Wheatley reaffirms Government's support for net neutrality

Thursday, December 14, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Andrew Wheatley has reaffirmed the Government's full support for the principles of net neutrality.

Wheatley, in a statement from his ministry, said “The position of the Government of Jamaica is clear as it relates to net neutrality, we are in full support of the principles of Net Neutrality and as a developing economy we will apply the rules of Net Neutrality in a way that ensures that we meet our economic growth priorities”.

The minister's statement comes in lieu of a current "net neutrality” battle in America in which the Federal Communications Commission in the US is to vote today on repealing neutrality protections implemented under former President Barack Obama.

The US agency was expected to narrowly pass the measure to scrap the 2015 neutrality rules, which require internet service providers to treat all online traffic equally without blocking or hampering of rivals.

“Media or Telecommunications companies that do business in Jamaica must be prepared to embrace an environment that supports net neutrality,” said Wheatley.

According to the information minister: “There seems to be some confusion surrounding the application of net neutrality rules, where we often compare the approaches of the US and the EU to what prevails in the Caribbean. It is important for each Caribbean nation and the region as a whole to determine how these rules work best for their economic goals and the goals of the region respectively.

“As we take Jamaica towards a truly digital society and one in which we become greater creators and innovators of technology as opposed mere consumers, it is imperative that we adopt policies that ensure that all of our local businesses and entrepreneurs grow and contribute to the development of our local and regional economies.”

While Wheatley acknowledged the stated concerns of media and telecommunications operations and their belief that net neutrality may cause a reduction in investments in infrastructure and innovation in the region, he called on operators to “reassess your business models and look at new ways of leveraging the investments they have made in their networks.”

Wheatley added that: “in the dynamic environment that now prevails media and telecommunications operators must also become more innovative and think outside of the box”.

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