Colombia. The Sixth Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives approved on Thursday in the first debate, the Bill for the Modernization of the ICT Sector, which is part of the National Government's economic reactivation package, and with which it seeks to create the conditions for the effective closing of the digital divide in the country.
The project that will now be debated in the plenary sessions of the Senate and Chamber, seeks to make Colombia a more attractive country for investment, reactivate the ICT sector industry -which has been slowing down- and generate quality employment. In this way, technology can be taken to all corners of the country, especially to rural areas and further away from the national territory.
"This is a bill that positively impacts all Colombians and will allow us to reach all regions by improving connectivity. This is not a bill with some political overtones, the only thing that seeks is to modernize the ICT sector, "said Minister of Information Technology and Communications, Sylvia Constain, after indicating that this article has been widely discussed and discussed with the different sectors, which allowed enriching the text that was approved today.
What is the Modernization Project?
The Bill was filed on September 19, before the General Secretariat of the Senate of the Republic. This initiative is framed in the first pillar of the 2018-2022 policy 'The digital future belongs to all', which seeks to create an ICT environment so that digital development reaches all Colombians.
This Bill will put the institutionality and regulation of the sector in the international standard, in order to stimulate the ICT industry; In this way, a marriage between the public and private sectors will be consolidated, with a single objective: to connect all Colombians and connect them well. That is, the conditions will be created to increase investment and this will be reflected in closing the digital gaps, focusing on the low-income population and rural areas.
The project updates 1341 Law 2009 and its first objective is to increase legal certainty. For this, the allocation of the radioelectric spectrum will be at the head of the ICT Ministry, always privileging the quality and coverage to maximize the social welfare of the entire population. In addition, it is intended to extend the period of permits for the use of the spectrum. Thus, the conditions will be generated to promote the last mile connections in the most remote areas of the country and to reactivate the economy.
In addition, a single rate of consideration for operators will be defined, which balances the loads, resolves the differences that have kept investment in the sector stagnant and encourages competition. With this, the efficiency in the payment will be increased and the use of these resources will be optimized, always looking for the sustainability of the different initiatives.
Another objective is to focus investments for the effective closing of the digital divide, which includes connecting all Colombians and promoting technological appropriation, especially in indigenous, Afro-Colombian, Raizales, Palenqueras and Rrom communities, in addition to people with physical limitations. For this, the creation of a Single Fund is proposed, which brings together the FonTIC and FonTV resources. This will generate incentives to link the private and public sectors in general in their investment initiatives.
The project makes clear that the strengthening of television and public radio will be guaranteed, as well as public audiovisual content of national and regional character, since the resources that historically have been allocated to this item will be maintained with an annual increase.
Likewise, additional resources will be allocated for the generation of multiplatform content of public interest, thanks to the targeting of government investments in the low-income and rural population, with emphasis on public schools in remote areas of the country.
The last objective is the simplification and institutional modernization. For this, the creation of a single and independent regulator for the entire ICT sector is proposed, which includes telecommunications, television, Internet and sound broadcasting services. Likewise, it seeks to unify all the surveillance and control tasks of the operators of these services in the ICT Ministry. Thus, the powers that currently have the National Television Authority (ANTV) will be redistributed. The National Spectrum Agency (ANE) will not have any change in its functions.
A fully connected country and a dynamic ICT industry will be reflected in an increase in productivity and competitiveness in the regions, a decrease in inequality and an increase in employment, which will definitely contribute to the economic reactivation of the country.