Towards a smart broadband caribbean community

Caption - TSTT's Vydia Bhagan speak with students at CANTO's 'Girls in ICT' program

The year 2012 marked twenty eight years of CANTO services to its members, the people of the Caribbean region and the global information and communication sector. For CANTO and the ICT industry the recent years have been nothing short of transformational. With changes in technology, markets and customer needs, the journey has been fast paced and challenging, yet always exciting. To remain relevant to its members and other stakeholders, CANTO has responded by continuing to reinvent itself. Our latest rebranding programme including our new logo and name change forms part of the strategy to reposition CANTO as a modern, forward-thinking, global, proactive and technology driven trade association, striving to meet the changing needs of our members and other stakeholders. 

CANTO has a global membership base with 110 members from 32 countries and spanning four continents and our goal is to advance the development of the Caribbean through information and communication technology.

 In the process of pursuing this goal CANTO :

1.      works collaboratively with regional governments in the pursuit of a shared vision for broadband development.

2.      spearheaded the introduction of the annual “i-Create e-Content Competition” which seeks to promote the development of local and regional content recognising that one of the pull factors for broadband adoption in the public is the availability of relevant content.

3.      introduced of the “Girls in ICT Day”  which seeks to create a global environment  which empowers  and encourages girls and young women to seek a career in the growing field of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

4.      Initiated Connect the Caribbean, one of CANTO’s most ambitious projects to date, working with regional governments and other public and private sector stakeholders to increase connectivity and ICT usage in the Caribbean. “Towards a SMART Broadband Caribbean Community” is the CANTO theme chosen this year to emphasize the milestones reached in Connect the Caribbean.

TSTT CEO (Ag.) George Hill, speaking at the start of the 29th CANTO AGM reminded those in attendance that broadband access was an inescapable feature of forward-looking societies. “It aids the democratization of information by empowering more people to actively participate in what has become an ever-increasing electronic landscape. The eco system for such participation includes the pervasiveness of access, the cost of access, the cost of access equipment, the access infrastructure and content availability. This is all guided by an overarching philosophy that in our time, access is essential to everyday living and the way we interact with each other, whether for work or leisure.”

The 29th AGM, hosted in collaboration with TSTT, was followed by the CANTO/IDB Broadband Infrastructure Inventory and Public Awareness in the Caribbean Project Launch on 6-7 February, 2013. The objective of this project is to support the design of national broadband strategies in the Caribbean region and to identify the regional aspects that need to be incorporated into these strategies to support the Caribbean Region as it evolves towards universality in broadband access and service, regardless of the location or the social strata.  The participating countries are Barbados, Belize, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago.  

The project will also seek to develop practical guidelines for the ubiquitous implementation of broadband access technologies in an efficient manner that is consistent with globally adopted standards and international best practices. The products and tools to be elaborated in the framework of this project will inform policy makers and regulators in the Caribbean in the design of national broadband strategies.

These objectives will be achieved through the implementation of the following four components and a budget of US$ 1,080,000 including a Regional non reimbursable Technical Cooperation with the IDB: 

: Broadband diagnosis and infrastructure maps 

: Review of regulatory and institutional frameworks and current sector trends 

: ICT awareness and capacity building for the Caribbean

: Public policy recommendations for the design of National broadband strategies

We envisage ICTs being used in all sectors of the society, to deliver government services more efficiently and effectively, to increase business competitiveness and to increase economic productivity. The end goal is economic growth and improved quality of life for all our citizens through the collective efforts of stakeholders in telecoms organizations, their affiliates and Governments.