TELECOM MARKET TO GROW IN GUAM MILITARY BUILDUP

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By Gerardo R. Partido

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Nov. 27) – The military buildup on Guam will present many business opportunities for information technology and telecommunications firms.

According to government of Guam consultant KPMG, there will be a substantial increase in the demand for information and communication systems to accommodate the population growth and increased levels of commercial activity associated with the military expansion.

The relocation of a military base to Guam will bring about 40,000 additional people to the island, out of which 20,000 are expected to reside outside of the military base.

Apart from increases in housing, education, health and safety requirements, KPMG pointed out that there will also be a substantial increase in IT requirements such as long distance phone calls and Internet bandwidth.

"Increased capacity will be critical to providing an improved connection service as well as speed for Internet services to provide multimedia capabilities including voice, video and data capabilities," KPMG said in its recently released study on the Guam buildup.

Currently, Internet penetration on Guam ranges from 50 to 60 percent. But KPMG warned that additional traffic brought about by the buildup will significantly impact the speed of wireless connections and, in turn, affect various applications in all fields.

"Much required potential for growth is foreseen in the IT industry not only to accommodate the additional population due to military base relocation, but also to facilitate the 4th generation technologies for convergence of wireless voice, video and data services," KPMG said

Among the opportunities for IT and telecom commercial expansion on Guam identified by KPMG is:

• Expansion of fiber optic lines to residential housing and not just limited to commercial establishments;

• Deployment of 4G wireless technologies such as UMTS, WCDMA, EVDO and WiMax;

• Expansion and/or upgrade of submarine cable networks to increase bandwidth to accommodate growth in wireless and wireline infrastructure;

• Deployment of IP Multimedia Subsystem to provide IP-based multimedia services to mobile, fixed or wireless LAN users;

• Auction of WCS band for WiMax deployment by the Federal Communications Commission; and

• Upgrade and enhancement of IT/telecommunication infrastructure for law enforcement and disaster recovery agencies.

"The influx of military personnel, and the impact they will have, presents great opportunities and challenges for the island in the IT and telecommunication sector. Guam’s IT and telecommunication infrastructure will have to be significantly upgraded if it is to be able to absorb this increase and provide all services that will be required," KPMG stressed.

Although Guam is ideally situated as the telecommunications hub of the Pacific, KPMG warned that the physical infrastructure is outdated and does not meet the needs of current and future demands of the military, commercial and residential sectors.

As such, KPMG said increased capacity will be critical to providing an improved connection service as well as speed for Internet services to provide multimedia capabilities including voice, video and data.

Although the commercial sector will likely meet the technical infrastructure improvements, KPMG said the government of Guam may need to support the determination of the future infrastructure capacity requirement and help support the promotion of small businesses in the IT and telecom sector.

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