Telecommunications Minister, Kelver Darroux, has expressed confidence in the work that has been done by the ECTEL Council of Ministers in moving forward the telecommunications sector in ECTEL member states.

Darroux, who is the current chairman of ECTEL recently chaired the 38th meeting of the ECTEL Council of Ministers meeting which took place in St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

According to him, a number of decisions were taken to advance the work being done in the telecoms sector including the approval of a budget for  2018/19, in excess of 11 million dollars, which will be provided to ECTEL and the National Telecommunication Regulatory Commissions (NTRC’s) in the respective jurisdictions of ECTEL. These are  Dominica, St. Kitts, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Lucia and Grenada.

Darroux explained that the ECTEL Treaty which was signed by Roosevelt Douglas, the then Prime Minister of Dominica in 2000, makes provision for changes to be made to the Treaty.

“The Council of Ministers at the 38th meeting took a decision to move ahead to make amendments to that Treaty and all the Prime Ministers of the ECTEL member states have signed on so as to have the necessary amendments made and to go before parliament in the first quarter of 2019,” he said.

He continued, “So once it gets the necessary parliamentary approval as is required by law, then it will take its legislative effect in the member states. One of the changes that will be taking place in that amendment is to ensure that the service providers will continue to allow for open entry market and competition in the various jurisdictions as well as to change the language in the treaty.”

“We are now moving ahead to deal with the number portability which deals with consumers having to keep same numbers even if they change service provider from FLOW to DIGCEL or vice versa,” he stated.

He said there will be a “soft launch” on Monday December 17, 2018, followed by the official launch with the new measure taking effect on Monday, 14th January, 2019. He said ECTEL and the NTRC’s will now fine tune the proposed legislation to first deal with mobile and then fixed line.

“The roaming rates will also be dealt with by the ECTEL Council of Ministers at its meeting in Dominica on March 14th, 2019,” Darroux remarked.

“The forecast for the telecommunications sector is bright, particularly in Dominica, where we will see some major infrastructural upgrade and rebuilding of the network,” the ECTEL Chairman declared. “The government of Dominica has entered into a 15 year contract for providing telecommunications services with DIGICEL which will see a complete overhaul and rebuilding of the current network and infrastructure.  That contract is expected to be signed later this month or early next year, 2019.”