The government of Antigua and Barbuda has joined up with other regional states to forge ahead with plans to effect a harmonised approach to switching over from analogue to digital broadcasting by the 2015 deadline, with telecoms minister Dr Edmond Mansoor adding that the state is planning to issue two Long Term Evolution (LTE) licences for two additional companies in 1Q13. The discussions over the digital switchover are taking place at a three-day forum organised by the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA) and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU). The Minister of Telecommunications and Broadcasting told delegates: ‘I understand that by the end of 2013, if not by the end of 2015, analogue-free-to-air signals will be switched off and replaced with digital-only signals.’ Dr Mansoor went on to say that demand for broadcast space would be exacerbated by the likely commissioning of 4G LTE technology by two additional telecommunications companies in the first quarter of 2013.
TeleGeography notes that the government has long threatened to introduce further competition to the domestic mobile market in the wake of what it considers the heel-dragging on the incumbents. In October 2011 it issued an LTE ultimatum to the likes of Digicel Antigua and LIME, saying it would license new players unless it indicated an intention to launch a 4G platform. Speaking at the time, Edmond Mansoor said ‘we are simply saying to the existing telecommunication providers that if the government of Antigua and Barbuda does not receive a written assurance by 30 November of this year that they have intentions to deploy a fourth-generation platform in Antigua, that the government of Antigua and Barbuda would consider licensing a new entrant into the marketplace, specifically to bring fourth-generation Long Term Evolution technology’.