JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Since the establishment of the Universal Service Fund (USF) nine years ago, over $12 billion has been collected, enabling the Government to fund broadband services islandwide.
  • The money is generated from a levy on inbound international calls.
  • This was disclosed by Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell during the opening of an Internet café at the Treadways Gospel Assembly in St. Catherine yesterday (Sept. 28).

Since the establishment of the Universal Service Fund (USF) nine years ago, over $12 billion has been collected, enabling the Government to fund broadband services islandwide.

The money is generated from a levy on inbound international calls.

This is in keeping with Government’s efforts to provide more Jamaicans with access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

It includes the creation of an ICT platform in secondary schools, libraries, post offices, and at Community Access Points (CAPs).

This was disclosed by Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell during the opening of an Internet café at the Treadways Gospel Assembly in St. Catherine on September 27.

“When we decided to establish this Universal Service Fund, the carriers from overseas were opposed to it, the American Government was opposed to it…for about three days we couldn’t make international calls, and some people wanted the Minister to resign but we persevered,” he said.

The USF, formerly the Universal Access Fund, is financed through a levy of US$0.03 per minute on inbound international calls terminated to fixed lines, and US$0.02 per minute on calls terminated on mobile lines in Jamaica.

He noted that as a result of the USF, a total of 190 CAPs have been established island wide to provide broadband services to ordinary Jamaicans.

CAPs enable community members to use the Internet at minimal or no cost for facilitate research, bill payment, education, communication, business, marketing, and social networking.

He informed that through the USF, 200 high schools have been equipped with computer labs, as well as the ongoing provision of computer tablets to several schools across the island.

Highlighting the significance of such initiatives, the Minister said they seek to provide the enabling environment for Jamaicans to capitalize on their ingenuity to solve problems in this technologically driven era.

The Treadways Internet café is one of the four projects undertaken by Civil Servant of the Year 2013-2014, Enthrose Campbell.

The project is supported by Digicel, which donated the computers, desks and chairs for the facility. The café is equipped with two desktop computers, two laptop computers, a multipurpose printer, and wall posters.

In commending Ms. Campbell for her foresight in establishing the facility, the Minister committed to “match what Digicel has done”, as well as provide Internet and WiFi services for two years, free of charge.

He informed that this however hinges on the upkeep of the property, pointing out that a site visit will be conducted in two months to ensure that the standards of the facilities are maintained.