US gov’t and Jamaica partner for high-speed internet deployment | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News | Loop News

Experts from the US Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) partnered with the Spectrum Management Authority and other technology agencies within the Government of Jamaica to expand and expedite high-speed broadband internet to underserved communities in the country.

During a workshop hosted in Kingston, CLDP brought together representatives of the Jamaican Spectrum Management Authority, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), and other governmental agencies to hear from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, and the Wireless Internet Service Provider Association.

Day one of the conference focused on rural connectivity through private sector solutions, while the second day will cover governmental programs such as the FCC’s Universal Service Fund.

The keystone of the event was the signing of a memorandum of understanding, featuring the FCC Chairwoman, Jessica Rosenworcel, the US Embassy Kingston, Charge d’Affaires, John McIntyre, and SMA Managing Director, Dr Maria Myers Hamilton. The MoU creates a framework for future collaboration between the two agencies and memorializes the strong interest to continue working closely together on common ICT objectives.

This workshop followed an initial October 2021 roundtable discussion in Washington, DC, during which the Government of Jamaica along with the US Government and industry leaders discussed the benefits of 5G and issues related to network security and supplier diversity, including Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN).

At the conclusion of the event, the Jamaican government finalized a Declaration of Principles on 5G Cooperation with the United States. Funding for the engagements was made possible by the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership, a U.S. Government initiative to help partner countries harness the power of an open, reliable, and secure digital economy.

The SMA has been working closely with the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology (MSET) and other key stakeholders to develop strategic protocols to address Jamaica’s connectivity needs and plan for future innovations.

Recent milestones include the 700 Mhz tender, whereby the winning bidder will be obliged to invest more than J2.25 billion (US$14.75 million) in building out their 4G network infrastructure, a landmark development which has served to increase competition in the Jamaican mobile market, bring coverage to underserved areas and generate revenue for the treasury.

The National Broadband Connectivity Plan, implemented by MSET in consultation with the Office of the Prime Minister in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19)pandemic, also ensured access to educational content for over 400,000 students restricted at home for an extended period, while simultaneously providing broadband connectivity to Health Centres and Hospitals across the country. The ministry is coordinating this initiative in collaboration with the SMA, private telecommunications network operators, cable television operators, broadcasters, eGov Jamaica Limited and the National Works Agency.

This week’s engagements are expected to assist Jamaican officials in their continued efforts to improve islandwide connectivity and encourage the private sector to build a more resilient and robust communications network, which is paramount to economic development and public safety. These meetings also laid the groundwork for future collaborations between the two governments on network security and supplier diversity, critical components of universal deployment of broadband services.

Funding for the engagements was made possible by the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership, a US whole of government initiative to help partner countries harness the power of an open, reliable, and secure digital economy and promote state-of-the-art, secure, diverse, and resilient infrastructure improvements; pro-competitive legal and regulatory reforms consistent with democratic and free-market values; policy approaches that facilitate innovation and investment from the United States and like-minded countries; and cybersecurity practices in line with international best practices.