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The Trinidad & Tobago Business Guide (TTBG, 2009-10)

Internet subscribers

Internet subscribers increased by 11.5 percent in 2007 over 2006, to a total of 81,721. These numbers count paid accounts, however, not actual users. With more than 70,000 believed to be using the popular Facebook social networking service alone, actual use is clearly much higher than Internet penetration figures measure. But these are still slow adoption rates for a market that has seen a decrease in the overall direct cost of Internet use by as much as 75 per cent and a much more aggressive competitive stance by the chief rivals for broadband Internet share: TSTT’s marketleading Blink broadband service and its aggressively priced and marketed competitor, Columbus Communications’ Flow U-Click broadband service. Broadband competition In 2009, this competition is likely to heat up even more as TSTT enters the “triple-play” market (telephone, broadband and television) with an IPTV-based entertainment channel. Columbus Communications has tentatively staked its own claim with its fixed-line, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service for broadband customers. Both TSTT and Columbus are expected to raise the game for Internet service in 2009. By the end of 2008, early hints of the kind of competitive one-upmanship likely to characterise the broadband market in 2009 had begun to surface. TSTT had reintroduced its wireless broadband service on a new CDMA wavelength as “Blink-to-go”, after suspending sales of the product for more than a year due to bandwidth oversaturation issues with its earlier EVDO-based product. Columbus upgraded midrange customers of its U-Click broadband product from 6 megabit download speeds to 10 megabits, and promised 50 megabit speeds by 2010. But the balance between access and cost is still to tilt more decisively in favour of customers, as the large, lingering customer base of dial-up users suggests. Country code management Then there are matters that speak to national pride, specifically the rationalisation of the country code for Trinidad and Tobago, which has been administered by the Trinidad and Tobago Network Information Centre, a University of the West Indies-sponsored organisation that has kept tight rein on the “.tt” top-level domain code. Most of these domains have been offered as second (name. tt) or third tier (name.co.tt), and costs remain severely out of line with equivalent but generic domains such as .net and .com. Second-level domains cost UD$500 per year and third level domains US$50 per year. The potential of country code domains has been well illustrated by the success of the German country code .de and the fortuitously named country code for the tiny Polynesian island of Tuvalu, which despite its size of 26 square kilometers was awarded the highly prized domain .tv and earned US$2 million in royalties from its use in 2006. In December 2008, the Trinidad and Tobago government opened discussions with ICT stakeholders on the administration of the top-level domain country code. The Ministry of Public Administration’s invitation letter noted that “the time has come to have a national consensus multistakeholder policy for the local management of this Internet resource, and an inclusive and transparent consultative process to get there.” Development challenges The challenges facing the MPA are not to be underestimated. The opening of competition in the telecommunications sector has led to a saturated mobile communications market, with a subscription base that’s almost 140 per cent of the population; but Internet adoption, and by extension ICT potential and development, has lagged behind, with total subscribers at less than 10 per cent. Broadband users account for just a little less than 2 per cent. ICT development demands new laws to enable technology and to protect the rights of users, content creators and suppliers. WEF rankings place Trinidad and Tobago at 101 for performance in enacting laws related to ICT. Legislative packages supporting some digital age initiatives are still being drafted, and legislation addressing data protection and privacy, essential to the development of e-business initiatives, is on the parliamentary agenda for 2009. More tangible support for technology development is planned for the rural district of Tamana, where eTecK, the government agency responsible for real estate management and light industrial development, is designing a new technology complex. Its Intech Park is designed to merge with the abundant greenery of the existing landscape, and 33 per cent of the site will be preserved. The 416.5 hectare park will support ICT development with high-speed IT infrastructure and pooled state-of-theart technology resources. Tenants will be able to take advantage of a Tier III data centre and a metro-ethernet network with Factcheck Market share of subscribers by service December 2007 Fixed 15.0% Mobile 73.6% Internet 4.0% Cable TV 7.4% Internet subscribers Broadband 35,491 (43%) Narrowband 46,230 (57%) Level of access to individual telecommunications services per 100 inhabitants Fixed telephone subscribers a planned capacity of 1-10 gigabits. eTecK plans to support its technology partners with marketing and promotion strategies that leverage the potential of this planned pool of talent and IT resources. Private sector The ICT sector may be driven and supported by government initiatives and planning, but private sector development is also growing. According to an Economic Impact Study by IDC (the International Data Corporation), commissioned by Microsoft West Indies, IT in Trinidad and Tobago employs 3,400 people and generates spending to the tune of TT$542 million. Spending patterns are commensurate with an emerging economy, according to the IDC analysis, with 74 per cent on hardware and 10 per cent on software. That spending represents 0.5 per cent of GDP, compared with a worldwide average of 2.5 per cent. IDC projects yearon-year growth to hold steady at 7.7 per cent through 2011 and to generate 940 new jobs. It found that software-related employment in 2007 was just 30.6 per cent of total IT employment: software development and customisation remains a strong opportunity for entrepreneurs looking for a business sector with growth potential. Mark Lyndersay writes the technology column BitDepth, now in its 14th year of continuous publication 39.17 Mobile subscribers 92.6 Internet users 33.2 62 TTBG 09/10

The Tamana InTech Park On a former World War II airbase at Wallerfield in northeast Trinidad, the Caribbean’s first Science and Technology Park is taking shape. It is the centrepiece of Trinidad and Tobago’s strategy of moving “from development based on trade to development based on innovation, knowledge and technology”, according to the government agency responsible, eTecK (the Evolving TecKnologies and Enterprise Development Company). ICT Information Communications and Technology (ICT) lies at the heart of the project, and is seen as the key to diversifying national revenue generation. The 1,100-acre park will be equipped with state-of-the-art ICT infrastructure and will drive the expansion of local ICT capability and e-government services. ICT is also the platform for developing high-tech manufacturing and agro-industry on the site. Blanket wi-fi coverage, Internet access, VOIP phones, and a range of connectivity and data centre services will be an essential part of the innovative environment. Tenants If eTecK has its way, the park will become “home to major global technology players and the place where groundbreaking and innovative ideas will emerge.” It has already attracted interest from a variety of potential clients, including software developers, biometrics researchers and business intelligence incubators. Its largest tenant, the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), will provide synergy between industries and academia to encourage industry-sponsored research and management of innovation and intellectual property. In the “high value manufacturing” sector of the park, output will be based on processes which use materials where Trinidad and Tobago already has a competitive advantage, such as iron and If eTecK has its way, the park will become “home to major global technology players and the place where groundbreaking and innovative ideas will emerge” steel, aluminium, polypropylene, ammonia and methanol. There are other significant attractions for companies thinking about investing in Tamana. Quite apart from the full and enthusiastic support of the government, tenants will have preferential access to international markets, thanks to wide-ranging trade agreements, and foreign investors will be able to use Tamana as a launch pad into the Caribbean, European and North American markets. 09/10 TTBG 63

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