Dig­i­cel en­dorses Re­gional Co-reg­u­lated Ap­proach to Open In­ter­net

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Speak­ing at the 11th Ca­pac­ity Caribbean Con­fer­ence in Puerto Rico, David Geary, Gen­eral Coun­sel for Dig­i­cel Caribbean, com­pared the de­bate on Net Neu­tral­ity to that of Brexit in the United King­dom.

In his pre­sen­ta­tion he out­lined that no one re­ally knows what ei­ther Brexit or Net Neu­tral­ity means as both mean dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple and, like the de­bate about ‘Soft Brexit’ and ‘Hard Brexit,’ some peo­ple are in favour of very ex­treme Net Neu­tral­ity - or ‘Hard Net Neu­tral­ity’ rules. “‘Hard Net Neu­tral­ity’ will be very dam­ag­ing to the Caribbean,” said David Geary, dur­ing the panel dis­cus­sion on the topic.

‘Soft Net Neu­tral­ity’ rules pro­tect con­sumers, en­sur­ing that there is no block­ing of in­ter­net con­tent. Geary felt that ‘Hard Net Neu­tral­ity’ rules went too far and were an at­tempt by In­ter­net giants like Google to im­pose rules on the in­ter­net that suit them but put lo­cal com­pa­nies at a dis­ad­van­tage. “In­stead of copy­ing other re­gions, the Caribbean needs to de­cide what is best for Caribbean con­sumers to pro­mote jobs and in­vest­ment in the re­gion,” Geary said.

He wel­comed the case for co-reg­u­la­tion re­cently pre­sented by the East­ern Caribbean Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Author­ity (ECTEL), and also praised the lead­er­ship of the Caribbean Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Union (CTU) on its ini­tia­tive to for­malise the part­ner­ship be­tween in­dus­try, gov­ern­ment and reg­u­la­tors by launch­ing the Caribbean ICT Col­lab­o­ra­tion Com­mit­tee. This Com­mit­tee will con­sider all of the pri­or­i­ties of the Caribbean and pro­pose the best ap­proach to Net Neu­tral­ity for the Caribbean. It is due to pro­duce these rec­om­men­da­tions in 2017.

“The Caribbean re­gion needs to be at the cen­tre of the new dig­i­tal econ­omy and we can­not af­ford to sit back while jobs and in­vest­ment go to other parts of the world,” he added.

Mod­er­ated by Teresa Wankin, Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Man­ager for CANTO, other mem­bers of the panel at the Ca­pac­ity Caribbean Con­fer­ence in­cluded Gio­vanni King, COO, Bureau Telecom­mu­ni­catie En Post Cu­ra­cao and Sher­mon Osepa, Man­ager, Re­gional Af­fairs for Latin Amer­ica & Caribbean In­ter­net So­ci­ety.

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