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NFMU beefs up spectrum monitoring capacity; illegal frequency use confirmed

NFMU staff members including the Minister of Public Telecommunications,Cathy Hughes and Head of the National Frequency Management Unit, Valmikki Singh outside one of the frequency monitoring stations.

Guyana’s National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) on Thursday officially commissioned three high-tech spectrum monitoring stations that will allow the country to effectively police that natural resource.

“For the first time, we can measure accurately how that spectrum is being used, who is using that spectrum. We can bring transparency to the process. We can ensure  that we reduce the illegal use of spectrum and since spectrum is a national resource, it belongs to the people and it belongs to Guyana, it is important to ensure that, as a country, we are able to garnish the best resources for the spectrum that is available to us,” said Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes.

The more than US$560,000 worth of  American-made fixed and mobile equipment will allow the NFMU to ascertain whether persons are illegally transmitting and from where as well as the quality and interference of licensed frequencies. The range is from 5 kilohertz to 5 gigahertz.

NFMU staff members including the Minister of Public Telecommunications,Cathy Hughes and Head of the National Frequency Management Unit, Valmikki Singh outside one of the frequency monitoring stations.

Head of the NFMU, Valmikki Singh said already less than one dozen unauthorised frequency transmissions have been identified and that information would be forwarded to the Ministry of Public Telecommunications for advice. “We had known of some before and it just authenticated it. Essentially, it is for us to address it through the Ministry of Public Telecoms in terms of how we address the actual infractions,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

In addition to radio and television frequencies, the equipment can also detect and monitor frequencies that can be used by mobile phone service providers.

Among those present were Chairwoman of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Attorney-at-Law, Dela Britton and Chairman of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA), Attorney-at-Law, Leslie Sobers.

In his remarks at the commissioning ceremony, Singh highlighted that the NFMU’s goal is to manage the limited s-spectrum by maximising efficiency, minimising interference and eliminating unauthorised and improper use of the spectrum.

The equipment was supplied by the California, United States-headquartered TCI International Inc at a cost  of US$563,873 after that company was selected from among four bids by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB). TCI has already deployed spectrum monitoring systems across the world including Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname. Singh explained that the three stations could be integrated or operate as standalone systems.

Head of the NFMU, Valmikki Singh and Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes at mobile spectrum monitoring station.

“Because of the mix, we think we can actually maximise the usage of it,” he said of the fixed, transportable and mobile stations. The fixed station and antenna are located on the roof of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a short distance from the NFMU’s headquarters on Charlotte Street. He said that station monitors Georgetown and its environs, while trailer- transportable station will be taken to several areas across the country and the mobile station, which is housed in a four-wheeled pickup is geared for rapid deployment.

The NFMU Head said as spectrum usage increases outside Georgetown, fixed monitoring sites would be established in other areas of Guyana based on evidence gathered. Authorities expect there will be increased spectrum use as the capital towns are developed.

 

Six staff members have been trained by TCI to use the spectrum monitoring equipment that can detect signal

Head of the NFMU, Valmikki Singh and Chairman of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority, Valmikki Singh speaking near the mobile spectrum monitoring station.

location, field strength, inter-modulation, spectrum occupancy by users and other types of features.

The Minister of Public Telecommunications said a consultant will soon submit his final report on spectrum use and pricing at a time when Guyana is about to liberalise its telecommunications sector.

Mobile phone companies, marine, aviation, public and private security agencies, taxi services and mining companies are among those that use the spectrum to communicate on a variety of frequencies.