Global Cubes in Space to launch in T&T

Students and teachers of NothGate College, St Augustine, Trinidad
Students and teachers of NothGate College, St Augustine, Trinidad

Fifteen NorthGate College students are to receive awards from the Canadian High Commissioner for the school’s winning entry in the global Cubes in Space programme.

Cubes in Space is a no-cost global design contest in which teams of secondary school students from around the world compete by developing science experiments for launch into space. The T&T-based campus of NorthGate College won the 2014 global prize for experiment design. Continue reading

BrightPath Foundation brings TechLink to T&T

BrightPath founder and executive director Bevil Wooding. Photo courtesy: BrightPath Foundation
BrightPath founder and executive director Bevil Wooding. Photo courtesy: BrightPath Foundation

Secondary school teachers and students will be immersed in a day of technology gadgets, spacemen and science experiments when the BrightPath TechLink program comes to T&T on September 27. “TechLink combines hands-on technology training with fun-filled creative activity, wrapped into a values-based learning experience that we believe can benefit participant for life,” BrightPath Foundation executive director Bevil Wooding told T&T Guardian. Continue reading

St Kitts and Nevis to host ICT Week

st kitts nevis flagWhen a high-level group of Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) members meet in St Kitts and Nevis from September 22 to 26 September, the challenge of regulating over-the-top (OTT) Internet-based services will no doubt be a main point of focus.

In one important forum, a discussion on OTT services will bring ministers from different Caribbean nations up-to-date on the issues surrounding this type of service. The need for stronger, more coordinated regional Internet governance practices was first highlighted in July after mobile phone users in Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago were affected by a move by two major Caribbean mobile providers to block access to OTT telephony services—including several popular Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications.

The week will also include a two-day workshop on cyber security, which will focus on how Caribbean countries can create Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRT) to respond to the threat of digital breaches. The workshop is being facilitated by the Organisation of American States, with the financial support of the Government of Canada.

Another workshop will target senior public officers with responsibility for national information and communications technology (ICT) policy. Participants will learn how to find and deal with gaps in their policy frameworks or in some cases how to go about developing such policies. The training will be led by two experts from Ernst and Young Caribbean, based in T&T, Dr. Arnold Niranjan and Devindra Ramnarine.

Hosted by the government of St Kitts and Nevis and the CTU, the ICT Week will include the 17th General Conference of Ministers with responsibility for ICT in the CTU Member States. It also includes the 29th meeting of the CTU’s Executive Council, a body made up of permanent secretaries from ministries in the region that deal with technology. The Council has oversight responsibility for the work of the CTU Secretariat.

At this year’s meeting, Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the CTU, will present to the meeting her report on the CTU’s performance and its progress on ongoing projects. Lewis’ is the tough but necessary task of steering the CTU’s efforts in creating a harmonised approach to Caribbean telecommunications development, a major issue facing the region’s technology and telecommunications sectors. In her presentation, she will update members on how the work of the CTU has advanced since the previous council meeting, held in  Suriname on April 8 to 9.

The CTU’s efforts in Caribbean Internet governance have been longstanding. Established in 1989 by Caricom heads of government in Nassau, the CTU in 2005, under Secretary General Lewis, initiated the Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF), the world’s first regional multi-stakeholder Internet governance forum, established as a result of the World Summit of the Information Society (Geneva 2003 to Tunis 2005). Regional forums of this kind now take place in all other parts of the world.

The ICT Week comes on the heels of a symbolic return to Bahamas, where delegates participated in the 10th CIGF from August 6 to 8.

Curacao to host CaribNOG 8/LACNIC Caribbean 6

curaçao flagOne of the largest gatherings of the Caribbean Internet community will take place in Curacao in a few weeks.

In September, the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) and the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) will co-host a regional forum where important issues related to the future of the Internet at a regional and global level will be discussed.

CaribNOG 8/LACNIC Caribbean 6 will provide a forum for technology industry specialists to meet, network and get specialised training. The highly-anticipated event is widely regarded as a solutions-oriented forum for regional technology professionals to share relevant knowledge, deepen practical understanding and develop new skills.

The week of meetings draws on the strength of two organisations that are committed to advancing Internet development in the region. CaribNOG has earned a reputation as a place to exchange information related to the management of Internet and telecommunications networks in the region. LACNIC, an international non-government organisation, is one of the five Regional Internet Registries that exist worldwide.

Cyber security, Internet exchange points, data centres, cloud computing and critical Internet infrastructure are among the main topics to be presented by a slate of experts that includes Carlos Martínez (LACNIC), Bevil Wooding (PCH), Mark Kosters (ARIN), Arturo Servin (Google Inc.), Claire Craig (UWI), Steve Spence (Arkitechs), Alejandro Acosta (LACNIC), Stephen Lee (Arkitechs).

The regional event takes place with the support of the wider global Internet community. Among its main sponsors are the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (Ams-IX), the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, Columbus Communications, Google, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Society, the Brazilian Network Information Center (NIC.br) and Microsoft.

CaribNOG 8/LACNIC Caribbean 6 will be held from September 29 to October 3 at Hilton Curaçao Resort Hotel, Willemstad.

“Curacao is a very appropriate location for this event,” said Stephen Lee, one of the main organisers.

The island is one of the few in the Caribbean that has developed its Internet infrastructure to the extent that it is able offer data centre services to a global market, including the southern and eastern Caribbean.

“Technology-based services are an important part of the economy. They have modern high-speed connectivity, and there are some major fibre connections into the island that enable them to support the delivery of those services.”

More information is available on the official event website.

Industry experts agree: Regulators must protect Caribbean mobile subscribers

Mobile telecommunications operators in the region will continue to take advantage of consumers until stronger regulatory frameworks are built to protect Caribbean citizens. Regulators across the region must take decisive action to protect consumer choice, and the neutrality of the Internet across the Caribbean.

This is the consensus emerging among several Latin America and Caribbean Internet and telecommunications industry experts who spoke to the T&T Guardian after a move by regional mobile operators Digicel and LIME to block Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services over their networks in Haiti, Jamaica and T&T.

Continue reading

Legacy of 1804: Caribbean cellcos block VoIP in Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad

Blogosphere and ICT Pulse on Alice Backer's Legacy of 1804
Blogosphere and ICT Pulse on Alice Backer’s Legacy of 1804

Can you hear me now?

Tonight at 9 Eastern, I join Michele Marius (ICT Pulse), Gary Dauphin (USC Annenberg) and Pascal Antoine (HaitiXchange), to discuss Caribbean cellcos’ move to block VoIP in Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

Tune in to Legacy of 1804, hosted by Alice Backer.

The Caribbean urgently needs better communications infrastructure. Could public-private partnerships be the answer?

Caribbean countries are deepening their investment in critical communications infrastructure, in order to secure future economic growth and create pathways to social innovation.

 

Regional leaders reiterated the importance of information and communications technology (ICT) to regional growth at the Caricom Heads of Government conference held at Dickenson Bay, Antigua and Barbuda from July 1st to 4th. They noted its importance as an enabler for other sectors and as a critical sector in its own right to spur innovation and entrepreneurship.

 

The governments of Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines are now partnering with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) to harmonise the development of national communications infrastructure across the Eastern Caribbean. As an agency of CARICOM, the CTU was approached by the World Bank in 2012 to support a holistic approach to regional public infrastructure development, through a program called CARCIP—the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program—funded through the World Bank’s International Development Association. CARCIP was allocated a total disbursement of US$25 million, including loans to the three countries and a grant to the CTU.

 

CTU hosts PPP talks

Under CARCIP, the countries will establish and upgrade submarine cable infrastructure, terrestrial broadband backbone fibre networks and cross-border links, as well as Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). More significantly, a pilot initiative launched under CARCIP could change how regional governments work with the private sector to keep their national broadband network infrastructure upgraded, secure and open to competitors. On July 8, the CARCIP project coordination unit of the CTU will host a workshop on public-private partnership, commonly called PPP. Government officials attending the workshop will seek to develop a better understanding of PPPs among stakeholders in the CARCIP countries, and a plan for the development of a legal, regulatory and institutional framework that will support the implementation of PPP projects.

 

The workshop will be facilitated by Denzel Hankinson, a public-private partnership (PPP) and telecommunications specialist, and owner of DH Infrastructure, with almost two decades of experience in public infrastructure development projects and PPP training for projects in Mongolia, Nepal, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ghana and the United States.

 

The use of PPPs in the region has, in general, been limited and mostly ad-hoc, but renewed interest has emerged due to increased fiscal pressures. An official communqué from the CARICOM heads of government conference in Antigua describes the promotion of more private sector investment and public-private partnerships as “a critical driver of economic growth in a mutually beneficial partnership towards the promotion of the community’s growth agenda”. At the conference, a meeting of heads of government and regional business leaders touched on the need to create “capital-friendly economies through an improved harmonised regulatory framework and public private partnerships”.

 

CARCIP is, in this context, a pilot initiative providing proof-of-concept for the wider regional PPP implementation efforts. The second report of the Caricom Commission on the Economy, which focussed on the reform of the region’s business operating environment, specifically identified the need to promote public private partnerships for the development of the economic infrastructure with technical advice from the World Bank and other international organisations. But there is little activity in the wider Caribbean, no doubt in part becuase the understanding of what PPPs are, when to use them, and how to structure transactions remains limited, although Jamaica and T&T have introduced PPP policies, established PPP units, and are developing detailed guidelines for procuring projects as PPPs.

 

As a precursor to the PPP Workshop, the CTU will host a meeting of CARCIP project coordinators and permanent secretaries of the respective ministries with responsibility for ICT, on July 7th. Representatives from the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) and the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN), who are partnering with the CTU on the regional project, will also attend.

Both CTU meetings will take place at the its new headquarters in St Clair, Port-of-Spain.

 

“We are happy to host the CARCIP meeting and public-private partnership workshop, and look forward to a productive session,” said Junior Mc Intyre, CARCIP CTU project coordinator.

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