On internet competition, investment, and innovation in Haiti
My latest piece for Haiti Rewired is about internet infrastructure and access in Haiti. One point I highlight is the lack of tower-sharing arrangements in the country:
In the United States and many other countries, a handful of service providers often share telecoms infrastructure. Usually one firm, and maybe a third-party infrastructure company not in the mobile phone or internet business, owns a tower and leases access to multiple companies. It’s cheaper and more efficient than requiring each company to build towers everywhere.
In Haiti, such tower-sharing isn’t allowed, perhaps because the country’s main legislation governing telecoms is a bit out of date for the wireless age—it hasn’t been updated since 1977.
The result is inefficiencies that drive up the cost of internet access, which most users get via wireless 3G or 4G because of the country’s lack of wired infrastructure. Every internet service provider builds towers on the same mountain-top spots, so each site is littered with about four or five different towers. In remote areas, each tower needs its own generators burning fuel to power each station, polluting the environment four or five times over, and increasing the cost of service ever more.
“Who do you think is paying for that?” Allen Bayard asks. Bayard is CEO of Access Haiti, one of the country’s largest internet service providers. “The end user is paying for that.”
Read the entire piece here.
Photo by flickr user cogdogblog