The Turks and Caicos Islands Telecommunications Commission (TCTC) has successfully completed its Emergency Preparedness Agreement (EPA) between the Islands' network operators, Digicel and Flow.
The EPA marks the final stage of the TCTC Telecommunications Emergency Preparedness and Response Policy (TEPRP), the aim of which is to mitigate the risk of disruption to communications networks and services in the event of a disaster or emergency.
TCI is located in the Caribbean region, which is frequently affected by hurricanes and has historically experienced significant damage to the telecommunications infrastructure. As a result, the Government of TCI and the Commission have spearheaded the creation of an effective policy that would safeguard the resilience of emergency and other priority calls during times of emergency.
The Emergency Preparedness Agreement (EPA) is a legal document that encompasses an emergency-activated telecommunications network capacity backup plan. It covers implementation measures that will be in place in times of national emergencies, including those resulting from severe weather events.
This agreement provides a framework to formalise the role of all network operators - specifically, how they will work with other stakeholders and partners to maintain mobile and internet services for specific groups during a declared period of national emergency.
The provisions included in this Agreement are primarily to enable the TCI Government, emergency services, appointed third parties and relief agencies to coordinate appropriate disaster response and humanitarian efforts, disseminate emergency information messages, and manage logistics to help rebuild national infrastructure.
Secondly, as supported by this policy, a reliable communication network helps ensure that TCI citizens have the necessary resources during an emergency. This includes having access to 911 services, emergency information, and liaising with government agencies and their appointed third parties.
The two operators in the Turks and Caicos are Flow and Digicel. Joanne Missick, Country Manager, Flow TCI, emphasised that the company remains committed to connecting the communities of the TCI, especially during crisis situations, adding, "as a leading corporate citizen for well over 100 years, Flow is pleased to support the government's initiative to create a framework that formalises the role of all telecommunications operators in the event of an emergency to ensure our country and residents remain connected to mobile and internet services."
Addison Stoddard, CEO of Digicel TCI, said, "We are proud to have worked on this Agreement with the TCI Telecommunications Commission. As a communications company, connecting our customers to the people they love is our reason for being, and we know that this becomes even more critical during an emergency. Through this partnership with Flow and the Commission, to facilitate effective and efficient communications during a crisis, we know that we are all doing our part to be Better Together for the people of TCI."
Minister of Telecommunications, Hon. Otis Morris summarises, "We thank Flow and Digicel for their cooperation and efforts in concluding this milestone agreement. Our emergency preparedness and response policy will help protect Islanders and bring safeguards for the future. We're all committed to working together to ensure our communities are safe and secure."