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Custos of Manchester, Hon. Garfield Green, is encouraging communities to make the best use of the free secured Wi-Fi hotspots being installed by the Universal Service Fund (USF).

Speaking recently at the launch of a facility in Mile Gully, Manchester, the Custos said since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many students and persons in business have had to rely more on Internet services, and even though it is being given to communities free of cost, it must be valued and protected by the beneficiaries.

“While the service is free to you, the users, parents, students, and community members, I ask of you, protect this invaluable investment. It is an investment in you and your community. The Internet service is now being given to you, I encourage you to own it and waste no time in putting it to use for the growth and development of your community,” the Custos said.

He pointed out that the $7.5-million infrastructure is an important addition for education, and to foster business transactions, adding that it must be accessed by “responsible users”.

“Community members now have a greater prospect of capacity building right here in Mile Gully,” he said.

For his part, Chief Executive Officer of the USF, Daniel Dawes, said the residents of the area need to ensure that the “expenditure not go to waste”, as it is expected that “the children will come into this beautiful space, and do their educational work”.

Member of Parliament for Manchester North West, Mikael Phillips, said he is working with the Mile Gully Community Club to establish a homework centre, as the community Internet service now allows “for students to come and get assistance to do their schoolwork”.

The USF, an agency of the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, will commission 10 new Community Access Points (CAPS) across the island, by the end of February 2022.

CAPS are Internet service facilities established in collaboration with community organisations and funded by the agency in furtherance of the Government’s Universal Service Obligation.

Computers, associated equipment, and Internet access are provided free of cost at the facilities to allow Jamaican residents to access the Internet. Since 2007 the USF has outfitted more than 300 communities with Internet service. The agency has a mandate to ensure access to information and communications technology tools to facilitate development.

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