The First Telecommunications Summit held at the Capitol Wednesday spurred the creation of an multi-sector committee to manage services in the event of an emergency and proposed amendments to the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Act.
The event — an initiative of the Senate’s Commission on Innovation, Telecommunications, Urban Planning and Infrastructure, chaired by Miguel Laureano — succeeded in getting the island’s leading telecom companies to present their recommendations and make proposals on the obstacles they have had in their recovery plans after last year’s back-to-back hurricanes.
The gathering also drew participation from La Fortaleza, the Puerto Rico Planning Board, the Emergency Management Office, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Regulatory Board (TRB), among others.
Jorge Martel, vice president of T- Mobile in Puerto Rico, in addition to offering details on the recovery process, presented several suggestions including: exploring the possibility of there being more redundancy in some facilities; that immediate attention be given to Vieques; having more telecom assets; and require information from PREPA on its work plans to make investments and recovery more efficient.
Meanwhile, Claro Puerto Rico President Enrique Ortiz de Montellano spoke about the importance of matching the regulations of every government agency to the Telecom Act. He also supported the call for incentives so that companies can have an inventory of equipment to promptly address any emergency, which would make recovery faster.
He also recommended that both the Senate and the TRB continue conducting meetings with the Federal Communications to lock down greater support from the regulator.
For his part, AT&T’s José Morán-Sifre took the opportunity to recommend that the coordination of information and plans be an interagency effort, and that an emergency declaration should be automatic with instructions and procedures for both ports as for agencies. He also called for exploring waivers in construction and other necessary work during a recovery process.
Sen. Laureano-Correa said the information gathered during the summit will serve to generate bills that can contribute to the industry and the government.
“Certainly, the summit has been successful thanks to the commitment of all participants and their contributions to ensure telecom service continues to strengthen and improve to benefit consumes,” he said.
As part of the measures, he announced the creation of a Multisector Telecommunications Emergency Management Committee, which will support recovery efforts after the passage of a hurricane or natural disaster. It will comprise state and federal agencies, as well as telecom companies.
“This summit managed to harmonize communication between private companies, PREPA and government agencies,” said Laureano, noting the proposals presented will be the base for bills and public hearings with participation from consumers from different parts of the island where the most telecom problems were detected.
The Planning Board’s Ana Corrada predicted the agency would be present in the efforts to establish the Committee and offered support everything that is proposed to improve telecom infrastructure on the island.
Meanwhile, TRB President Sandra Torres urged PREPA to join the efforts “to complete them in a faster and more agile manner.”