How well did we do with our predictions for 2012?

We are reviewing our predictions of what we believed might have been some of the big tech/ICT stories of 2012.

In our first post for 2012, we highlighted what we believe might be important issues during the year: see 10 topics that will be in the news in 2012. Here, we review those predictions to see how well we fared.

1.  Cyber crime and security

The year coming to a close was a big year for cybercrime and cybersecurity. A number of organisations both internationally and in the Caribbean were reported in the news as having experienced unauthorised intrusions, which in some instances resulted in the theft of information. In the region, we also had a number of cases of ATM fraud, along with lottery and advanced payment scams, which began to highlight the breadth and depth of the threats to which victims are being subject.

2.  Online piracy

In late 2011, we highlighted the draft Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which Had been introduced in the United States House of Representatives. Although it was rejected early this year, other pieces of legislation, such as the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, more commonly referred to as the PROTECT IP Act and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Act (ACTA), reinforced the fact that online Intellectual Property Rights was still high on developed countries’, especially the United States’, agenda.

We must also draw attention to the takedown of Megaupload, which the United States Government alleged engaged in or facilitated copyright violations. The company directors and members of its executive were arrested and Megaupload subscribers were barred from accessing data they had stored on the site, which in many instances was subsequently was deleted, all of which effectively obliterated the service.

3.  The BlackBerry

The saga of the BlackBerry continued this year, with industry analysts taking bets as to how much longer the BlackBerry and its parent company, Research in Motion (RIM), might last. Within the company, major changes occurred. Both co-founders were ousted as co-CEOs and a concerted effort to downsize operations commenced.

Although RIM was continually in the news during 2012, and even released a few new devices, it was not a stellar year for the company, and neither was it one where it attempted a comeback. Release of the much-anticipated Operating System (OS), BlackBerry 10, has been delayed by almost a year, but is slated to be launched on 30 January 2013.

4.  Near Field Communications

Near Field Communications (NFC) did not appear to gain the prominence expected over the past 12 months. Although a number of smartphones using the Android OS 4.0 (also known as Ice Cream Sandwich) were launched, the capability was not widely promoted until Samsung began to feature it in its Christmas advertising with the tagline “the next big thing is here”.

5. True 4G adoption

Although the standards for Long Term Evolution (LTE) Advanced and WiMAX 2 have been finalised, it does not yet appear that the industry is ready to begin implementing one or both of those true 4G standards. Manufacturers and policymakers in the Americas, in particular, are still referring to LTE, Evolved High Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) as “4G”, and are still releasing devices compatible with those standards.

6.  Number portability

Number portability was in the news this year throughout the Caribbean, as a several countries either embarked upon, or continued with plans to implement it. For many countries, such as Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago, the consultation processes have been completed, and the implementation framework either has been, or is in the process of being, finalised. In many instances, the telcos will be leading the process towards number portability, which ought to be completed within specified timeframes.

7.  Sector liberalisation and competition

Evidenced by the number of entries in our weekly news roundups, sector liberalisation and competition was a hot topic this year in the Bahamas, Jamaica, and to a lesser extent Guyana. Both the Bahamas and Guyana are yet to fully liberalise all of their telecoms markets. Guyana is still in the process of enacting new legislation and establishing a timeline in which full liberalisation will be achieved. On the other hand, the Bahamas has also been roundly criticised for its attempt to retrieve a majority stake in the incumbent telecoms provider, the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC). However, it appears that negotiations with BTC’s parent company, Cable and Wireless Communications, have stalled.

In Jamaica, where the telecoms sector has been fully liberalised for a number of years, 2012 saw the completion of Claro Jamaica’s assimilation into Digicel Jamaica. Additionally, amendments to the Telecommunications Act were enacted, which led to the establishment of interim interconnection charges, and a significant drop in mobile/cellular calling rates across the industry.

8.  LIME

To date, the changes in LIME across the Caribbean have not appeared to be as revolutionary as might have been expected. Having said this, initiatives such as 4G service, Fibre-to-the Home and Subscriber TV were launched, to varying degrees, across the region during the year.  Further, and as reflected in its parent company’s half year report, LIME’s operations in Jamaica are showing signs of recovery after years of significant losses.

9.  Internet Exchange Points

Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) were still widely promoted in the Caribbean over the past 12 months. However, only one additional country, St. Kitts and Nevis, publicly committed to have it installed, which brings the total to three countries in the English-speaking Caribbean that have IXPs.

10.  Mobile broadband

To varying degrees, mobile broadband service has improved across the region from where it was a year ago. Mobile data plans, using “4G”technology, have been rolled out in some markets. However, with the uncertainty around BlackBerry and the aggressive promotion of the Apple iPhone, and Android-based smartphones, there has been a growing demand for mobile data services, which has caused some adjustments in the plans and their pricing.


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