The country has acquired major capacity in helping to track down illegal transmissions.
Yesterday, the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) commissioned specialized equipment, two of which can be deployed readily, that will help improve the management of frequencies used by telephone companies, cable television and radio station operators.
Over $100M was spent in the fixed, transportable and mobile spectrum monitoring units, disclosed NFMU’s head, Valmiki Singh.
The acquisition of the equipment would come at a time when the country is about to open the market to new companies in the telecoms field.
With spectrum demand expected to surge, the limited availability of frequencies is something that the administration would be paying close attention to. Some countries have demanded bids for certain frequencies, including ones used by mobile phones.
The equipment has the capability of not only determining signal strength of transmissions, as was demonstrated yesterday, but can also zero in on locations from where the signal is coming.
NFMU has in the past been challenged with dealing with complaints of operators using the airwaves illegally
The Unit has been trained to also programme the equipment to conduct monitoring at particular times. This would be good news for operators who have been complaining of competitors illegally increasing signal strength and affecting their signals.
The NFMU head noted that telecommunications and ICT sectors are among the fastest growing in the world, with call centres and wireless possibilities putting a stain on the limited spectrum.
Spectrum, he stressed, has applications for social, entertainment, health, education, commerce, disaster mitigation and response purposes, with wireless solutions continuing to provide solutions for people around the world.
Singh made it clear that the NFMU’s mandate to minimize interference and reduce improper use of spectrum is being taken seriously. But there are no guarantees that the operators will utilize it (spectrum) as intended, for a number of reasons. These include complexity of equipment, equipment malfunction or deliberate misuse. These, of course, impact on the country’s competitiveness. However, monitoring illegal transmissions is not by any means cheap, Singh pointed out. Guyana is also challenged by its vast terrain.
With regards to the equipment, Singh said that it was handled by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) with four bids received.
The winner was California-based TCI International Inc, a leading company that deals with radio frequency solutions for monitoring, spectrum management and advanced antenna-based applications. TCI has done work in Jamaica, Trinidad and Suriname.
The three sets of equipment included one fixed; one transportable and one mobile.
In total they cost US$563,873 (over $100M)
According to the NFMU head, already the fixed equipment has been installed on top of Takuba Lodge, which houses the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on South Road.
That equipment, located across from the NFMU office on Charlotte Street, will cover the Georgetown area.
The transportable equipment, located in a cabinet atop a trailer, can be deployed to any area that is accessible by a pickup. An agreement has been reached with the Ministry of Public Security for it to be housed in the compounds of police stations for security reasons, Singh disclosed.
The mobile equipment has been specially fitted into a pickup and can be rapidly deployed.
According to Singh, NFMU technicians and those from the supplier were involved in the setting up of the basic equipment. Six of NFMU’s staffers have been trained in the use, with TCI offering backup customer service.
Meanwhile, according to Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes, spectrum is important for all spheres in Guyana.
The agency is not only in charge of frequencies, but overlooks the allocations of frequencies to taxis, boats and a range of different services.
It is important, she stressed, for the country to accurately determine how spectrum is being used and who uses it.
She said that the equipment will help bring transparency, reducing illegal use of the airwaves.
Also present at the commissioning were Chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission, Dela Britton and Chairman of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority, Leslie Sobers, among others.
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