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For Immediate Release - Paulwell undeterred by 700 MHz auction results

Phillip Paulwell

October 11, 2013: Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, the Hon. Phillip Paulwell has expressed his disappointment at the results of the 700 MHz Auction, which was conducted by the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA) and ended today.

"First, I would like to thank the SMA, ICT Division of the MSTEM, the Office of Utilities Regulation and the Fair Trading Commission for their guidance. The process overall was well executed and was commended by the Office of the Contractor General for the level of transparency involved," Minister Paulwell said.

Despite a robust showing of interest from a number of entities, including the 24 persons from 10 countries, including India, China, Ghana, Japan, Canada, Taiwan, the Russian Federation and the United States who attended a public forum for interested parties via the internet, the auction ended with no bids submitted before the 2:00pm deadline.

"We view this as a minor setback. The Government’s resolve is un-daunted as it relates to the preservation of competition in the telecommunications market, and for creating a knowledge-based society capable of leveraging the cumulative benefits of telecommunications and ICT to achieve global competitiveness," said Paulwell, who is currently in transit to South Korea to attend the 1st IDB/Government of the Republic of Korea sponsored Ministerial Forum for Broadband Development in Latin American and the Caribbean.

Minister Paulwell, who in 1999 led the then Government's charge to introduce competition in the telecoms sector, noted that those developments have today resulted in "the most dramatic, fundamental and profound development that has occurred in our country’s recent history," exemplified by Jamaica's 120% penetration rate in the mobile phone (voice) market.

"Now, with broadband penetration in Jamaica estimated at approximately 8%, and with increasing demand for mobile broadband globally, we have set our sights on the next frontier...100% broadband penetration," the Minister said.

Since assuming office in January 2012, the Government has already taken several strides to achieving ubiquitous broadband penetration, Minister Paulwell pointed out. These include amending the legislative and regulatory framework to encourage and sustain a healthy competn Aggregate Spectrum Cap Policy limiting the overall spectrum holdings of mobile operators at the level of 80 MHz, he said, were critical steps toward enhancing competition thereby strengthening the telecoms landscape.

"It is our view that at the level of 80 MHz per operator, there is sufficient capacity for existing operators to rollout out voice and data services to customers while leaving sufficient spectrum to accommodate a new entrant to the market," Minister Paulwell said.

Going forward, in light of today's developments, the Minister said the government would review all available spectrum with a view to allocating additional spectrum to facilitate the development of broadband networks.

"Increased broadband penetration is the vehicle for significant development of the economy, education, culture and creative sectors and of course government efficiency. As we go forward we will continue to employ a collaborative approach, involving all stakeholders, so that the best decisions can be taken in Jamaica’s interest," Minister Paulwell said.

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