Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz yesterday announced that a Jamaican-owned company, Rock Mobile, will be the country's third telecoms provider.
Vaz said Cabinet took the decision at its latest meeting on Monday this week, “with lightning speed”, and the company is expected to achieve a full rollout of its service within two years.
“As I said last December, we expect a third telecoms provider, because we believe and support competition as the best way to achieve quality service at affordable prices,” he told the House of Representatives in his contribution to the annual Sectoral Debate.
He said that the request for proposal (RFP) was shaped to align with government policy objectives to: increase broadband access to unserved and underserved areas; promote competition, innovation and diversity in the telecoms industry; and ensure optimum return in the shortest possible time for the spectrum assigned.
He said that the mobile provider will be required to deploy its network, in keeping with the coverage, quality of service and implementation timing in the bid, including the provision of 95 per cent population coverage of the entire country at a specified minimum download data rate; 95 per cent population coverage of communities classified as unserved or underserved at a specified minimum download data rate; and a service launch date of no more than 12 months after grant of the licence.
He also stated that the criteria will be monitored closely.
“Simply put, use the licence or lose it,” he warned, as he informed the House that the publicly owned eGov Jamaica Limited has been providing much-needed behind-the-scenes support to the Government's efforts in terms of providing technological solutions.
“This support resulted in the successful development and deployment of several solutions, which included the Tax Administration Jamaica's Mobile Application, WeCare application platform used by the Ministry of Finance and Public Service and the Own Your Own Device Programme in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information,” Vaz noted.
He said that the novel coronavirus pandemic highlighted the great digital divide existing within the nation, and with the closure of schools and the shift towards remote learning, many students lacked Internet connectivity and information and communication technologies assets needed to continue their education, so an urgent response was required.