Prior to the establishment of the SMA, the spectrum management function in Jamaica was carried out by the Telecommunications Unit within the Post and Telecommunications Department of the Ministry. The activities of the Telecommunications Unit were guided by the Radio and Telegraph Control Act (RTC Act) and its respective Regulations.
The Telecommunications Act (2000) created the SMA. Part IV, Sections 20-26 details the regulation of the spectrum by the Minister and the role of the Authority in advising the Minister on matters related to spectrum management. In its advisory capacity, the SMA is integrally involved in ICT Policy Reform.
In summary, the fundamental role and responsibility of the Authority under the Telecommunications Act is to ensure the efficient use of the radio frequency spectrum. This includes advising the Minister on the:
- Allocation of the spectrum for various services (frequency allocation chart);
- Methods for assigning the spectrum to users;
- Issue of licences authorizing the use of specified portions of the spectrum;
- Establishment of procedures for ensuring the compliance by licensees with respect to the use of the spectrum.
Section 20 (4) of the Telecommunications Act indicates that the Minister may delegate any of his functions (other than the powers of delegations to the Authority). In keeping with this, the Minister in the Telecommunications (Delegation of Function) Order, 2009 delegated to the Authority the function of the Minister exercisable under Section 20 (2) (c) of the Telecommunications Act in relation to the issue of Spectrum licences save and except for mobile spectrum licences and wireless broadband spectrum licences. (See Appendix 1)
Consistent with Section 26 of the Telecommunications Act, the Authority is financed through a cost-recovery mechanism whereby licensed spectrum users are required to pay Regulatory fees to cover the Authority’s reasonable operating costs. The fee mechanism was developed in consultation with spectrum users and is constituted in The Telecommunications (Spectrum Regulatory Fees) Regulations 2003, Jamaica Gazette Supplement Number 33, in April 2003. (See Appendix 2)
The Spectrum licence fees collected by the SMA on behalf of the Government are remitted to the Consolidated Fund.