To­wards mod­ern util­i­ties

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT -

The fol­low­ing are ex­cerpts from a speech de­liv­ered by Min­is­ter of Sci­ence, En­ergy and Tech­nol­ogy Dr An­drew Wheat­ley, re­cently, in Mon­tego Bay, St James, at the 14th An­nual Con­fer­ence of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Caribbean Util­ity Reg­u­la­tors (OOCUR): S CARIBBEAN na­tions in­creas­ingly recog­nise the im­por­tance, and proac­tively pur­sue a sus­tain­able en­ergy fu­ture for our coun­tries, there is a greater push to­wards re­new­ables and other al­ter­na­tive sources of en­ergy.

For our part, since I as­sumed of­fice, ap­prox­i­mately 60MW of re­new­able en­ergy ca­pac­ity has been added to the grid, with an ad­di­tional 20MW of so­lar set to come on stream in short or­der.

Prior to re­cent his­tory, con­cepts such as net billing, net me­ter­ing, and power wheel­ing were re­mote ideas. How­ever, with the pol­icy frame­work in place and in­vestors lin­ing up, our reg­u­la­tors have had to be deal­ing with these new ar­eas.

Here in Ja­maica, there is a net-billing ar­range­ment, which has been met with tremen­dous op­ti­mism and buy-in from in­di­vid­u­als and small en­ter­prises.

ASince as­sum­ing of­fice and restart­ing the pro­gramme in April of this year, we have is­sued 154 li­censes to var­i­ous in­di­vid­u­als de­sirous of be­ing a part of the elec­tric­ity-gen­er­a­tion process.

ITELECOMMUNICATIONS

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The area of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions is con­stantly evolv­ing, re­quir­ing reg­u­la­tors to pay keen at­ten­tion.

The Of­fice of Util­i­ties Reg­u­la­tion (OUR), as the reg­u­la­tor for this sec­tor, has been in­te­gral to the evo­lu­tion and de­vel­op­ment of the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor in Ja­maica. A note­wor­thy de­vel­op­ment is the im­ple­men­ta­tion of num­ber porta­bil­ity in 2015, and since then, over 60,000 Ja­maicans have ported their num­bers.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Ja­maica has been en­joy­ing a tele­den­sity rate of over 100 per cent over the past few years, and ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial statis­tics from the OUR, we had over three mil­lion mo­bile sub­scribers at the end of 2015.

NET NEU­TRAL­ITY

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On the tech­nol­ogy side, the Ja­maican Govern­ment strongly sup­ports, and is ac­tively pur­su­ing, Dr An­drew Wheat­ley – min­is­ter of sci­ence, en­ergy, and tech­nol­ogy.

the adop­tion of the prin­ci­ples of net neu­tral­ity, and our reg­u­la­tors must be in­te­grally in­volved in this process. I know that this is a hot topic that has gar­nered much dis­cus­sion in tech­nol­ogy cir­cles, but our stance is clear, and it is my hope that through col­lab­o­ra­tive and mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion, Ja­maica, and, in­deed, all of the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries in the re­gion will re­alise the full ben­e­fits to be de­rived from em­brac­ing this im­por­tant prin­ci­ple. It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of ev­ery coun­try in the re­gion to de­ter­mine how

to ap­ply the at­ten­dant rules of net neu­tral­ity to max­imise sec­tor growth, in­no­va­tion, and ul­ti­mately, eco­nomic ben­e­fit.

IN­TER­NET OF THINGS AND DIG­I­TAL CON­VER­GENCE

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As the world evolves and tech­nol­ogy ad­vances, there is a grow­ing trend to­wards dig­i­tal con­ver­gence and the In­ter­net of things. These two con­cepts will be­come very in­flu­en­tial in the modus operandi of gov­ern­ments, busi­nesses, reg­u­la­tors, and vir­tu­ally all facets of the so­ci­ety.

Con­ver­gence not only af­fects

tech­nol­ogy, but also the plat­forms over which the con­verged tech­nol­ogy and their re­lated ser­vices are de­liv­ered. Thus, the merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions that we see in the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and re­lated mar­kets of North Amer­ica and Europe are also tak­ing place in Ja­maica.

Notwith­stand­ing these ad­vances, we are mind­ful of the im­pli­ca­tions for cy­ber­se­cu­rity, which must be a fac­tor in all de­ci­sion-mak­ing pro­cesses. Reg­u­la­tors, like pol­i­cy­mak­ers and other stake­hold­ers, must also be cog­nisant of cur­rent threats.

In this re­gard, the nec­es­sary strate­gic steps, es­pe­cially from the reg­u­la­tory and gov­ern­men­tal per­spec­tives, must be taken into ac­count in prepa­ra­tion for the fu­ture.

It is, there­fore, ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal that util­i­ties man­age the un­cer­tain­ties while cre­at­ing the right strate­gies. The suc­cess­ful util­ity of the fu­ture will need to con­sider pol­icy, reg­u­la­tory, eco­nomic, and tech­no­log­i­cal un­cer­tainty, and ap­pro­pri­ately adapt its busi­ness model to the ben­e­fit of its stake­hold­ers.

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