Residents of Annotto Bay and surrounding areas in St. Mary now have free, secure Internet access following the launch of a public Wi-Fi hotspot in the town on Friday (November 27).
This new hotspot is the 10th to be installed across the island by the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, through the Universal Service Fund (USF).
The other locations are Emancipation Park, Mandela Park, St. William Grant Park, Olympic Way and Devon House in Kingston and St. Andrew; Cecil Charlton Park in Mandeville; May Pen, Clarendon; Junction, St. Elizabeth and Montego Bay, St. James.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Daryl Vaz, in his address at the launching ceremony held at Port Arthur Lane, said the hotspots come at a cost of $20 million each, with $5 million for set-up and installation and $15 million for service cost for three years.
“These facilities are costly, but it is a cost that the Government of Jamaica is willing to bear to ensure that all our people are connected to the Internet,” Mr. Vaz said.
He noted that the objective is to bridge the digital divide in Jamaica and help citizens, especially in rural communities, to tap more into their potential.
“American businessman, Steve Ballmer, opined that the number-one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative, productive and learn things that they did not think they could learn before. It is all about potential,” he said.
He added that: “It is this potential, this quest to empower people to do more and achieve more that is taking us across the length and breadth of Jamaica to bridge the Internet gap and provide Internet access for all.”
For his part, the Mayor of Port Maria, His Worship, Councillor Richard Creary, said he is elated about the new Wi-Fi hotspot for the parish, as it has come at a time when citizens need to access the Internet to do schoolwork and complete other tasks online due to the pandemic.
“I’m sure the persons in Annotto Bay are pleased to have this free public Wi-Fi within the town… . We are indeed pleased and I would like, on behalf of the persons, not only in Annotto Bay but in St. Mary, to publicly thank the team for having provided this service,” the Mayor added.