URCA to lead consultation on 5G in 2022

Calling it a crucial issue, the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) stated it intends to lead consultation on the introduction of 5G to The Bahamas in 2022.

5G is the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks and the successor to the 4G networks which provide the connectivity of most current cellular phones.

In its draft annual plan 2022, URCA stated that The Bahamas must not be left behind in the global push toward digital transformation and innovation.

“Fifth generation (5G) technology is the next phase of technological revolution, motivated by artificial intelligence, big data, smart technology and the creation of smart cities. In small island developing states (SIDS), like The Bahamas, this paradigm shift requires a national commitment. In 2022, URCA will lead engagements with stakeholders on this crucial issue,” the regulator stated in the plan, released yesterday.

“The national public consultation will be guided by, inter alia, the specific demand for 5G services in The Bahamas and the different roles/types of 5G services in relation to the current 4G/LTE mobile services. Through this public engagement process, URCA will seek to determine the potential use cases of advanced mobile services, inclusive of 5G for 

government, businesses and end users; the geographic locations within The Bahamas where these advanced mobile services are needed; and the investment in the infrastructure required to facilitate 5G services. URCA will engage the government and key telecommunications stakeholders on the national broadband infrastructure, inclusive of investment options, as a supplement to the public consultation.”

Along with consultation on 5G, URCA stated it will continue its assessment regarding the feasibility of a third mobile operator.

“As set out in the electronic communications sector policy, the government of The Bahamas will consider whether further liberalization of the mobile telephone market should be undertaken in the form of a third mobile operator,” URCA stated.

“The policy requires that URCA provide advice and recommendations to the government on this matter, including a feasibility and market analysis to support any recommendations made. As this assessment is reliant on the information that will come out of the ongoing market review of mobile phone services, the feasibility assessment will begin once the mobile market review is completed.”

Another key focus for URCA in 2022 involves the establishment of public service broadcasting.

“Countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada have enjoyed the benefits of public service broadcasting (PSB) for many years through the BBC and CBC, respectively,” the draft annual plan stated.

“On July 7, 2011, URCA published its statements of results in relation to PSB in The Bahamas and published a report with recommendations to the minister responsible for broadcasting about the role of PSB, the remit and corporate governance rules of the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas, the preferred method of funding any PSB obligations that are recommended and necessary amendments to the Broadcasting Act.

“URCA proposes to engage with the government and consult with other key stakeholders in relation to the implementation of a PSB framework for The Bahamas. This work will be furthered in 2022 as a Tier I project, with completion anticipated in T3 2022.”

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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