Mon | Dec 16, 2019

Gov’t to increase fines for theft of telecoms equipment

Published:Thursday | November 14, 2019 | 12:28 AM

Telecoms provider Digicel says it welcomes plans by Minister of Science, Technology and Energy Faval Williams to push for stiffer penalties for the theft of network equipment.

In a release on Wednesday, Digicel noted that the theft of valuable equipment threatened the availability and reliability of telecommunications services to Jamaicans.

The company said it has lost almost US$2 million to theft of fuel, batteries, generators and copper wiring from cell sites and other equipment installations, over the last two years.

In a statement on Wednesday in Gordon House, Williams pledged to work with colleague ministers to strengthen legislation such as the Larceny Act, the Malicious Injuries to Property Act and the Scrap Metals Regulations, in order to tackle the problem in the sector.

Williams acknowledged the huge investments that the telecoms providers – Digicel and FLOW – have made in Jamaica for many years. However, the minister noted that she has received complaints by customers of frequent interference on their phone lines.

Meeting

Williams said that she had a meeting with representatives from both telecoms providers on Monday to discuss the challenges facing the sector.

Highlighting areas in need of attention in the telecoms sector, Williams said that investments in modernising networks have not been fast enough to keep pace with the growing bandwidth demands of consumers and applications. She said that the current infrastructure was inadequate for the country’s needs.

Further, the technology minister said that there was “a high dependency on a single fixed infrastructure that provides little redundancies owing to a lack of alternatives in the market, leaving networks susceptible to all kinds of hazards and risks”.

Williams said that her ministry was not “bashing” the telecoms providers, noting that for Jamaica to achieve affordable, quality high speed, true broadband connectivity and penetration levels on par with developed nations, intervention was needed.

She said that the Government was prepared to work with all stakeholders, using its policy and regulatory levers, to encourage accelerated investments in infrastructure and to secure 100 per cent connectivity across the island.