You all enjoy the luxury of choosing among mobile and telephone service providers and cable companies. Many of you will remember when there was only one telephone/mobile company and you had to pay unreasonable rates for calls and other services. So how did we end up with the present multitude of telecommunication companies? What changed? Well if you didn’t already know, the Jamaican government in 1999 embarked on what is called a “liberalisation of telecommunications”. In the Jamaican context this included getting rid of the monopoly thus allowing other companies to come in, get licenses and gain market share. This liberalisation of telecommunications has had a positive impact on the Jamaican economy, culture and communication.
The liberalisation of the telecommunications has economically impacted the you, the people of Jamaica in many ways. Specifically, due to increased competition the telecommunications companies offer lower, more reasonable rates to you. Digicel entering the telecommunications market in 2001 prompted LIME to start offering more reasonable rates to you, its customers. Last year, LIME slashed its call rates by 60% , making it $2.99 per minute but in a little less than a week this move was counteracted by Digicel. Digicel realized that the needs of each customer was different and so offered 6 different call/text plans simultaneously giving their customers the power to choose the plan best suited for them. This benefited each of you as the cheaper call rates means that one would get value for his/her money and spend less money buying credit.
This move by the government has also attracted investment and has increased economic growth. It has cause increased investment in mobile networks as mobile companies in an effort to have an edge over their competitors invested greatly in the upgrading of their network infrastructure. The liberalisation has also influenced the installation of the submarine FabraLink cable by Columbus Communications. The telecommunications sector has also contributed to economic growth as the GDP has shown a steady increase moving from J$14275.7 M in 1999 to J$28511.3 M in 2004. Economically, the liberalisation of telecommunications has allowed you to receive more value for your money by giving you cheaper calling rates and providing employment by attracting investment and increasing the GDP.
Jamaican culture has also been affected by this liberalisation of telecommunications. Jamaica’s internet penetration is currently at 55% which means more than 1.5 million people in Jamaica have internet access. The set up of broadband by the mobile networks has enabled customers to connect to internet via wireless technology and the establishment of the Flow Cable company has contributed to the increase of internet penetration over the years. Also due to the reasonable rates offered by these companies internet access has become fairly inexpensive and more people are able to afford it.
These facts suggest that Jamaica has adopted a more internet reliant culture.Many students around Jamaica use the internet as their primary source of data when conducting research. In addition to that more and more people are using social media. Through allowing more and more individuals to access the internet at cheaper, more affordable rates this has allowed Jamaica to adopt a more internet dependent culture.
Telecommunications liberalisation has also affected the way we communicate. As time goes by the internet is being used more and more as a communication medium. We use it to send emails, to access social media and to even send and receive text messages. There was once a time when we had to send out physical letters and it would take days to be delivered to the recipient; now, we simple send out an email and it gets to the person instantaneously. We live in fast paced world so getting fast, almost immediate responses when we send out correspondence is important. Through greater access to other forms of telecommunications, we are able to communicate in a more efficient manner. Liberalisation of telecommunication has overall made communication a fast and easier task.
Investment in telecommunication, increased GDP, more internet reliant lives and fast and easy communication are all positive results of the liberalisation of telecommunications in Jamaica. Increased investments mean more jobs, increased GDP means economic growth and more internet reliant lives and fast and easy communication means more productivity. Through liberalisation of telecommunications benefits the each of us individually and more so us as a people.