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The world’s latest cyber attack – WannaCry

The world’s latest cyber attack – WannaCry

 Microsoft slams government secrecy

WASHINGTON/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Officials across the globe scrambled over the weekend to catch the culprits behind a massive ransomware worm that disrupted operations at car factories, hospitals, shops and schools, while Microsoft on Sunday pinned blame on the U.S. government for not disclosing more software vulnerabilities.

Cyber security experts said the spread of the worm dubbed WannaCry – “ransomware” that locked up more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries – had slowed but that the respite might only be brief amid fears new versions of the worm will strike.

In a blog post on Sunday, Microsoft President Brad Smith appeared to tacitly acknowledge what researchers had already widely concluded: The ransomware attack leveraged a hacking tool, built by the U.S. National Security Agency, that leaked online in April.

“This is an emerging pattern in 2017,” Smith wrote. “We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world.”

He also poured fuel on a long-running debate over how government intelligence services should balance their desire to keep software flaws secret – in order to conduct espionage and cyber warfare – against sharing those flaws with technology companies to better secure the internet.

“This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem,” Smith wrote. He added that governments around the world should “treat this attack as a wake-up call” and “consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits.”

The NSA and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the Microsoft statement.

Economic experts offered differing views on how much the attack, and associated computer outages, would cost businesses and governments.

The non-profit U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit research institute estimated that total losses would range in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but not exceed $1 billion.

Most victims were quickly able to recover infected systems with backups, said the group’s chief economist, Scott Borg.

California-based cyber risk modeling firm Cyence put the total economic damage at $4 billion, citing costs associated with businesses interruption.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday night ordered his homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, to convene an “emergency meeting” to assess the threat posed by the global attack, a senior administration official told Reuters.

Senior U.S. security officials held another meeting in the White House Situation Room on Saturday, and the FBI and the NSA were working to help mitigate damage and identify the perpetrators of the massive cyber attack, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The investigations into the attack were in the early stages, however, and attribution for cyber attacks is notoriously difficult.

The original attack lost momentum late on Friday after a security researcher took control of a server connected to the outbreak, which crippled a feature that caused the malware to rapidly spread across infected networks.

Infected computers appear to largely be out-of-date devices that organizations deemed not worth the price of upgrading or, in some cases, machines involved in manufacturing or hospital functions that proved too difficult to patch without possibly disrupting crucial operations, security experts said.

Microsoft released patches last month and on Friday to fix a vulnerability that allowed the worm to spread across networks, a rare and powerful feature that caused infections to surge on Friday.

Code for exploiting that bug, which is known as “Eternal Blue,” was released on the internet last month by a hacking group known as the Shadow Brokers.

The head of the European Union police agency said on Sunday the cyber assault hit 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries and that number would grow when people return to work on Monday.

MONDAY MORNING RUSH?

Monday was expected to be a busy day, especially in Asia, which may not have seen the worst of the impact yet, as companies and organizations turned on their computers.

“Expect to hear a lot more about this tomorrow morning when users are back in their offices and might fall for phishing emails” or other as yet unconfirmed ways the worm may propagate, said Christian Karam, a Singapore-based security researcher.

The attack hit organizations of all sizes.

Renault said it halted manufacturing at plants in France and Romania to prevent the spread of ransomware.

Other victims include is a Nissan manufacturing plant in Sunderland, northeast England, hundreds of hospitals and clinics in the British National Health Service, German rail operator Deutsche Bahn and international shipper FedEx Corp

A Jakarta hospital said on Sunday that the cyber attack had infected 400 computers, disrupting the registration of patients and finding records.

Account addresses hard-coded into the malicious WannaCry virus appear to show the attackers had received just under $32,500 in anonymous bitcoin currency as of (1100 GMT) 7 a.m. EDT on Sunday, but that amount could rise as more victims rush to pay ransoms of $300 or more.

The threat receded over the weekend after a British-based researcher, who declined to give his name but tweets under the profile @MalwareTechBlog, said he stumbled on a way to at least temporarily limit the worm’s spread by registering a web address to which he noticed the malware was trying to connect.

Security experts said his move bought precious time for organizations seeking to block the attacks.

 

Posted in Opinions, Technology0 Comments

More disruptions feared from cyber attack; Microsoft slams government secrecy

More disruptions feared from cyber attack; Microsoft slams government secrecy

A hooded man holds a laptop computer as blue screen with an exclamation mark is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration
 Reuters
Indonesia’s Minister of Communications and Information, Rudiantara, speaks to journalists during a press conference about the recent cyber attack, at a cafe in Jakarta, Indonesia May 14, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside
A worker is seen completing final checks on the production line at Nissan car plant in Sunderland, northern England, June 24, 2010. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis/File photo
Pedestrians walk past an accident and emergency department at a hospital in London, Britain May 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
An ambulance is parked at The Royal London Hospital in London, Britain May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland, U.S. on January 29, 2010. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files
FILE PHOTO: A man types on a computer keyboard in front of the displayed cyber code in this illustration picture taken on March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo

WASHINGTON/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Officials across the globe scrambled over the weekend to catch the culprits behind a massive ransomware worm that disrupted operations at car factories, hospitals, shops and schools, while Microsoft on Sunday pinned blame on the U.S. government for not disclosing more software vulnerabilities.

Cyber security experts said the spread of the worm dubbed WannaCry – “ransomware” that locked up more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries – had slowed but that the respite might only be brief amid fears new versions of the worm will strike.

In a blog post on Sunday, Microsoft President Brad Smith appeared to tacitly acknowledge what researchers had already widely concluded: The ransomware attack leveraged a hacking tool, built by the U.S. National Security Agency, that leaked online in April.

“This is an emerging pattern in 2017,” Smith wrote. “We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world.”

He also poured fuel on a long-running debate over how government intelligence services should balance their desire to keep software flaws secret – in order to conduct espionage and cyber warfare – against sharing those flaws with technology companies to better secure the internet.

“This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem,” Smith wrote. He added that governments around the world should “treat this attack as a wake-up call” and “consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits.”

The NSA and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the Microsoft statement.

Economic experts offered differing views on how much the attack, and associated computer outages, would cost businesses and governments.

The non-profit U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit research institute estimated that total losses would range in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but not exceed $1 billion.

Most victims were quickly able to recover infected systems with backups, said the group’s chief economist, Scott Borg.

California-based cyber risk modeling firm Cyence put the total economic damage at $4 billion, citing costs associated with businesses interruption.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday night ordered his homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, to convene an “emergency meeting” to assess the threat posed by the global attack, a senior administration official told Reuters.

Senior U.S. security officials held another meeting in the White House Situation Room on Saturday, and the FBI and the NSA were working to help mitigate damage and identify the perpetrators of the massive cyber attack, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The investigations into the attack were in the early stages, however, and attribution for cyber attacks is notoriously difficult.

The original attack lost momentum late on Friday after a security researcher took control of a server connected to the outbreak, which crippled a feature that caused the malware to rapidly spread across infected networks.

Infected computers appear to largely be out-of-date devices that organizations deemed not worth the price of upgrading or, in some cases, machines involved in manufacturing or hospital functions that proved too difficult to patch without possibly disrupting crucial operations, security experts said.

Microsoft released patches last month and on Friday to fix a vulnerability that allowed the worm to spread across networks, a rare and powerful feature that caused infections to surge on Friday.

Code for exploiting that bug, which is known as “Eternal Blue,” was released on the internet last month by a hacking group known as the Shadow Brokers.

The head of the European Union police agency said on Sunday the cyber assault hit 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries and that number would grow when people return to work on Monday.

MONDAY MORNING RUSH?

Monday was expected to be a busy day, especially in Asia, which may not have seen the worst of the impact yet, as companies and organizations turned on their computers.

“Expect to hear a lot more about this tomorrow morning when users are back in their offices and might fall for phishing emails” or other as yet unconfirmed ways the worm may propagate, said Christian Karam, a Singapore-based security researcher.

The attack hit organizations of all sizes.

Renault said it halted manufacturing at plants in France and Romania to prevent the spread of ransomware.

Other victims include is a Nissan manufacturing plant in Sunderland, northeast England, hundreds of hospitals and clinics in the British National Health Service, German rail operator Deutsche Bahn and international shipper FedEx Corp

A Jakarta hospital said on Sunday that the cyber attack had infected 400 computers, disrupting the registration of patients and finding records.

Account addresses hard-coded into the malicious WannaCry virus appear to show the attackers had received just under $32,500 in anonymous bitcoin currency as of (1100 GMT) 7 a.m. EDT on Sunday, but that amount could rise as more victims rush to pay ransoms of $300 or more.

The threat receded over the weekend after a British-based researcher, who declined to give his name but tweets under the profile @MalwareTechBlog, said he stumbled on a way to at least temporarily limit the worm’s spread by registering a web address to which he noticed the malware was trying to connect.

Security experts said his move bought precious time for organizations seeking to block the attacks.

(Additional reporting by Jim Finkle, Neil Jerome Morales, Masayuki Kitano, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Jose Rodriguez, Elizabeth Piper, Emmanuel Jarry, Orathai Sriring, Jemima Kelly, Alistair Smout, Andrea Shalal, Jack Stubbs, Antonella Cinelli, Kate Holton, Andy Bruce, Michael Holden, David Milliken, Tim Hepher, Luiza Ilie, Patricia Rua, Axel Bugge, Sabine Siebold, Eric Walsh, Engen Tham, Fransiska Nangoy, Soyoung Kim, Mai Nguyen and Nick Zieminski; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Peter Cooney)

 

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The top five winners in PitchIT were women. Nerissa - second rt.(PitchIT Caribbean photo)

Nerissa Golden Wins at PitchIT Caribbean Challenge

BY · DECEMBER 5, 2016

 

The top five winners in PitchIT were women. Nerissa - second rt.(PitchIT Caribbean photo)

The top five winners in PitchIT were women. Nerissa – second rt. (PitchIT Caribbean photo)

An idea from a tiny island broke the stranglehold that Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago were about to have on the second installment of the PitchIT Caribbean Challenge.

Nerissa Golden from Montserrat won a coveted Top 5 spot in the mobile application competition held December 2 and 3 in Trinidad.

PitchIT is a competition to discover new startup and mobile app ideas from across the Caribbean. It is funded through EPIC which is a World Bank Group and Government of Canada program to stimulate entrepreneurship in the region.

The two-day event followed an intense two days of boot camp where 25 finalists from the Caribbean worked to reinvent their ideas and early startups. The five winners will each be awarded a coveted spot in PitchIT Caribbean business accelerators located in Barbados, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis and Trinidad & Tobago, as well as US$5,000 in seed funding to help develop their businesses. The acceleration services will include mentoring by business and technology experts, networking opportunities, working space and facilities, expense-paid trips to international conferences and competitions, as well as intense product development and investor readiness training.

“It really was a good experience. We worked with coaches from various disciplines on how to articulate our problem better and to find alternative revenue streams when it was proven our original ideas wouldn’t be sustainable,” explained Golden, who is a media strategist and editor of Discover Montserrat.

Golden presented in the ideation category an app called IndeTours which is to be a channel for independent tour operators to connect with travellers seeking curated experiences. “I am grateful to Dr Samuel Joseph, Manish Valechha, Dennison Daley and Ursula Barzey who helped me flesh out a lot of the issues I was having with the idea. Also my mentor Alex Straun of St. Kitts who was instrumental with data collection and strategy.”

Four winners were selected from this category and one from the early startup section.

Another remarkable outcome at the competition was that all five winners were women. Kelly-Ann Bethel with SKED, and D Carnival Scene by Ayana St. Louis are from Trinidad & Tobago. QuickPlate by Monique Powell and The Interview JM by Danielle Tait are from Jamaica.

“Considering there were only six women competing out of the 25 for five of us to take the top spots was incredible,” Golden shared. “But the organisers, coaches and judges all commented that they’d never seen the kind of support that existed among the entire group. We wanted to see everyone win so we worked to help make each other’s presentations as strong as they could be.”

Montserrat was one of two OECS member states which made it through to the top 11 spots. The other was Antigua & Barbuda with TickeTing by Ashton Fearon. The other finalists were:  Barbados: Fix Device (Philip Belgrave-Herbert); Jamaica: QuickPlate (Monique Powell), The Interview JM (Danielle Tait), Driving Change (Andre Robb); Trinidad & Tobago: Optimo Cloud (Troy Hector); SKED (Kelly-Ann Bethel); Tech4Agri (Keron Bascombe); D Carnival Scene (Ayana St. Louis); The Billionaires League (Sheldon Powell).

Posted in Featured, International, Local, News, Regional, Technology0 Comments

Apple challenges 'chilling' demand to decrypt San Bernardino shooter's iPhone

Apple challenges ‘chilling’ demand to decrypt San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

Tim Cook publicly attacks the US government for asking Apple to take an ‘unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers’

Apple challenges 'chilling' demand to decrypt San Bernardino shooter's iPhone

Tim Cook has criticised the US government after Apple was ordered to decrypt an iPhone. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

by Stuart Dredge and Danny Yadron

 17th February, 2016

Apple has hit back after a US federal magistrate ordered the company to help the FBI unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, with chief executive Tim Cook describing the demand as “chilling”.

The court order focuses on Apple’s security feature that slows down anyone trying to use “brute force” to gain access to an iPhone by guessing its passcode. In a letter published on the company’s website, Cook responded saying Apple would oppose the order and calling for public debate.

“The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,” he wrote.

While Cook took pains to stress that Apple was “shocked and outraged” by the San Bernardino shooting last December – “we have no sympathy for terrorists” – he said company is determined to push back against the court order.

Cook wrote that opposing the order “is not something we take lightly”.

“We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the US government,” he added.

“Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the US government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone,” he wrote.

“Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation.”

Cook claimed that “in the wrong hands” this software could be used to unlock “any iPhone in someone’s physical possession”, and warned that Apple would not be able to guarantee that the software would only be used by the FBI in this case.

“The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals,” he wrote.

“The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe. We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack.”

FBI director James Comey has said that his agents are searching for evidence about the mass shooting on 2 December 2015 which killed 14, but have been locked out of one of the killers’ phone.

The investigators are trying to determine to what extent married couple Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were influenced by radical Islamic terrorist groups, as well as who they had been communicating with before the shootings. Investigators have been unable to access Farook’s iPhone 5C

Sheri Pym, the federal judge, has ordered Apple not to turn off its encryption but to make it easier for federal agents to randomly guess the iPhone’s passcode. Apple has built a security feature into iPhones so that a phone slows down anyone trying to “brute force” his way into a phone by guessing passcode after passcode.

The built-in delay is so substantial that Apple said it would take someone 5 1/2 years to guess every possible code for a single device.

The court order requires Apple to circumvent that delay. “[Apple] will ensure that when the FBI submits passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE, software running on the device will not purposefully introduce any additional delay between passcode attempts beyond what is incurred Apple hardware,” it reads.

The magistrate also wants Apple to turn off any “auto-erase” functions on the phone, if enabled. This will be done with a program Apple is ordered to write and will allow FBI agents to install it on the suspect’s phone at a federal or Apple facility, according to the order.

Apple is allowed to provide a cost estimate and rebuttal if it “believes that compliance with the Order would be unreasonably burdensome”. It also allowed Apple the option of coming up with another way to achieve the same result.

Some security experts believe it would be technically possible for Apple to comply with the court order because the phone in question is an older model, while it probably wouldn’t be possible on a newer iPhone due to improvements in security.

In his letter, Cook claimed that the FBI’s use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify its request also could have a knock-on effect. The 225-year-old law gives courts broad authority to ensure their orders are fulfilled.

“The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data,” he wrote.

“The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”

Cook concludes: “We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.

“While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”

Digital-rights body the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has thrown its weight behind Apple’s stance, in a blog post written by its deputy executive director and general counsel, Kurt Opsahl.

“Essentially, the government is asking Apple to create a master key so that it can open a single phone. And once that master key is created, we’re certain that our government will ask for it again and again, for other phones, and turn this power against any software or device that has the audacity to offer strong security,” wrote Opsahl.

“The US government wants us to trust that it won’t misuse this power. But we can all imagine the myriad ways this new authority could be abused. Even if you trust the US government, once this master key is created, governments around the world will surely demand that Apple undermine the security of their citizens as well.”

 

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Government Information – Notice

PIN Notice

 This is a prior information notice (PIN) only: publication and call for competition will only be conducted when final approval is given for programme design and funding.

The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) intends to fund the provision of a new submarine fibre optic cable for the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean. The new cable will link with the neighbouring islands of Antigua and St Kitts and Nevis. Due to volcanic activity the island has been without fibre optic connectivity since 1997 and has since relied on a precarious and expensive microwave link with Antigua. The lack of fibre connectivity has been one of the main constraints affecting Montserrat’s prospects for economic growth.

The key outputs envisaged for this programme are:

  • The provision of a submarine cable, laid between Montserrat and Antigua and Montserrat and St Kitts and Nevis. This will require the necessary preparation works, including but not limited to obtaining required permissions and Environmental Impact Assessments. The cable will be the property of the Government of Montserrat.
  • The laid fibre optic cable connected to landing site and ready for connection to on island infrastructure.
  • The provision and maintenance of effective fibre optic service for the island of Montserrat.
  • Effective communications and partnership with key stakeholders: DFID, Government of Montserrat Department of Information Technology and E-Government Services (DITES), Government of Antigua, St Kitts and Nevis.

DFID would like to ask the market a series of guiding questions about the tender and would like a written response to them. These questions can be found on the DFID Portal https://supplierportal.dfid.gov.uk/selfservice/ using the reference number PO 7271. Further information and supporting documentation is available via the supplier portal.

Parties interested in submitting a written response or requiring any other information should register interest via the DFID Portal. Written responses should be received no later than 14:00 UK time on Monday 10th August 2015 and should be no more than 5 A4 pages in length in Arial font 12.

After we have reviewed the written responses a Partners/Suppliers Information Day is planned at DFID’s offices in Brades and Whitehall with the aim of further gauging interest in the project, engaging with the market to gain expert opinion, exploring possible approaches and increasing DFID’s knowledge on how best to proceed with this programme.

This is Information Day is indicatively planned for Thursday 27th August (9:30 local time and 14:30 UK time), and will be confirmed within the coming days. The two hour session will include a presentation and Q&A session regarding the programme and the services required. This will be an opportunity for interested parties to learn more about DFID, the role expected of any appointed supplier, and to discuss innovative approaches to programme delivery

Partners/Suppliers are encouraged to register on the DFID Portal and use the ‘Dialogue/ Clarification’ function on the DFID Portal in advance of this meeting to raise initial questions or recommendations.

For logistical reasons, the deadline to register an intention to attend the engagement session is Monday 24th August. Attendance should be confirmed via the ‘Dialogue/ Clarification’ function on the DFID Portal.

Posted in Classified, Local, Technology, Uncategorized1 Comment

DSC_1798

Digicel opens big with launch of 4G services in Montserrat

By Staff Reporters

The first Digicel customers in Montserrat DSC_1756  DSC_1778 DSC_1798DSC_1763BRADES, Montserrat – Montserrat became the 33rd country on Monday to fly the banner of the company dubbed ‘the Bigger Better Network, Digicel.’

In an almost surprise launch for many, the company unveiled its new flagship store at Farara Plaza in Brades, with an attractive incentive to subscribers of its cable services. This saw hundreds of clients waiting in lines to claim their free smartphone with the purchase of a SIM card for the price of $20.00.

For clients unfamiliar with how to use a smartphone, a short video presentation was delivered by sales representatives. While officials expressed surprise at the large turnout, local manager Mrs. Petronella Browne said the presentations will be offered as long as they were necessary to help customers feel comfortable with the features which were now at their fingertips.

Honourable Minister Claude Hogan speaking in place of the Premier who was at the time welcoming Antigua’s Prime Minister to the island, said at the opening he was very impressed with the speed and work ethic of the people involved in bringing Digicel into the market in three months. He commended the Montserrat Information and Communications Authority (MICA) which has responsibility for spectrum management for designing the strategy which enabled Digicel to get into the market within a short space of time.

He noted that telecommunications was now critical to human development and this entry brought Montserrat closer to creating call centres and other technology-based ventures which will positively impact the island’s economy.

Honourable Minister of Telecommunications Works and Labour Paul Lewis said the Digicel launch signaled a “win for Montserrat” and commended the company for “braving the way into the market. If competition means that the consumers will benefit then I will back it 200%.” The Minister did the honours of cutting the big, red ribbon to open the doors to the already large crowd waiting after the brief opening ceremony which took place in front of the Government House entrance.

Meanwhile in a later release “We are pleased with the overwhelming response from Montserratians for this launch,” says Victor Corcoran, CEO of Digicel, Antigua. “Digicel’s presence on Montserrat is not just about business,” he continues. “It’s about providing the best value, best service and best network to our customers.”

According to Corcoran, the group acquired Caribbean Cable Communications (CCC) in November of 2013, and is giving a landmark offer of a FREE DL700 Smartphone to all CCC customers once they sign up as a new Digicel customer. For customers who activate a Digicel 4G data plan, the telecommunications company is also giving four-times the data, with prices starting as low as $2. As a lead in price, for a limited time, data that was 30MB will be 120MB.

One already Digicel customer said: “I am extremely pleased that the monopoly barrier has been broken,” he says. “Competition in the market will force companies to provide better service and affordable prices. The people came out in droves to welcome Digicel,” he continues. “Judging from that response and Digicel’s reputation in the other islands, I think Montserratians are satisfied that this company will raise the bar in terms of efficiency and customer satisfaction.”

The day also included a carnival-infused motorcade from Salem to Lookout which incorporated the unique sights, sounds and culture of Montserrat. The recently crowned Ms. Montserrat, 2013/2014, Tazia Briscoe -Jarrett also a member of the lovely Digi-Girls team, helped to bring the vibes to an already electric atmosphere.

Digicel acquired Caribbean Cable Communications in November 2013 as part of its push to diversify its offerings in the telecommunications market.

The Telecom giant boasts that, “Apart from being a leading global communications provider whose operations, in just 13 years has amassed a total investment of over US$5 billion worldwide, Digicel is also a good corporate citizen.

“From being lead sponsors of various sports teams regionally and internationally, including the West Indies Cricket team, Digicel also runs a host of community-based initiatives across its markets and has set up Digicel Foundations in Haiti, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea and Trinidad and Tobago which focus on educational, cultural and social development programmes.”

Posted in Local, News, Technology4 Comments

Untitled-4

Digicel opens big with launch of 4G services in Montserrat

By Staff Reporters

DSC_1772

DSC_1789

The cutting of the ribbon

Untitled-4BRADES, Montserrat – Montserrat became the 33rd country on Monday to fly the banner of the company dubbed ‘the Bigger Better Network, Digicel.’

In an almost surprise launch for many, the company unveiled its new flagship store at Farara Plaza in Brades, with an attractive incentive to subscribers of its cable services. This saw hundreds of clients waiting in lines to claim their free smartphone with the purchase of a SIM card for the price of $20.00.

For clients unfamiliar with how to use a smartphone, a short video presentation was delivered by sales representatives. While officials expressed surprise at the large turnout, local manager Mrs. Petronella Browne said the presentations will be offered as long as they were necessary to help customers feel comfortable with the features which were now at their fingertips.

DSC_1756

Hon. Claude Hogan

Untitled-3

Digicel Headquarters at Farara Plaza in Brades

Honourable Minister Claude Hogan speaking in place of the Premier who was at the time welcoming Antigua’s Prime Minister to the island, said at the opening he was very impressed with the speed and work ethic of the people involved in bringing Digicel into the market in three months. He commended the Montserrat Information and Communications Authority (MICA) which has responsibility for spectrum management for designing the strategy which enabled Digicel to get into the market within a short space of time.

He noted that telecommunications was now critical to human development and this entry brought Montserrat closer to creating call centres and other technology-based ventures which will positively impact the island’s economy.

DSC_1757

Hon. Paul Lewis

Honourable Minister of Telecommunications Works and Labour Paul Lewis said the Digicel launch signaled a “win for Montserrat” and commended the company for “braving the way into the market. If competition means that the consumers will benefit then I will back it 200%.” The Minister did the honours of cutting the big, red ribbon to open the doors to the already large crowd waiting after the brief opening ceremony which took place in front of the Government House entrance.

DSC_1779

Digicel Employees

Meanwhile in a later release “We are pleased with the overwhelming response from Montserratians for this launch,” says Victor Corcoran, CEO of Digicel, Antigua. “Digicel’s presence on Montserrat is not just about business,” he continues. “It’s about providing the best value, best service and best network to our customers.”

According to Corcoran, the group acquired Caribbean Cable Communications (CCC) in November of 2013, and is giving a landmark offer of a FREE DL700 Smartphone to all CCC customers once they sign up as a new Digicel customer. For customers who activate a Digicel 4G data plan, the telecommunications company is also giving four-times the data, with prices starting as low as $2. As a lead in price, for a limited time, data that was 30MB will be 120MB.

DSC_1809

Cable customers line up to take advantage of Digicel promotions

One already Digicel customer said: “I am extremely pleased that the monopoly barrier has been broken,” he says. “Competition in the market will force companies to provide better service and affordable prices. The people came out in droves to welcome Digicel,” he continues. “Judging from that response and Digicel’s reputation in the other islands, I think Montserratians are satisfied that this company will raise the bar in terms of efficiency and customer satisfaction.”

DSC_1798

Minister Paul Lewis and Nathalie Weekes

The day also included a carnival-infused motorcade from Salem to Lookout which incorporated the unique sights, sounds and culture of Montserrat. The recently crowned Ms. Montserrat, 2013/2014, Tazia Briscoe -Jarrett also a member of the lovely Digi-Girls team, helped to bring the vibes to an already electric atmosphere.Digicel acquired Caribbean Cable Communications in November 2013 as part of its push to diversify its offerings in the telecommunications market.

The Telecom giant boasts that, “Apart from being a leading global communications provider whose operations, in just 13 years has amassed a total investment of over US$5 billion worldwide, Digicel is also a good corporate citizen.

“From being lead sponsors of various sports teams regionally and internationally, including the West Indies Cricket team, Digicel also runs a host of community-based initiatives across its markets and has set up Digicel Foundations in Haiti, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea and Trinidad and Tobago which focus on educational, cultural and social development programmes.”

Posted in Local, News, Technology4 Comments

Untitled-2

Entrepreneurs challenged to innovate and take advantage of new telco services

By Nerissa Golden

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Mr. Denzil West, Director of the Department for Information Technology and eGovernment Services

Director of the Department for Information Technology and eGovernment Services (DITES), Denzil West has challenged entrepreneurs as well as young people on Montserrat to take advantage of the widening technological offerings on island to create ICT-driven businesses. He is also hoping that LIME and the newest player on the market, Digicel, would fully embrace the plans to reintroduce the sub-c fibre to Montserrat.

This challenge was made at the launch of Digicel 4G services on Monday, December 30, 2014. This launch now gives residents two options for mobile services and in the near future digital television and internet according to officials. He did this with the view that this development would benefit both companies as well as the people of Montserrat.

West said “I would like to encourage young entrepreneurs to pay attention to what is happening in the Info Communications sector and seize the new opportunities which are presenting themselves in this new era of liberalization and wider service offerings.”

“Do not get locked into simply being consumers of other people’s content; let us strive to create and market innovative ICT products to the world market.”

The director, who is also a member of the National ICT Council, also expressed his fervent hope that, “the Telecoms providers in Montserrat both fully embrace the Government’s plans to facilitate the reintroduction of subsea fibre to Montserrat; thereby improving their networks and providing additional resiliency and redundancy to our international communications gateway.”

“I am therefore serving public notice, that going forward microwave backhaul to Antigua will not be seen as sufficient to fulfil Montserrat’s goals in the info communications sector,” he cautioned.

“Both telco’s are now larger and more diversified than when they started the year, and we look forward also to keen competition in the Broadband Internet and High Definition Cable TV markets. We would like to suggest that the Telcos think of Montserrat when rolling out new cutting edge technology; and work with us in our quest to make Montserrat Digital by default,” West declared.

The monopoly telecommunications agreement between Government of Montserrat and Cable & Wireless ended in May 2007 while the monopoly Cable TV agreement between the government and Caribbean Cable Communications ended in January 2008. In 2010 the Information Telecommunications Act was enacted with the requisite regulations following in 2011.

 

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Regional and international telecom executives meet in Dominican Republic

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Dec 16, CMC – The proposed multi-billion dollar merger between the British telecommunications company, Cable and Wireless (CWC) and Columbus International will be among issues discussed in the Dominican Republic in February next year.

Capacity Caribbean 2015 will be held in Punta Cana, February 10-11 and the organisers said that it will provide for an in depth discussion on the Caribbean telecoms market which “is going through a transformative phase, spurring significant growth opportunities for the regional and international communities”.

The organisers said that despite fierce competition, high mobile penetration and many telecoms markets being a duopoly, operators are focussing on the Caribbean as the region’s promising telecoms market continues to evolve.

They said that more than 200 telecom executives will attend the “Capacity Caribbean 2015” that will also feature research-led speaker presentations, panel discussions and dedicated networking sessions.

CWC chief executive, Phil Bentley, has given a commitment to Caribbean governments and regulators that if the company’s three billion US dollar acquisition of Columbus International is approved, the enlarged CWC will not negatively impact competition in the cable and broadband markets.

“In the Caribbean countries in which CWC and Columbus overlap—Jamaica, Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenada—we know that we have to work closely with governments and regulators to ensure that our customers benefit and competition is not compromised,” he said.

Digicel, CWC’s biggest competitor in the Caribbean, has repeatedly stressed that approval of the transaction will provide CWC with market dominance in fixed broadband and in cable.

The organisers said that delegates “will discuss how operators can leverage the geographical position of the Caribbean and continue the telecom growth of the market.

“ The highlight of Capacity Caribbean 2015 will be the announcement of the results of an exclusive Caribbean telecoms survey. Completed by key players in the Caribbean, the survey will look into the region’s confidence with the current regulatory, competitive and investment frameworks. The results of the survey will be revealed for the first time at the conference and will be debated by local telecom operators.”

 

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 Lime gives Montserrat a Christmas UPGRADE as it launches first Mobile 4G on Island

 Lime gives Montserrat a Christmas UPGRADE as it launches first Mobile 4G on Island

Sweeneys, Montserrat

Mobile data speeds never before experienced in Montserrat have now become a reality nationwide for the first time, as LIME launches its brand-new, superfast 4G mobile network.

LIME customers in Montserrat will now automatically have access to the same superfast mobile data speeds, as is now available in global nations such as the USA, UK, and Canada, as long as they have a data enabled device. This also places Monserrat on par with surrounding Caribbean countries already enjoying the latest in superior network technology. Customers now have the opportunity to connect and interact with the latest devices in a 4G powered environment transforming how the live, work and play.

LIME’s 4G network, which uses HSPA+ technology, means that mobile customers will enjoy faster data speeds with quicker access to the Internet. Customers can now watch videos at blazing speeds, simultaneously browse the web while making a call, send e-mails, download photos, apps and music at superfast speeds. They will also have the ability to conduct video conferences on their mobile device, plus much more. Since HSPA+ is compatible with the other mobile technologies already in use on the network, LIME mobile customers with 2G and EDGE compatible devices will be able to continue browsing and using data applications seamlessly.

Manager Ron Lewis

LIME Montserrat’s General Manager, Randolph Lewis said, “LIME has been working tirelessly to bring Montserratians a world-class network and this is now a reality. Our customers have been telling us they want a fast and reliable network that is comparable to the very best in the world. We have responded and have rebuilt our mobile data network with our promised $2.5 million dollar Upgrade Investment plan and rolled out a brand-new 4G mobile network, which will delight our many data and speed hungry customers just in time for the holidays.”

Minister of Communications, Works, Energy and Labour Hon. Paul Lewis said, “I’m extremely pleased with the nationwide availability of the new LIME 4G mobile network. The new network will be a catalyst in supporting the government’s initiatives to allow for wider broadband access, greater productivity and improved training in technology for all Montserratians.

As a responsible corporate partner, LIME has consistently demonstrated its support for the government’s vision in all areas, including the crucial area of information technology.”

LIME’s launch of nationwide 4G is another major milestone for the company and for Montserrat.  The island is expected to have a second Mobile provider shortly and the telecommunications space will become a competitive one for the first time.  General Manager, Randolph Lewis, said, “LIME welcomes competition. We believe it will ultimately benefit our current and new customers on the island.  We have already engaged the team of the other provider.  The public can be assured that we will be working closely with them to ensure that any action required from LIME to enable the delivery of their services to local Montserratians, is executed with speed and excellence.”

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