By Editor-July 6th, 2023.
All 14 parish capitals in Jamaica now have free public Wi-Fi access as the Government continues to expand public Internet access as part of the drive towards digital government services.
Speaking during a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House on Wednesday, Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport Daryl Vaz, informed that the service, which is being provided by the Universal Service Fund (USF), is also available in some public parks, green spaces and along pedestrian thoroughfares.
These online parks include Cecil Charlton Park and Chapelton Park in Manchester; Devon House, Emancipation Park, and Mandela Park, and Olympic Way in St Andrew; Junction, St Elizabeth, and St William Grant Park, Kingston.
In total, 19 public Wi-Fi sites have been established in town centres under the programme dubbed ‘Connect Jamaica’.
Turning to the Community Wi-Fi initiative implemented in 2021 for the installation of three, free Wi-Fi hotspots in each constituency, the Minister said that the programme has been successful.
“I’m pleased to announce that all 189 sites are currently online, with 166 of them being formally launched across all of these constituencies,” Vaz said.
He said that two additional community Wi-Fi sites have been added, “so that would take it to five per constituency times 63”.
He said that 90 per cent of the additional sites have been scoped and designed and the procurement process has begun.
The sites are expected to be launched during the second quarter of this financial year, the Minister said, noting that the project will cost more than $100 million Jamaican dollars.
Minister Vaz also provided an update on the islandwide broadband programme where the USF continues to provide connectivity to schools and public institutions such as post offices, health centres and libraries.
“So far, we have spent over $165 million in doing that,” he indicated.
In addition, a total of 17 Community Access Points (CAPs) have been refurbished through partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and six new CAP sites are to be implemented.
The USF continues to fund the national broadband initiative in collaboration with the National Works Agency (NWA), e-Gov Jamaica, and the Ministry of Education and Youth, where, to date, a total of $924 million has been expended.
In addition, 12 information and communications technology (ICT) clubs have been launched in various schools across the island.