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This is Russell Williams reporting on day two of CANTO’s 33rd Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic

Regulation of the Converged Economy

What is Convergence?

Convergence once referred to the merging Voice and Data and perhaps TV over fixed broadband then coined as “Triple Play”. However today we have triple play or even “quad-play” over mobile, and the consumption of content from outside national borders. Many consumers don’t watch TV from traditional cable or broadcast providers which presents challenges not only for the traditional providers but to governments in terms of how these services and service providers are regulated.

But looking ahead, convergence is taking place in sectors never before considered such as health, in the automotive or transport sectors, and in the home. The promise of the connected or smart home, through the potential of the Internet of Things referred to as IoT, poses a number of questions as to whether these services should be regulated and if so how?

Regulatory Issues

Great emphasis on day two of the the conference, was given to the regulation of the Over-The-Top services providers.  There was debate on the role of regulators and different approaches were needed and the resultant impact the market. Topics also included the sharing of infrastructure and “Smart Regulation”.

The incumbent service providers were keen to call for the “non-resident digital service providers to be brought into the tax net” in order to provide revenues for governments around the region to pay teachers and nurses and other essential government services.

But matters of spectrum management and regulation also surfaced. Spectrum is the term used to describe the electro-magnetic frequencies used by electronic devices to send data between each other.

The Ministerial Roundtable

The Ministerial Roundtable provided an insight of the developments taking place in four of the smaller islands in the Caribbean, namely Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Carriacou, Montserrat and Saint Kitts and Nevis.  The respective Ministers of Telecommunications addressed a wide range of issues from regulation of the OTTs and their use of private data, cyber-security and the management of spectrum.

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Attorney General and Minister of Telecommunications Hon. Vincent Byron, spoke of the ongoing developments to develop the new Telecommunications Act in the Eastern Caribbean or ECTEL member states.

The ECTEL countries have been negotiating and discussing with Digicel, Cable & Wireless and others the actual form that the new Electronic Communications Bill should take. And we are hopeful that while there are still some concerns Buy some of the service providers that we can have a consensus and agree on the proper balance that will allow all of us to have a win-win situation,  As we move forward with the new introduction of the Electronic Communications bill. It is the basis on which we will look at the Quality of Service issues and regulations and address any questions on roaming and so forth.