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Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Daryl Vaz, says that bridging the broadband penetration gap, through the setting up of a National Broadband Network, is expected to generate more than 95,000 direct jobs.

He made the disclosure during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday (December 15).

He noted that the estimated cost to implement the broadband network is estimated at US$237 million and funding options are being explored for the undertaking.

Minister Vaz said that Jamaica can ill-afford to delay or abandon this strategy, which, he noted, will bring the country in line with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) states.

He noted that an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) econometric model specific to Latin America and the Caribbean demonstrates that, on average, countries that increased broadband penetration by 10 per cent have associated increases of 3.2 per cent per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and 2.6 per cent increase in productivity.

The Minister said the success of the national broadband initiative will require public-private partnerships; improvement in various types of infrastructure such as telecommunication and electricity; and greater coordination in the deployment of public utility services.

He noted that utility infrastructure are located within the public rights of way, namely sidewalks and roadways and there is currently no policy or legislative framework governing the use of these rights of way.

As such, he informed that his Ministry and the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation will be working together to fast-track the policy and legislative frameworks for the management and use of public rights of way.

“In addition, there is the requirement for the strengthening of the broader policy framework to support the national broadband initiative. In this regard, we are far advanced in drafting a Spectrum Pricing Policy to support greater access to the spectrum at prices that will promote innovation and use of this scarce resource,” Mr. Vaz said.

He added that work is also progressing on the development of Infrastructure Sharing Rules led by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) with support from the Ministry, to regulate and manage greater access to existing and future telecommunications infrastructure.

Progress is also being made in developing Quality of Service Standard Rules to prescribe the minimum targets to be achieved and sustained by telecommunications providers in respect of various technical and customer service quality parameters.

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