Minister of Telecommunications Connor attends 31st CANTO 2015 about Improving Lives through Broadband Innovation

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, and Transport & Telecommunications Hon. Claret Connor, recently attended the 31stAnnual Conference and Trade Exhibition (CANTO 2015) of the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication (CANTO) in Miami, Florida.

The conference and exhibition was held under the theme “Improving Lives through Broadband Innovation.”

The key note speaker, the Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, held a passionate speech on how broadband development should also benefit the less fortunate ones in society.

Minister Connor was part of a Ministerial panel with among other Curacao’s Minister of Telecommunications Suzie Romer, deliberating on topics concerning how broadband development affects our country and region, and what their respective governments, regulators and operators have been engaged in advancing ICT.

Giovanni King, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Bureau of Telecommunication and Post, was one of the speakers in a forum on the topic, Regulating Innovation.

A topic that was mentioned by many Telecom providers was the OTT (over the top) operators e.g. Whatsapp, and the fact they use the licensed operators network free of charge and they were seeking governments support to regulate these players.

The Sint Maarten delegation was invited to visit the NOC of Cable & Wireless Networks (CWN) and the delegation were able to view how the submarine cables through the Caribbean and South America is managed and maintained. This was an exciting experience.

Caribbean ICT stakeholders, including CANTO members, were involved in important discussions that will take place in 2015.  These discussions will play a very important role in obtaining information and statistics that will show clearly the situation in the Caribbean.

CANTO 2015 also showcased an exhibition with 80+ booths within the conference hall.

An update was also provided about the BIIPAC project (Broadband Infrastructure Inventory and Public Awareness in the Caribbean) which is now being implemented.  This project is assisting IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) countries in the Caribbean in broadband diagnosis and infrastructure maps, regulatory and institutional framework, ICT awareness and capacity building, as well as public policy and regional recommendations.

What is obvious based on the various presentations at the conference is that the Caribbean is lagging behind in providing affordable Internet access and that there is need for more Caribbean cooperation and harmonization of telecom policies, Minister Connor pointed out, and added, “All Caribbean countries are seeking for high percentage of penetration, however this is challenging relative to cost versus the various market sizes.”

CANTO has as its mission and vision to become the leading authority in shaping information, communication and technology (ICT) in the Caribbean Region and the Americas.

Its mission is to influence the innovation and development of ICT solutions for the benefit of members by developing, navigating and leveraging relationships with all stakeholders.  To advocate for policies, legislation and rules which advance the creation of an environment which facilitates the deployment of services and technologies around the region.

The conference and exhibition took place at the Hyatt Regency from July 26 to 31.

PHOTO CUTLINE: L to R, Giovanni King, COO BTP-SXM, Helma Etnel, Chief Financial Officer for TelEm Group, Minister Claret Connor, Glen Carty, UTS Chief Executive Officer St. Maarten, Jean James, Senior Advisor to Minister Connor.