement, having only received the final terms of the co-location from BTC the day before BTC published its statement. Consequently, Aliv is still reviewing the document to ensure that the offer met its requirements. For its part, Aliv also pointed out that BTC has dragged its feet on the matter, noting in its statement: ‘We have been waiting for these final terms since summer 2016, when we first and proactively requested co-location from BTC. We welcome BTC’s recent decision to provide co-location to Aliv, despite the length of time that this has taken.’
The newcomer also took issue with the accuracy of other parts of BTC’s statement, with Aliv keen to dispute BTC’s claim that it would only receive a nominal fee for co-location. Aliv would instead be paying a ‘market rate’ for its use of the sites: ‘In line with the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) regulations, the rate that BTC will charge Aliv is the same rate offered to other such third parties currently using BTC sites in a similar fashion’. Finally, Aliv CEO Damian Blackburn refuted BTC’s claim that its smaller rival would be operating as an MVNO on its network, saying: I would like to assure the people of the Bahamas that this is not an MVNO agreement where the MVNO leases the network from a mobile operator. Instead, this agreement will enable Aliv to deploy its world-class LTE network on every island, rock and cay of the Bahamas, and BTC will earn the industry standard market rate in return for use of its towers.’
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Mr Blackburn indicated in late March that BTC had yet to comply with an order from the regulator to provide Aliv with a national roaming service for a two-year period, whilst the latter completed the rollout of its own infrastructure. Telecoms watchdog URCA also encouraged the two mobile providers to share infrastructure wherever possible, but the official claims BTC has been slow to cooperate with the newcomer, forcing it revert to its original plan to simply rollout all new infrastructure.