The Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology has secured the assistance of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to develop a national broadband strategy, which will support the implementation of the islandwide broadband network.
In addition, a national broadband task force, under the chairmanship of Michael Lee Chin, has been formed to provide high-level guidance to the Ministry’s team and to ensure that the interaction with the IDB and other stakeholders remains targeted and strategic.
This was disclosed by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Daryl Vaz, during a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday (December 15).
He also announced that a core technical task force has been formed to provide the technical input and oversight required to drive implementation of the strategy and the corresponding broadband network, as well as to recommend any policy, legislative or regulatory changes that may be required to ensure sustainability.
This task force is chaired by the MSET and has membership from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Office of Utilities Regulation, Spectrum Management Authority, Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica, eGov Jamaica Limited; Universal Service Fund, and the National Works Agency.
“Over the past few weeks, meetings were held with the technical task force and representatives of other key ministries, departments and agencies, which has allowed us to map the existing broadband infrastructure; map other existing infrastructure, which could be leveraged for the deployment of the physical broadband network; and identify the public sites requiring broadband connectivity; and prioritisation of the sites, which require same,” Mr. Vaz said.
The task force was also able to identify the specifications for the infrastructure that will be required and the estimated cost for implementation, and the accompanying policies, laws and regulations.
“This multisectoral approach is to ensure that we achieve last mile connectivity to all public institutions. Given the socio-economic parameters of the country, last mile deployment must have a social focus that will see connectivity to main sites such as schools, health centres, community centres, postal points, local municipalities and police stations across the country,” Mr. Vaz said.
He noted that this expansion will see a significant increase in coverage of broadband, not just to these institutions but directly to the people of Jamaica.
“This deployment of broadband into the nooks and crannies of Jamaica – deep rural, inner cities, outer cities, urban centres, and rural towns, will be the single most impactful intervention to eliminate the digital divide that now exists in our country,” Mr. Vaz said.
The Government aims to have every household and every community connected to the Internet by 2025.
The clear 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 information and communications technology (ICT) exports; and increase competitiveness.