The Universal Service Fund (USF) is reporting collections of more than $9.7 billion as at February 5, 2013.
The funds, generated from incoming telephone calls, will be utilised to accelerate the deployment of broadband services islandwide, in keeping with Government’s efforts to enable more Jamaicans to access Information and Communication Technology (ICT). This includes the creation of an ICT platform in secondary schools, libraries, post offices, and at community access points (CAPs).
Addressing a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on Wednesday, March 6, Chief Executive Officer of the USF, Hugh Cross, said some 34 libraries, 112 schools, and 57 post offices have already been connected.
He added that 118 CAPs have now been established in various communities across the island, and an additional 40 sites are being worked on and will come on stream shortly.
Mr. Cross disclosed that applications for an additional 138 CAP sites are being evaluated, while plans are in train for the establishment of model cyber centres in Kingston, Mandeville and Montego Bay. These facilities, he said, will be large with adequate seating and “will be enough of an attraction that residents would want to go there and utilise the services offered”.
Among other projects being undertaken is the digitisation of works at the National Library of Jamaica located at East Street downtown Kingston.
“We just approved funding for them to digitise their entire content. They have vital content on paper and we would like to move that to where it is digitised and web-enabled and accessible from anywhere in the world, because, as you know, paper will deteriorate over time,” Mr. Cross stated.
He told JIS News that funding has been approved for two projects to provide connectivity for the Ministry of Health and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
“There are 334 hospitals, health centres, and regional offices, and we want to connect them to the broadband network, so their efficiencies can be improved. We have just approved a project to connect their most critical sites and we will do the same for the Jamaica Constabulary Force,” he stated.
The USF, formerly the Universal Access Fund, is financed through a levy of US$0.03 per minute on inbound international calls terminated to fixed lines and US$0.02 per minute on calls terminated on mobile lines in Jamaica.