Jamaica’s National Regulator for Radio Frequency Spectrum Lobbying For New Legislation

Managing Director of Spectrum Management Authority, Dr. Maria Myers-Hamilton (centre), in discussion with Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams (left), and Federal Communications Commission representative, Brian Carter. (Credit: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday October 15, 2019 – The Spectrum Management Authority (SMA), the national regulator for the radio frequency spectrum in Jamaica, will be lobbying for new legislation to advance the digital industry.

Emphasizing the need to update legislation to tackle current spectrum policy and regulatory issues Managing Director of SMA, Dr Maria Myers-Hamilton said it would allow for a more efficient transition to digitization and connectivity of the local spectrum landscape, as well as facilitate improved regulation and management of the digital industry.

“One of the things we have heard is we (Jamaica) have outdated regulations. We have an Act that is from 1973. We have legislation sitting there that is holding back persons. So, a lot of work needs to be done. We need to move at a faster rate in terms of putting in, and tabling the legislation driving the economy,” she argued.

“As the experts in the field, because we are the advisors to the Minister when it comes to radio frequency, we are moving toward the writing of policy and recommendations to the Ministry to consider change.”

Dr Myers-Hamilton further noted that the transition from analogue to digital systems will allow for more investment and expansion in the market, and this will provide stronger connectivity to Jamaicans living in both urban and rural areas.

“The Government of Jamaica has to sit down around the table with stakeholders once again and decide how we move forward. I think we have a lot of critical data which we are going to be encapsulating in a report from our rapporteurs that we will put toward to the Government and the Ministry, to effect policy and change going forward,” she said.

SMA chairman Edward Gabbidon, meantime, has called for public-private partnerships to leverage technology to enable Jamaicans to participate fully in the digital age. 

Chairman of Spectrum Management Authority, Edward Gabbidon. (Credit: JIS)

According to him, the nation risks creating a class of people that are alienated and isolated from the new economy, due to their geographical location.

“We are a small country, but we are a proud one and we have the ability to do great things. We are great at sports, we are great at music, but we are leaving a section of the population out, because they have no access to the super highway,” he argued.

Gabbidon stressed that accessible technology is the key to unlocking doors of opportunities that may have been previously closed to persons in unserved and underserved communities.

“Technology is one that we can share in every sphere and that is communication, entertainment, health, education and training. If we leverage this the right way, a young Jamaican with high hopes in (any rural area) will be able to access an education from France or Germany. We will be able to bring technology to those who need it most. We will expose our nation to things that they need, without them leaving their geographic location,” he said.

The SMA is an agency of the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology and it facilitates expansion in the number of radio and free-to-air television stations as well as the liberalization of the telecommunication sector.

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