DIGITAL ISLAND

Guernsey’s Commerce and Employment Minister Deputy Kevin Stewart and board member Deputy Heidi Soulsby popped into Island FM this morning and I interviewed them for our news about the Economic Development Framework six month status update. It sounded dry but surprisingly wasn’t. Most interesting were plans for a new Digital Innovation Centre. If T & R agrees to cough up some cash the island could get a centre that houses and supports start-up digital businesses, trains their staff in things such as coding and nurtures them to potentially make a valuable contribution to the island economy. The idea is to turn the centre into a Public-Private Partnership seeking funding from business as well as the taxpayer. Deputy Stewart is a larger-than-life character who brims with enthusiasm but of course delivery on this and other projects such as the e-finance policy (for which C & E is also bidding for funding from T & R) will be key. Other topics I questioned him on were Bitcoins-they would look out for opportunities with this and other emerging virtual currencies while being cautious because of the risks of money laundering, 4G phones-with licences awarded yesterday to the three incumbents Sure, JT and Airtel-Vodafone both here and in Jersey, he wanted to see a 2% tax on revenue being levied in Guernsey to pay for the use of the radio spectrum. One of the concerns I voiced was JT as the incumbent and States-owned telco in Jersey were investing in a superfast fibre-optic network called Gigabit Jersey. He told me that Sure would be making moves in the same direction here. On the question of Jersey versus Guernsey Deputy Stewart suggested that Jersey was talking the talk but Guernsey was walking the walk. We shall see…

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