The connection of 196 public schools to the existing islandwide broadband network to enable access to high-speed Internet is expected to be completed in the new school term, which starts in September.
This is to be carried out under the first phase of the overall US$237-million National Broadband Initiative, which aims to have every household and every community connected to the Internet by 2025.
Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Daryl Vaz, made the disclosure during his contribution to the 2021/22 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 18).
He informed that this initial phase of the initiative seeks to address the immediate and short-term needs to coordinate a coronavirus (COVID-19) information and communications technology (ICT)-related response to the public sector.
“We are moving… to execute this 100-Day (ICT) Plan which will involve providing connectivity between eight municipal authorities in Portland, St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, St Elizabeth, Westmoreland and St. James. [In addition] existing GovNet fibre-optic cables will be extended from the Kingston Metropolitan Area to all parishes using [each] Municipal Corporation as an aggregation point,” he said.
Describing this plan as the “National Communication Backbone”, Mr. Vaz noted that this aspect will require simultaneous installation of microwave and fibre-optic communication systems to ensure network redundancy and reliability.
“The completion of the National Communication Backbone will allow for the connection of 461 public entities, including 196 schools, 160 ministries, departments and agencies, 62 major health facilities, 41 major police stations and 11 Spectrum Management Authority sites,” he said.
Mr. Vaz pointed out that islandwide coverage provided by the National Communication Backbone will enable the use across all parishes of applications such as the Traffic Management system, allowing connectivity for Police Stations, Courts and Tax Administration Jamaica; the Amanda application; Central Treasury management systems; Human Resource (HR) Management systems; Shared applications/services; and JamaicaEye.
The objectives of the National Broadband Initiative are to achieve universal access; boost adoption and usage; improve quality and coverage of key services, such as health and education and, more broadly, public services; guarantee affordability; promote entrepreneurship and local content creation; create new business models; boost ICT exports and increase competitiveness.