June 9, 2015
NTRC uplifting telecommunications environment in SVG – Duncan

The National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC), which came into being with the passing of the Telecommunications Act 2001, has since then, played an extremely important role in uplifting the telecommunications environment {{more}}in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“To give you an idea of how important the NTRC is,” says Universal Service Fund (USF) administrator Kyron Duncan, “the USF’s and NTRC’s first project was responsible for initially providing free Internet access to 29 locations throughout the island and with the upgrade of this project, we have now managed to put free Wi-Fi access at all schools, learning resource centres, health facilities and police stations in St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Duncan, speaking from his office last week, said that the NTRC has managed to use the USF to uplift the lives of Vincentians, while they have also managed to establish and coordinate an effective telecommunications regulatory regime, which has enhanced the operation of telecommunications in the interest of the sustainable development of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The NTRC is funded by the USF, which collects money from the local telecommunications providers. The providers pay a portion of their yearly profits to the NTRC.

Apart from the free Wi-Fi, the NTRC also hosts an annual competition that sees local students being rewarded for their ideas and applications.

Dubbed the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission’s (NTRC) Ideas and Innovation Competition or I2 competition, Duncan says that this competition was introduced in 2013 and is intended to give students the chance to change the world using their imagination and creativity and to showcase the young people’s inclination towards innovation.

“Innovation powers entrepreneurship. We want to provide the foundation for innovation by giving students a forum for coming up with great inspiring ideas that could revolutionize the Vincentian society,” said Duncan.

The competition encourages students from various secondary, technical and tertiary level institutions (including the medical colleges) from across the island to put forward ideas for new systems or that could improve existing systems in the current departments within the Public Service of St Vincent and the Grenadines and other state agencies that provide services to the public. Such improvements can lead to cost savings or result in the faster delivery of that service.

“Groups have, over the last two years, been presenting mobile applications and innovative ideas and are being rewarded financially,” explained Duncan, who added that the competition has brought out the creative nature of our local students.

This year, the competition will be held from September 10 to January 14, 2016. All secondary schools, technical institutes and the various divisions of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College and the medical colleges are allowed to enter the competition and will be judged in separate categories.

Prizes range between $500 and $3,500.

According to Duncan, the NTRC also embraces the communities. He said that his organization usually holds community discussions at the various learning resource centres, where persons can voice their displeasure with the various telecommunications service providers, while open day sessions are sometimes held, during which persons can learn to use a computer.

“The NTRC has been involved in numerous projects,” says Duncan.

Among them, the installation of payphones, wireless Internet services and 24-hour video surveillance at tourist sites, the installation of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), the development of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure at the A’ Level College, with the installation of Apple iPads and Apple MacBook Pro laptops, while they also provide EC$10 per month Internet access to persons that fall in the low income bracket.

“These are just a few of the projects we are involved in,” Duncan noted.