Government has received a donation of 650 kilometres of fibre-optic cable from local cable television providers and the island’s two major toll road operators, to help improve the nation’s broadband connectivity.
The cable television operators include the island’s two largest cable providers and 34 smaller rural cable providers.
“The fibre-optic cables will form part of the National Fibre Optic Communication Backbone to enable high-speed data services among public government facilities. We’ve been fortunate to have a good response from the private sector, specifically private owners of fibre-optic cables,” Operations Manager, Traffic Management Unit at the National Works Agency, Michael Saunderson, said.
He was speaking at a press conference on national broadband connectivity, hosted by the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, on December 15 at its Kingston office.
Mr. Saunderson noted that work and testing have started using the cables.
“We’ve started to splice the cables together and we’ve tested from Kingston to Santa Cruz at a bandwidth of 10 gigabits, so we know that the system works,” he pointed out.
He explained that the National Fibre Optic Communication Backbone is part of the government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and will be used to connect crucial government institutions, including hospitals, schools, ports, airports and health centres.
“[Setting up] the cables between Morant Bay and Montego Bay is expected to be completed by early January 2021. Once completed, we will start to put data on those links enabling the parish councils from Morant Bay and Montego Bay to communicate with Central Government,” Mr. Saunderson said.
He noted that the National Fibre Optic Communication Backbone will also support the rolling out of public hotspots in rural areas.
“Currently, we have 13 hotspots in urban areas. With the National Fibre Optic Communication Backbone we can enter deep-rural communities and enable a lot more Jamaicans to have access to the Internet,” he pointed out.
Through this project, the Government will seek to increase the number of public Wi-Fi hotspots from 13 to 30 over six months.