On taking the chairmanship, with support from fellow ministers of communications from Antigua, Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, AG Byron spoke of some of the challenges facing the group during the 32nd Meeting of the ECTEL Council of Ministers
He said, “We all face similar issues; issues that are, in some cases, very challenging and require that we take very deliberate and serious consideration of these matters. I believe that we in the Eastern Caribbean are at the crossroads in relation to the direction we take when it comes to the telecommunications sector.”
The new chairman outlined some of the matters the Council will address in their meeting, including the following: The merger of Cable and Wireless and Columbus Communications; the EC Bill and the Treaty between the various countries; Spectrum Management and Monitoring Systems that relate to broadcast and other types of telecommunications, and the matter of number portability.
Speaking specifically about St. Kitts and Nevis, Byron said the merger between Cable & Wireless and Columbus International will soon see the launch of the new branded entity in the federation.
Chairman Byron noted, “We hope that it is done in a proper way, that this entity will abide by the existing regulations and our statutes.”
He stated, “We’ll want to welcome this new body in a way that we feel happy and comfortable with them. We as a people want the best possible quality of service at reasonable rates, proper rates, as establish by the regulators. We hope that these very basic principles are not violated in any of our territories.”
Several members of the Council expressed the view that ECTEL must be prepared to secure the gains made in the telecommunications sector in the Eastern Caribbean, and that it was important not to allow retrogressive situations to succeed.
Byron echoed these views succinctly, “We will look to our ECTEL and our local NTRCs to be more proactive, and if needs be to give them the necessary muscle to regulate the sector in a firm way, fairly, within the very parameters that are set out in our laws.”
ECTEL is also celebrating its 15th Anniversary and will host a public forum on Thursday evening (Oct. 15), 7 pm, at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College. The Keynote Speaker is Dr. Hopeton Dunn, chairman of the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica, and director of CARIMAC, UWI.
On Friday 16, ECTEL and the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) will hold a Public Fair in Independence Square from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm.
An ECTEL officer said, “The goal of the public fair is to bring increased public awareness to the roles and responsibilities of both ECTEL and the NTRC. As part of the fair, ECTEL and the NTRC will have brochures, displays, demonstrations and a question-and-answer segment.